LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

In Whig Society 1775-1818
Frederick Foster to Lady Melbourne, [November 1802]

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
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“We have been very gay lately. Last night we went to a Ball at M[adam]e Recamier’s, it was a very pretty one & lasted till 5 in the morning. Vestris1 danced & most excessively well, & there

1 Famous French ballet dancer (1729-1808). He is reported to have said, “There are but three great men in Europe—the King of Prussia, Voltaire and I.”

was some very fine Dancing besides. The House is not very large but is extremely pretty, the furniture of her Bedroom & Boudoir beautiful. She has been as good natur’d as possible to
L[ad]y [E]Liz[abeth Foster] & has promised to invite Moreau to meet us at a small Party. By the bye a person asked Moreau if he ever visited Bonaparte. He replied never, & that ‘il a fait une impertinence à moi & à mon armée’—this is pretty strong I think, & as Mr. Hare told it to us, is I daresay true. We have met Jourdan there a good deal. He was, you may recollect, a Member of the Council of 500 & was intended for Deportation by the Directory, but luckily escaped. He is very Gentlemanlike & pleasing in his manners, & is reckoned a very clever & eloquent man, but by no means in favor at present with the Consul, indeed very few of the famous Leaders of the Revolution, good or bad, are. I met Tallien at a dinner the other day, he seems quite out of humour with Buonaparte & spoke his mind pretty freely about him. He has the appearance of a Gentleman Murderer, & talks of Guillotines & slaughter with the greatest coolness & composure—his manners are very civil & his Conversation & look give me the idea of a Philosophe-Bourreau. He was very communicative & told me that it was their Plan to have murdered the King on the 10th of August but that ‘Judas’ Roederer, as he call’d him, prevented it, by persuading the K[ing] to go to the assembly. I said—mais pour la Reine et la famille Royale, what was to have become of them? O tout ça aurait passé—& then, said he, the Republick would have arisen sage et tranquille, & we should not have
been embarassed by the Trials of the King & Queen &c. The King, he allowed, was the best man in his Kingdom, & that the
Q[ueen] had been cruelly traduced—but he complained of the coldness of her manner to him when he was on guard over them at the Tuilleries & Temple, but that the K[ing] & he agreed very well. He added that it was Cambaceres, now 2d. Consul, Herault de Sechelles, guillotined by Robespierre, & himself who prepared the papers for the King’s Trial. On the 9th Thermidor, when Robespierre was overthrown, he told me that he, Collot d’Herbois & Billaud de Varennes placed themselves, armed with daggers, behind Rob[ert] Couthon & St. Just, determined to have stabbed them, had not the Convention decreed their arrest. He said that Rob[ert Couthon] had great Influence over the Populace, & that they had an Idea of his great Incorruptibility. On the 13 Vendemiere when the Parisians attacked the Convention it was he that recommended Bonaparte to Barras & Freron, to command their Troops, & that B[onaparte] was then so poor that they were obliged to borrow him a Horse & an uniform—& that Bonap[arte] had been very near taking the part of the Parisians—(you recollect how completely he licked them)—but that when Menou wished to parley with the mob & prevent Bloodshed, Bonap[arte] refused, & having waited till they approachd pretty near, opend upon them a tremendous fire of Cannon, & which to use T[aillen’s] own word, completely Balaye’d them. He lamented very much the death of Hoche, said that Moreau had no civil Talents, & mentioned as a good Trait of Gen. Junot, that he was a bon Sabreur, tho’ no great officer. He said that
the Lawyers had done all the mischief in the Assemblys by their Metaphysicks & Law-jargon, & really praised the E[nglish] H[ouse] of Commons for not listening to
Erskine & his crew. His only favorites seem to be Barras & Freron—both pretty scoundrels. Danton he admird but thought that in the massacres of September he had perhaps ‘laisse le peuple trop agir.’ . . . I think I have given you a pretty good dose of Tallien & its not my fault if you don’t think & dream for this month to come, of Tallien, Barrere, Santerre, the Guillotine & Co. I must just tell you that Barrere considers himself as the Virtuous man, persecuted by the Wicked. He said to a Gentleman that he was afraid the Revol[ution] appeared to the World in the light of a Crime éclatante. This Virtuous Martyr, you know, was president of the Committee (of public Safety, I think it was) when in 5 weeks upwards of 1200 people were put to death by its (orders?) & he it was who proposed to ‘balayer’ (the prisons 7).1 I must have done with these (monsters), & say a word about their mighty master the modern Cæsar—whom one can hardly praise or abuse too much. I heard a curious anecdote of him. He told a Gentleman that the Aegyptiens regretted him very much & that their sorcerers predicted his return. We expect to be presented by Lord Whitworth next Monday, & on Thursday I believe to Madame Bonaparte—her son Beauharnais was at M[adam]e Rec[amie]r last night & at the D[uche]ss [of] Gordon’s ball a few nights ago—he seems gentlemanlike & unassuming. By the bye the D[uche]ss Gordon in her happy manner & choice French

1 MS. damaged.

took the opportunity of observing to Mr. Seger whilst Beauh[arnais] was standing close bye him, that Bonap: only waited to equip his fleets to declare War against England.”