LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Creevey Papers
Thomas Creevey to James Currie, 8 November 1802

Vol. I. Contents
Ch. I: 1793-1804
Ch. II: 1805
Ch. III: 1805
Ch. IV: 1806-08
Ch. V: 1809
Ch. VI: 1810
Ch. VII: 1811
Ch. VIII: 1812
Ch. IX: 1813-14
Ch X: 1814-15
Ch XI: 1815-16
Ch XII: 1817-18
Ch XIII: 1819-20
Vol. II. Contents
Ch I: 1821
Ch. II: 1822
Ch. III: 1823-24
Ch. IV: 1825-26
Ch. V: 1827
Ch. VI: 1827-28
Ch. VII: 1828
Ch. VIII: 1829
Ch. IX: 1830-31
Ch. X: 1832-33
Ch. XI: 1833
Ch. XII: 1834
Ch XIII: 1835-36
Ch XIV: 1837-38
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“Great Cumberland Place, 8th Nov., 1802.

“. . The Grenvilles are in great spirits; the Morning Post, and Morning Chronicle too, are strongly suspected of being in their pay, and to-day it is said Tom Grenville is to be started as Speaker against Abbott. Great are the speculations about Pitt: it is asserted that he is fonder of his relations [the Grenvilles] than the Doctor,* but I hear of no authority for this opinion. I, for one, if they try their strength in the choice of a Speaker, tho’ I detest Abbott, will vote for him or anybody else supported by Addington, in opposition to a Grenville or a Pittite. I am affraid of this damned Addington being bullied out of his pacific disposition. He will be most cursedly run at, and he has neither talents to command open coadjutors, nor sufficient skill in intriguing to acquire private ones. Still I think we cannot surely be pushed again into the field of battle.

“Now for France—all the world has been there, and various is the information imported from thence.

* The Right Hon. Henry Addington, created Viscount Sidmouth in 1805. He was nicknamed “the Doctor” because his father was a physician.

Whishaw was my first historian, and I think the worst. He was at Paris only a fortnight, but he travelled through France. I apprehend, either from a scanty supply of the language or of proper introductions, he has been merely a stage coach traveller. He has seen soldiers in every part of his tour, and superintending every department of the Government . . . and has returned quite scared out of his wits at the dreadful power and villainy of the French Government. . . . Romilly* is my next relator, and much more amusing. His private friends were the Liancourts, de la Rochefoucaults, &c., and he dined at different times with Talleyrand, Berthier, and all the other Ministers at their houses. Ministers, however, and statesmen are alike in all countries; they alone are precluded from telling you anything about the country in whose service they are, and emigrants are too insecure to indulge any freedom in conversation. Romilly’s account, therefore, as one might suppose, makes his society of Paris the most gloomy possible. He says at Talleyrand’s table, where you have such magnificence as was never seen before in France, the Master of the House, who as an exile in England without a guinea was the pleasantest of Men, in France and in the midst of his prosperity sits the most melancholy picture apparently of sorrow and despair. Romilly sat next to Fox at Talleyrand’s dinner, and had all his conversation to himself; but not a word of public affairs—all vertu and French belles lettres. Romilly would not grace the court of Buonaparte, but left Paris with as much detestation of him and his Government as Whishaw, and with much more reason.

“But the great lion of all upon the subject of Paris is Mackintosh.† He has really seen most entertaining things and people. He, too, dined with Ministers, and has held a long consultation with the Consul

* Samuel Romilly, K.C., entered Parliament in 1806, appointed Solicitor-General, and was knighted. An ardent Reformer, and father of the first Lord Romilly, he committed suicide in 1818.

Sir James Mackintosh [1765-1832], barrister, philosopher, and politician.


upon the Norman and English laws; but his means of living with the active people of France has far exceeded that of any other English. I think his most valuable acquaintance must have been
Madame de Souza. She is a Frenchwoman, was a widow, and is now the wife of the Portuguese ambassador. She is the friend and companion and confidante of Madame Buonaparte, and satisfied all Mackintosh’s enquiries respecting her friend and her husband the Consul. Her history to Mackintosh (confirmed by Madame Cabarenne, late Madame Tallien) of Madame Buonaparte and her husband is this.—Madame Buonaparte is a woman nearly fifty, of singular good temper, and without a little of intrigue. She is a Creole, and has large West India possessions. On these last accounts it was that she was married by the Viscount Beauharnois—a lively nobleman about the old Court; and both in his life and since his death his wife remained a great favorite in Paris.

“Immediately previous to the directorial power being established in 1795, the Sections all rose upon the Convention or Assembly, whatever it was, in consequence of an odious vote or decree they had made. At this period, no general would incur the risque of an unsuccessful attack upon the Sections; Buonaparte alone, who was known only from having served at the siege of Toulon, being then in Paris, said if any General would lend him a coat, he would fight the Sections. He put his coat on; he peppered the Sections with grape shot; the establishment of the Directory was the consequence to them, and to him in return they gave the command of the army of Italy.* He became, therefore, the fashion, and was asked to meet good company, and he was asked to Tallien’s to put him next the widow Beauharnois, that he might vex Hoche, who was then after her and her fortune. Madame Tallien did so, and the new lovers were

* Napoleon’s own report upon the suppression of the Sections places the responsibility of the act upon Barras, who employed him merely as a good artillery officer. Before being appointed to the command of the army in Italy, in 1796, Bonaparte was rewarded, in 1795, for his action against the Sections by succeeding Barras in command of the army of the Interior.

married in ten days. She never was
Barras’ mistress; Madame Cabarenne (Tallien that was) told Mackintosh that was calumny, for that she herself was his mistress at that very time.* Madame de Souza says no one but Madame Buonaparte could live with the Consul; he is subject to fits of passion, bordering upon derangement, and upon the appearance of one of these distempered freaks of his, he is left by all about him to his fate and to the effects of time. It is a service of great danger, even in his milder moments, to propose anything to him, and it is from his wife’s forbearance in both ways that she can possibly contrive to have the respect she meets with from him.

“Every wreck of the different parties in France for the last ten years that is now to be found in Paris, Mackintosh met and lived familiarly with—La Fayette, [illegible], Jean Bon Saint-Andre, Barthelemy, Camille Jourdan, Abbé Morelaix, Fouche, Boissy Danglas, &c., &c. Tallien† no one visits of his countrymen; his conversations with Mackintosh, if one had not his authority, surpass belief. His only lamentation over the revolution was its want of success, and that it should be on account of only half measures having been adopted. He almost shed tears at the mention of Danton, whom he styled bon enfant, and as a man of great promise.

Mackintosh dined at Barthelemy’s the banker—the brother of the ex-director—with a pleasant party. The ex-director was there, and next to him sat Fouché—now a senator—but who formerly, as Minister of Police, actually deported the ex-director to Cayenne. There was likewise a person there who told M. he had seen Fouché ride full gallop to preside at some celebrated massacre, with a pair of human ears stuck one on each side of his hat.‡ The conversation of

* The beautiful Madame de Tallien, previously Comtesse de Fontenay, was as fickle as she was frail, for she was also the mistress of the rich banker Ouvrard. Tallien obtained a divorce in 1802, and she married the Prince de Chimay.

Jean Lambert Tallien, one of the chief organisers and bloodiest agents of the Terror, leader in the overthrow of Robespierre.

Joseph Fouché, afterwards Duc d’Otranto, had as yet but accomplished half his cycle of cynical tergiversation, which brought him to

this notable assembly was as charming as the performers themselves; it turned principally upon the blessings of peace and humanity,

“All the others whom I have mentioned above have no connection with Fouché or Tallien, and are reasonable men, perfectly unrestrained in their conversation, quite anti-Buonapartian, and as much devoted to England. To such men Fox has given great surprise by his conversation, as he has given offence to his friends here. He talks publicly of Liberty being asleep in France, but dead in England. He will be attacked in the House of Commons certainly, and I think will find it difficult to justify himself. He has been damned imprudent.”