The Comte de St. Germain, by Isabel Cooper-Oakley, , at sacred-texts.com
THE following extracts are translated from the very rare and valuable Souvenirs de Marie-Antoinette, by the Countess d’Adhémar, who had been an intimate friend of the Queen, and who died in 1822.
I have not been able to find a single copy of this rare work 1 in any library in England, or on the Continent, to which I have so far had access. But fortunately a copy exists at Odessa in the library of Madame Fadéef, the aunt and friend of Madame H. P. Blavatsky, and this may lend it an additional interest in the opinion of some of our readers.
One of our members has been kindly permitted to make some extracts from the four volumes,
and thanks are due to Madame Fadéef for so graciously lending the work for this purpose. Madame d’Adhémar appears to have kept a daily diary, after the fashion of the period, and to have later written her Souvenirs from this diary, occasionally interjecting an explanatory remark. They cover a long period of time, ranging from 1760 to 1821.
One very interesting fact as to dates occurs in a note written by the hand of the Countess, fastened with a pin to the original MS. and dated May 12th, 1821. She died in 1822. It refers to a prophecy made to her by St. Germain about the year 1793, when he warned her of the approaching sad fate of the Queen, and in response to her query as to whether she would see him again, he replied, "Five times more; do not wish for the sixth."
The Countess writes: "I saw M. de St. Germain again, and always to my unspeakable surprise: at the assassination of the Queen; at the coming of the 18th Brumaire; the day following the death of the Duke d’Enghien ; in the month of January, 1813; and on the eve of the murder of the Duke de Berri . I await the sixth visit when God wills."
These dates are of interest because of the generally received opinion that St. Germain died in 1784; some few writers say he only retired from
public work. These varying opinions will be treated later.
Says Madame d’Adhémar 1:--
"Since my pen is again writing the name of the Comte de St. Germain, I will say something about him. He appeared (that is the word) at the Court of France long before me. It was in 1743; the rumour spread that a stranger, enormously rich to judge by the magnificence of his jewellery, had just arrived at Versailles. Whence did he come? That is what no one has ever been able to learn. His countenance, haughty, intellectual, acute, struck one at first sight. He had a pliant, graceful figure, delicate hands, a small foot, an elegant leg which set off a well-fitting silk stocking. The small-clothes, very tight, also suggested a rare perfection of form; his smile showed the most beautiful teeth in the world, a pretty dimple adorned his chin, his hair was black, his eyes were soft and penetrating. Oh! what eyes! I have nowhere seen their equal. He appeared about forty to forty-five years old. He was met again in the smaller apartments where he had free admission, at the beginning of 1768. He did not see Madame du Barry, but he was present at the catastrophe of Madame de Chateauroux.
"When this lady died, the King who had only
known the Count for a year, had nevertheless so much confidence in him that he asked him for an antidote for the dying Duchess. The Count refused, saying: 'It is too late.'" She continues: "At this same period a very singular adventure befell me. I was alone in Paris, M. d’Adhémar having gone to visit some relations of his own name that he had in Languedoc. It was one Sunday at eight o'clock in the morning. I am accustomed to hear Mass at noon, so that .I had but little time for my toilette and for preparing to go out. I rose hurriedly, then, and had scarcely thrown on my morning wrapper when Mdlle. Rostande, my head waiting-woman in whom also I placed entire confidence, came in to tell me that a gentleman wished to speak to me.
"To pay a visit to a woman at eight o'clock was against all accepted rules. 'Is it my procurator, my lawyer?' I asked. For one has always one of these gentlemen at one's heels, however little property one may possess. 'Is it my architect, my saddler, or one of my farmers?'
"To each question a negative answer.
"'But who is it, then, my dear?'
"I treated my maid with familiarity. She was born the same day as myself, in the same house, that of my father, with the difference that I came into the world in a handsome apartment
and she in the lodge of our house porter. Her father, a worthy Languedoc man, was a superannuated pensioner in our service.
"'I thought,' answered my maid, 'with all due respect to Madame la Comtesse, that the devil had long since made a mantle out of the skin of this personage.'
"I passed in review all those of my acquaintance who could have deserved any special treatment by Satan, and I found so many of them that I did not know on whom to fasten my conjectures.
"'Since Madame does not guess,' continued Mdlle. Rostande, 'I will take the liberty of telling her that it is the Comte de Saint-Germain!'
"'Comte de Saint-Germain!' I exclaimed, 'the man of miracles.'
"My surprise was great on finding that he was at Paris and in my house. It was eight years since he had left France, and no one knew in the least what had become of him. Heeding nothing but my curiosity, I ordered her to show him in.
"'Did he tell you to announce him to me under his own name?'
"'It is M. de Saint-Noël that he calls himself now. No matter, I should recognise him among a thousand.'
"She went out, and a moment after the Count appeared. He looked fresh and well, and almost grown younger. He paid me the same compliment, but it may be doubted whether it was as sincere as mine.
"'You have lost,' I said to him, 'a friend, a protector in the late King.'
"'I doubly regret this loss, both for myself and for France.'
"'The nation is not of your opinion; it looks to the new reign for its welfare.'
"'It is a mistake; this reign will be fatal to it.'
"'What are you saying?' I replied, lowering my voice and looking around me.
"'The truth. . . . A gigantic conspiracy is being formed, which as yet has no visible chief, but he will appear before long. The aim is nothing less than the overthrow of what exists, to reconstruct it on a new plan. There is ill-will towards the royal family, the clergy, the nobility, the magistracy. There is still time, however, to baffle the plot; later, this would be impossible.'
Where have you seen all this? Is it in dreaming, or awake?'
"Partly with the help of my two ears, and partly through revelations. The King of France, I repeat, has no time to lose.'
"'You must seek an audience of the Comte de
[paragraph continues] Maurepas, and let him know your fears, for he can do everything, being entirely in the confidence of the King.'
"'He can do everything I know, except save France; or rather, it is he who will hasten her ruin. This man will undo you, Madame.'
"'You are telling me enough about it to get yourself sent to the Bastille for the rest of your days.'
"'I do not speak thus except to friends of whom I am sure.'
"'Nevertheless, see M. de Maurepas; he has good intentions, though wanting in ability.'
"'He would reject the evidence; besides, he detests me. Do you not know the silly quatrain which caused his exile?
"'The rhyme is inaccurate, Count.'
"'Oh! the Marquise paid little attention to it; but she knew that M. de Maurepas was the author of it, and he pretended that I had taken away the original manuscript from him to send it to the haughty Sultana. His exile followed the publication of these wretched verses, and from that time he included me in his schemes of vengeance. He will never forgive me. Nevertheless, Madame
la Comtesse, this is what I propose to you. Speak of me to the Queen, of the services that I have rendered to the government in the missions that have been entrusted to me at the various courts of Europe. If her Majesty will listen to me, I will reveal to her what I know; then she will judge whether it will be well for me to enter into the King's presence; without the intervention, however, of M. de Maurepas--that is my sine quâ non.'
"I listened attentively to M. de Saint-Germain, and I understood all the dangers that would again fall on my head, if I interfered in such an affair. On the other hand, I knew the Count to be perfectly conversant with European politics, and I feared to lose the opportunity of serving the State and the King. The Comte de Saint-Germain, guessing my perplexity, said to me:--
"'Think over my proposal; I am in Paris incognito; do not speak of me to anyone; and if to-morrow you will come to meet me in the church of the Jacobins in the Rue Saint-Honoré, I will await your answer there at eleven o'clock precisely.'
"'I would rather see you in my own house.'
"'Willingly; to-morrow, then, Madame.'
"He departed. I pondered all day on this apparition, as it were, and on the menacing words of the Comte de Saint-Germain. What! we were
on the eve of social disorganisation; this reign, which was ushered in under such happy auspices, was brewing the tempest! After long meditation on this text, I determined to present M. de Saint-Germain to the Queen, if she consented to it. He was punctual to the appointment, and delighted at the resolution that I had made. I asked him if he was going to settle in Paris; he answered in the negative, his plans no longer permitting him to live in France.
"'A century will pass,' he said, 'before I shall re-appear there.'
"I burst out laughing, and he did the same. That very day I went to Versailles; I passed through the small apartments, and finding Madame de Misery there, I begged her to let the Queen know that I wished to see her as soon as she could receive me. The head chamber-woman returned with the command to conduct me in. I entered; the Queen was sitting in front of a charming porcelain writing-table, which the King had given her; she was writing, and turning her head she said to me with one of her gracious smiles:--
"'What do you want with me?'
"'A trifle, Madame; I merely aspire to save the monarchy.'
"Her Majesty looked at me with amazement.
"At this command I mentioned the Comte de Saint-Germain; I told all that I knew of him, of his intimacy with the late King, Madame de Pompadour, the Duke de Choiseul; I spoke of the real services that he had rendered to the State by his diplomatic ability; I added that since the death of the Marquise he had disappeared from Court, and that no one knew the place of his retirement. When I had sufficiently piqued the Queen's curiosity, I ended by repeating to her what the Count had said to me the previous day, and had confirmed that morning.
"The Queen appeared to reflect; then she replied.
"'It is strange; yesterday I received a letter from my mysterious correspondent; he warned me that an important communication would shortly be made to me, and that I must take it into serious consideration, on pain of the greatest misfortunes. The coincidence of these two things is remarkable, unless, however, they come from the same source; what do you think about it?'
"'I scarcely know what to say of it. Here has the Queen been receiving these mysterious communications for several years, and the Comte de Saint-Germain re-appeared only yesterday.'
"'Perhaps he acts in this way in order the better to conceal himself.'
"'That is possible; nevertheless, something tells me that one ought to put faith in his words.''
"'After all, one is not sorry to see him, were it only in passing. I authorise you, then, to bring him to-morrow to Versailles, disguised in your livery. He shall remain in your apartments, and as soon as it is possible for me to admit him, I will have you both summoned. I will not listen to him except in your presence; that, too, is my sine quâ non.'
"I bowed profoundly, and the Queen dismissed me with the usual signal. I own, however, that my confidence in the Comte de Saint-Germain was lessened by the coincidence of his coming to Paris with the warning received the day before by Marie-Antoinette. I fancied I saw in it a regular scheme of trickery, and I asked myself if I ought to speak to him about it; but, considering all, I resolved to be silent, certain that he was prepared beforehand to answer this question.
"M. de Saint-Germain was awaiting me outside. As soon as I perceived him, I stopped my carriage; he got into it with me, and we returned together to my house. He was present at my dinner, but according to his custom he did not eat; after this he proposed to go back to Versailles. He would sleep at the inn, he added, and rejoin me the next day. I consented to this, eager as I was to neglect nothing for the success of this business.
"We were in my dwelling, then, in quarters which at Versailles were called a suite of apartments, when one of the Queen's pages came to ask me on her Majesty's behalf for the second volume of the book that she had desired me to bring her from Paris. This was the signal agreed upon. I handed the page a volume of some new novel, I know not what, and as soon as he had gone, I followed, accompanied by my lackey.
"We entered through the cabinets; Madame de Misery conducted us into the private room where the Queen was awaiting us. She rose with affable dignity.
"'Monsieur le Comte,' she said to him, 'Versailles is a place which is familiar to you.'
"'Madame, for nearly twenty years I was on intimate terms with the late King; he deigned to listen to me with kindness; he made use of my poor abilities on several occasions, and I do not think that he regretted having given me his confidence.'
"'You have wished Madame d’Adhémar to bring you to me; I have great affection for her and I do not doubt that what you have to tell me deserves listening to.'
"'The Queen,' answered the Count in a solemn voice, 'will in her wisdom weigh what I am about to confide to her. The Encyclopædist party desire power; they will only obtain it by the
absolute downfall of the clergy, and to ensure this result they will overthrow the monarchy. This party, who seek a chief among the members of the royal family, have turned their eyes on the Duc de Chartres; this prince will become the tool of men who will sacrifice him when he has ceased to be useful to them; the crown of France will be offered him, and he will find the scaffold instead of the throne. But before this day of retribution, what cruelties! what crimes! Laws will no longer be the protection of the good and the terror of the wicked. It is these last who will seize power with their blood-stained hands; they will abolish the Catholic religion, the nobility, the magistracy.'
"'So that nothing but royalty will be left!' interrupted the Queen, impatiently.
"'Not even royalty! . . . but a greedy republic, whose sceptre will be the axe of the executioner.'
"At these words I could not contain myself, and taking upon me to interrupt the Count in the Queen's presence:
"'Monsieur!' I cried, 'do you think of what you are saying, and before whom you are speaking?'
"'In truth,' added Marie-Antoinette, a little agitated, 'these are things that my ears are not accustomed to hear.'
"'And it is in the gravity of the circumstances that I find this boldness,' coolly replied M. de Saint-Germain. 'I have not come with the intention of paying a homage to the Queen of which she must be weary, but indeed to point out to her the dangers which threaten her crown, if prompt measures are not taken to avert them.'
"'You are positive, Monsieur,' said Marie-Antoinette, petulantly.
"'I am deeply grieved to displease your Majesty, but I can only speak the truth.'
"'Monsieur,' replied the Queen, affecting a playful tone, 'the true, perhaps, may sometimes not be the probable.'
"'I admit, Madame, that this is a case in point; but your Majesty will permit me in my turn to remind you that Cassandra foretold the ruin of Troy, and that they refused to believe it. I am Cassandra, France is the kingdom of Priam. Some years yet will pass by in a deceitful calm; then from all parts of the kingdom will up men greedy for vengeance, for power, and for money; they will overthrow all in their way. The seditious populace and some great members of the State will lend them support; a spirit of delirium will take possession of the citizens; civil war will burst out with all its horrors; it will bring in its train murder, pillage, exile. Then it will be regretted that I was not
listened to; perhaps I shall be asked for again, but the time will be past . . . the storm will have swept all before it.'
"'I confess, Monsieur, that this discourse astonishes me more and more, and did I not know that the late King had an affection for you, and that you had served him faithfully. . You wish to speak to the King?'
"'But without the concurrence of M. de Maurepas?'
"'He is my enemy; besides, I rank him among those who will further the ruin of the kingdom, not from malice, but from incapacity.'
"'You are a severe judge of a man who has the approbation of the majority.'
"'He is more than prime minister, Madame, and by right of this he is sure to have flatterers.'
"'If you exclude him from your relations with the King, I fear that you will find it difficult to approach his Majesty, who cannot act without his chief adviser.'
"'I shall be at their Majesties' command as long as they wish to employ me; but as I am not their subject, all obedience on my part is a gratuitous act.'
"'Monsieur,' said the Queen, who at this period could not treat any matter seriously for long together, 'where were you born?'
"'At Jerusalem, Madame.'
"'And that was . . . when?'
"'The Queen will permit me to have a weakness common to many persons. I never like to tell my age; that brings misfortune.'
"'As for me, the Royal Almanac does not allow of any illusion about my own. Farewell, Monsieur; the pleasure of the King shall be communicated to you.'
"This was a dismissal; we retired, and in returning home with me M. de Saint-Germain said to me:--
"'I too am about to leave you, Madame, and for a long time, for I do not propose to remain more than four days in France.'
"'What is it that makes you decide to start so quickly?'
"'The Queen will repeat to the King what I have said to her, Louis XVI. will tell it again in his turn to M. de Maurepas, this Minister will draw up a warrant (lettre de cachet) against me, and the head of the police will have orders to put it into execution. I know how these things are done, and I have no desire to go to the Bastille.'
"'What would it matter to you? You would get out through the key-hole.'
"'I prefer not to need recourse to a miracle. Farewell, Madame.'
"'But if the King should summon you?'
"'I will return.'
"'How shall you know it?'
"'I have the means of doing so: do not trouble yourself on that point.'
"'Meanwhile, I shall be compromised!'
"'Not so; farewell.'
"He departed, as soon as he had taken off my livery. I remained greatly troubled. I had told the Queen that in order to be the better able to carry out her wishes, I would not leave the château. . . . Two hours after, Madame de Misery came to seek me on behalf of her Majesty. I augured no good from this eagerness. I found the King with Marie-Antoinette. She appeared to me embarrassed; Louis XVI., on the contrary, came up to me in a frank way, and took my hand, which he kissed with infinite grace, for he had charming manners when he pleased.
"'Madame d’Adhémar,' he said to me, 'what have you done with your wizard?'
"'The Comte de Saint-Germain, Sire? He has started for Paris.'
"'He has seriously alarmed the Queen. Had he previously spoken in the same way to you?"
"'Not with so many details.'
"'I bear no ill-will to you for it, nor does the Queen either, for your intentions are good; but I blame the stranger for daring to foretell reverses to us which all the four quarters of the globe
could not offer in the course of a century. Above all, he is wrong in concealing himself from the Comte de Maurepas, who would know how to lay aside his personal enmities if it were necessary to sacrifice them to the interests of the monarchy. I shall speak to him on the subject, and if he advises me to see Saint-Germain, I shall not refuse to do so. He is credited with intellect and ability; my grandfather liked his society; but before granting him a conference, I wished to reassure you as to the possible consequences of the fresh appearance of this mysterious personage. Whatever may happen, you will be held clear.'
"My eyes filled with tears at this striking proof of the kindness of their Majesties, for the Queen spoke to me as affectionately as did the King. I returned calmer, but vexed, nevertheless, at the turn that this affair had taken, and I inwardly congratulated myself that M. de Saint-Germain had foreseen all.
"Two hours later, I was still in my room, absorbed in my own thoughts, when there was a knock at the door of my modest dwelling. I heard an unusual commotion, and almost immediately the two folding doors opened, and Monseigneur le Comte de Maurepas was announced. I rose to receive him with rather more briskness than if it had been the King of France. He came forward with a smiling countenance.
"'Pardon me, Madame,' he said, 'for the unceremoniousness of my visit; but I have some enquiries to make of you, and politeness required that I should come to seek you.'
"The courtiers of this period showed an exquisite politeness to women, which was no longer to be found in its purity after the storm which overturned everything. I replied, as I was bound to do, to M. de Maurepas, and these preliminaries over:--
"'Well!' he resumed, 'our old friend the Comte de Saint-Germain has returned? . . . He is already at his old tricks, and has recommenced his jugglery.'
"I was about to exclaim; but stopping me with a gesture of entreaty:--
"'Believe me,' he added, 'I know the rogue better than you do, Madame. One thing only surprises me; the years have not spared me, and the Queen declares that the Comte de Saint-Germain presented the appearance of a man of forty. However that may be, we must know whence he has gained this information, so circumstantial, so alarming. . . . He did not give you his address, I will warrant?'
"'No, Monsieur le Comte.'
"'It will be discovered, our police hounds have a keen scent. . . . Further . . . the King thanks you for your zeal. Nothing grievous will befall
[paragraph continues] Saint-Germain, except the being shut up in the Bastille, where he will be well fed, well warmed, until he condescends to tell us where he has got at so many curious things.'
"At this moment our attention was diverted by the noise made by the opening of the door of my room. . . . It was the Comte de Saint-Germain who entered! A cry escaped me, while M. de Maurepas hurriedly rose, and I must say that his countenance changed a little. The thaumaturgist, approaching him, said:--
"'M. le Comte de Maurepas, the King summoned you to give him good advice, and you think only of maintaining your own authority. In opposing yourself to my seeing the Monarch, you are losing the monarchy, for I have but a limited time to give to France and, this time over, I shall not be seen here again until after three consecutive generations have gone down to the grave. I told the Queen all that I was permitted to tell her; my revelations to the King would have been more complete; it is unfortunate that you should have intervened between His Majesty and me. I shall have nothing to reproach myself with when horrible anarchy devastates all France. As to these calamities, you will not see them, but to have prepared them will be sufficient memorial of you. . . . Expect no homage from posterity, frivolous and incapable Minister! You will be
ranked among those who cause the ruin of empires.'
"M. de Saint-Germain, having spoken thus without taking breath, turned towards the door again, shut it, and disappeared" 1.
All efforts to find the Count failed!
53:1 Since this was written I have been able to get this work; and the present Comtésse d’Adhémar informed me that there are documents concerning the Comte de St. Germain in their family papers.
Madame H. P. Blavatsky was visiting the family and stayed at the Château d’Adhémar in 1884. This was one of the numerous aristocratic families which were ruined in the Revolution. The present Comtesse d’Adhémar is an American; the documents are in America.
55:1 ADHÉMAR, op. cit., vol. I, p. 294.
73:1 ADHÉMAR, Op. cit., ii., pp. 52-72.