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wrote a romance, and then she said, “Of tions of scenery and of events connected the two kinds of folly by which Madame de with the author's travels, and we find in it Genlis has attained celebrity, I have chosen a notice of a visit made with her father to the easiest. I have written a book; it re- the Grande Chartreuse at Grenoble, dismains to be seen if I have attained the same guised as a man, access to the monastery end."
being interdicted to women. She was at “Valérie” appeared at Paris in 1804, that time twenty years of age, and had been after a short séjour made by Madame de married five, and her account of the emoKrudener, subsequent to her separation from tions which she experienced not only portray her husband in 1792, in Riga, and Leipzig. the strange undisciplined and sceptical senThe work created a sensation. It portrayed timents on religion by which she was all her the heart as the active interpreter of the dark life tormented, but also contain a prophecy mysteries of conscience. Gustavus, the hero of the future to which such scepticism must of the book, is a kind of sentimental Werther, inevitably lead. who falls in love with the wife of the father who has adopted him, the young and beau- Two individuals were issuing on a cold and
a tiful Valérie, in whom we have the ardent gloomy night in the autumn of 1786, enveland romantic character of Madame de Kru- oped in their mantles, from the Grande Chartdener; the spoilt and undisciplined child reuse at Grenoble. The smallest of the two grown up to be the thoughtless and unprin- personages was distinguished by the grace cipled woman, only still tormented by those and elegance of her shape, no less than by the religious scruples which she could never en- inexpressible expresson of mild beauty that tirely divest herself of, and which she now expanded in every feature; and it was with the sought relief for by transporting them into liveliest marks of affection and solicitude that the domain of poetry. Gustavus is also a her companion helped her to descend the steps sketch from life, and the struggle of these of the portal. The latter was a man of a certwo that meet only to suffer, are tain age, but robust and well built, with a padepicted with a skill peculiar to woman. trician air, calm and strong. Both took their “Valérie,” in reality, belongs neither to the way to a carriage that was awaiting them, and school of Goethe in his “ Werther,” nor to which took them to an inn at some distance that of Rousseau in his “ Nouvelle Héloïse,” in the town. No sooner arrived, than the but to what another woman, Madame de youngest, overcome with fatigue, let herself Staël, also succeeded in depicting in her fall on a sofa, at the same time unloosing her usual masterly manner in “Corinne” and hair, which escaped in brown and silken “Delphine.” “Valérie "introduced the fash- tresses. As to the oldest of the two travion of promenading the hero and heroine ellers, he remained for a moment upright about the world—a fashion to which the before his companion, contemplating her epistolary style lent itself with peculiar facili- with quiet pleasure, till, taking her hand, ties, and the shoal upon which most imitat- he said, in a voice in which reproach was ors have wrecked themselves that of fas- mingled with admiration, "Well, Julia ! are tidious developments and digressions—has you happy in having done what no woman been as skilfully avoided by Madame de Kru- dared attempt before you? What did you denèr as by Madame de Staël. The letters see? What did you feel ? Speak! Must of Gustavus are replete with tenderness and we congratulate ourselves upon our advensubdued passion, those of Valérie are less ture? Alas, I fear not, and that our friends real; they are at times cold and affected, as in Paris will laugh at us, seeing us return if the author feared to reveal the secrets of disappointed. For you know, my dear, they her own heart. It has been said that the all endeavored to dissuade us from this exphilosopher Saint-Martin had a hand in this pedition.” work; but although she had relations with Instead of replying, the graceful figure that strange personage, it does not appear rose up, and, throwing herself into the arms that he ever nad any influence with her, still of him who had spoken, exclaimed, with proless any participation in her literary labors. found emotion, “In the name of Heaven,
“ Valérie" especially abounds in descrip- father, do not say a word of this expedition
in Paris! Give me your promise to hold the good things that he dispenses to you your tongue to all the idle questionings to emanate from his kindness or his irony ?,” which we shall be subjected.”
“For Heaven's sake, Julia, be calm ; your “And why so, my dear child ? "
excitement leads you astray, and you do not “ Do not ask me. Give me your word !” see that you are talking blasphemy! Come “How excited you are!”
to yourself, my daughter to that calm rea“ Truly so. I no longer breathe -I no son which constitutes the charm of your longer live! It seems to me as if the gloom mind, and which is only troubled by a mowe have left behind us will forever darken ment's excitement." my existence. Frightful voices murmur in “You think, perhaps," continued the my soul, which
troubled, wandering, hu- young girl, more sedately, “that it is the miliated, and would like to hide itself in the sight of this monastery that we have just deepest abyss, not to see and not to hear. visited that has suggested these ideas. Well, O father, father! what is our life? What then, learn that it was not the case; that my frightful precipices, what gulfs open them- heart has been troubled and
my selves under our feet, whilst we move on fused for a long time now-a very long in joy and indifference! What a horrible time, alas!” enigma is that of an existence for which we This will quite suffice to show how closely shall probably pay for every minute by in- the subject of the romance attaches itself to expressible and unending punishments ! the intimate existence of the author, and Who is He who will inflict these punish- we find the same incident alluded to, in a ments ? I will dispense with the good things more agreeable manner, in a letter of Gusthat his gracious hand bestows, if he will tavus : "I have just been reading the life only also take back the arbitrary and tyran- of a saint, which I found in one of the drawnical bonds by which he overwhelms me! ers of my room. This saint had been a man, Nothing, nothing! I want nothing of Him and he had remained a man: he had sufwho deems it wise to veil himself eternally fered, he had cast away the lesires of this from my contemplation, and to harass me world far away from him, after having courwith his secrets."
ageously struggled with them; he had banThe father drew the child to his bosom, ished all the images of his youth from his while she, more and more terrified, pressed thoughts, and raised up repentance between herself on his breast with convulsive sobs. them and his years of solitude. He worked
“ You are my father—you! I know you. daily in preparing his grave, thinking with I have seen you suffer for my griefs, sympa- gladness that he would leave his dust to the thize with my tears. I read the expression earth, and he tremblingly hoped that his of that love which sustains and raises my soul would go to heaven. He dwelt in the being upon your face, whose every feature Chartreuse ; in 1715 he died, or rather he paints to me the history of my weak heart. disappeared, his death was so soft. Men You do not hide yourself; you do not make live there who are said to be fanatic, but of your solicitude for me a dark and gloomy who every day do good to other men. What mystery, in which you oblige me to believe a sublime and touching idea is that of three even when my reason refuses to understand. hundred Chartreux living the most holy life, No, father, your look bears testimony to filling these vast cloisters, only raising their your love ; a loyal, open, irresistible testi- melancholy looks to bless those whom they mony. I have no need to appeal to a third meet, exhibiting in every movement the most party to interpret your physiognomy; it is profound calm, telling with their features, thus that a father should be with his chil- with their voices—which are never moved by dren. So, also, do I love you ; and I am excitement—that they only live for that great faithful to you ; faithful to that noble heart God who is forgotten in the world but is upon which mine reposes, and beyond which adored in the desert." I know nothing. For of eternity, neither “Qui dit pöete, dit toujours un peu prophyou nor I wish for it. Is it not true that ète,” is a proverb with the French, although you reject a present the granter of which of far greater antiquity, for prophet and poet persistently refuses to show himself to you, were almost synonymous in the times of the and does not even permit you to know if Hebrews; but it is impossible not to see
'Madame de Krudener, as she was in the dressed in Greek attire, with naked arms nineteenth century, in these thoughts and and bust, was no longer to be seen save in a fancies. The woman of fashion belonged to high dress, and her hair combed back and the eighteenth century; courted and flat- deprived of all ornaments. She had then tered, vain and affected, frivolous and incon- attained her fortieth year. Her husband, sequent, beautiful and susceptible, a thousand from whom she had long been separated, had triumphs awaited her-triumphs of grace,tri- died at Berlin, in 1804. For some time she umphs of talent, and triumphs of gallantry: to wore a small crucifix of gold over her dress, the nineteenth century belonged the pious but even that disappeared. She took off all lady, the charitable mother of the poor and her rings, reminiscences of former frivolithe afflicted, the pale, thin ascetic who seeks ties, but that did not prevent people admirfor mercy at the foot of the Cross, pilgrim, ing her hands, which were the prettiest in martyr, the lady with the gray dress and plain the world. Her step, previously quick and white cap covering her closely cropped hair, hurried, became now slow and measured. In once so much admired!
company she remained standing, talking at At the period when Madame de Krudener the corner of a chimney, and out of doors was a women of the world, the Encyclopæ- she dispensed alike with equipages and la dists had reached the last hours of their or- queys, going about like a Sister of Charity, gies, the hours when the tables were turned, and she was admitted everywhere without and the lights were put out, and two enor- ceremony. mous and bloody hands—the hands of the The first time that Madame de Krudener Revolution-were feeling about at hap-haz- obtained a sense of her power over the mulard among the powdered heads that crowded titude is said to have been at Venice. A the salons of the Baron of Holbach. So- beggar-woman had been arrested, and the ciety, mined to its very base, threatened at mob interceded for her. Madame de Kruevery moment to topple over. Paris at such dener, passing in her gondola, also interan epoch was filled with adventurers, vision- fered, and she addressed the parties with aries, and necromancers. Mesmer reigned such effect as to bring about the desired obwith magnetic wand and galvanic chains and ject, whereupon the mob carried her in tricircuits, while Saint Germain and Caglios- umph, shouting,
“See the beautiful young tro resuscitated the dead, who, on their part, lady, who has pity on the sufferings of the terrified the world by the most astounding poor, and will not allow them to be malprophecies.
treated.” This event produced a great imIt was about 1804 that Madame de Kru- pression upon her. From that day she culdener first met Madame de Staël in her ex- tivated the favor of the people; the gondoliers ile at Coppet. Both of these women at disputed the honor of conveying her to that epoch at the very pinnacle of their church, and within the portals of the sacred worldly and literary fame-were about to edifice people recommended themselves to follow their own line, and to take the part her prayers. The progress of events also that was destined for them in the great events materially influenced her resolves. After that were taking place. The one became a the battle of Jena, she wrote: “ Great despolitical, the other a religious, martyr. tinies are being accomplished : keep your Equally made to exercise a powerful influ- eyes open. He who tries the hearts of the ence upon their contemporaries, there have humble as well as of the strong, is about to not been wanting those who have made van- manifest himself to kings as well as to peoity the basis of their actions. There may be ple." some truth in this, but it is very far from As the prosperity of Napoleon increased, being the whole truth.
Madame de Krudener withdrew to Geneva, The first public signs of conversion on the where she made the acquaintance of Empeypart of Madame de Krudener manifested tas, a minister of the Reformed Church, themselves in 1806, during her residence at who, like herself, was imbued with the spirit Kænigsberg, where she had gone to visit of mystic ardor as well as of piety. She had Queen Louisa of Prussia. The fair and frail at this epoch two children, one of whom, a form that only a few years previously had boy, she sent into Livonia, the other, a girl, been the idol of Madame Récamier's salons, she kept near herself.
The days of her predications and missions brow, than to have lived to dishonor her had now arrived. At Heidelberg she visited gray hairs with all the vanities of illuminism the prison for criminals, and dwelt for some and witchcraft. weeks among thieves and assassins. War Madame de Krudener first made acquainthad massed these personages in a few strong ance with the thaumaturgist Jung Stilling at places, and they had, in consequence, be- Carlsruhe, in 1814, and her excitable temcome so dangerous that their gaolers were perament allowed itself at once to be won frightened to venture among them. Yet a over by all sorts of strange systems and fanfrail woman was not terrified it is true that tastic theories. Jung Stilling was the son of her very fragility was a kind of protection a peasant, and had himself been brought up to her. But she had to bear with their rail- as a tailor. 'Goethe was the first to detect a lery against herself and against the Creator precocious intelligence in this youth of humof all things. There was, in her own words, ble origin, and it was to his having noticed a perfect luxury of vice and perdition among him that he was indebted for the sympathy them. Strange to say, she met in this gaol of the world. But these manifestations of a man with whom she had danced in Paris. interest awakened new ambitions: the tailor“Good lady," he said, “ do not try to con- ing was given up for doctoring, and Jung vert me. A society that humbles and pros- Stilling became a physician without the troutrates itself before him who steals a crown ble of studying the science or passing an exattests that there is only one thing in this amination in order to obtain a degree. He world below, and that is success. To suc- improvised the latter as a more easy process. ceed is virtue, to fail is crime.” Another His business consisted in effecting cures by took her book out of her hand, and struck mystical means and by supernatural incantaher on the head with it. “Get away, old tions, of which he alone possessed the secret. fool,” he said ; if you were young and pretty, Such is the natural love for quackery and you would not be thinking of God, but of humbug, that crowds hastened to the emhis creature, and now all the nonsense that piric. He more particularly addicted himyou talk is for the consolation of your old self to the cure of the eyes, and here he perage and of your worn-out carcase.”
formed miracles. All those upon whom he These sentimental promenades of Madame operated were to recover their sight, and if de Krudener among gaols and fortresses, they did not do so it was because they were her preachings and predictions among the destined to remain blind! What is still poor and the subversive, and the fame of her more strange is, that this man who practised proceedings, that spread far and wide in medicine without a diploma, this dreamer, town and country, did not fail to attract the quack, and cheat, who had always lived withattention of the authorities. The tumult of out the bounds of reality, was appointed war saved her for a time. She attempted, professor of political economy! Needless to on the retreat from Moscow, to reach Berlin, say that he was most profoundly ignorant of but was obliged to return into Switzerland, the merest elements of the science that he the eternal home of the free and of the per- was appointed to teach ; but Europe was at secuted, and sometimes of the ungrateful. that epoch so upset by the horrors of war, When news arrived of the battle of Leipzig, that a small German university did not look “ Thank Heaven, thank Heaven, princes and too close to its appointments. people,” she exclaimed, “ for having saved Jung Stilling not only managed, however, you ; you have nothing else now to do, porro to get through his course of political econunum est necessarium, thank Heaven!” She omy with credit to himself, but he found spoke of Alexander as a young hero who time, while he was disseminating his absurd joined the energy of a Cæsar to the celestial theories of the development of wealth and candor of an apostle, as the elect of Heaven, the increase of human happiness, to indite a and her words had an effect that can scarcely whole host of frightful romances. Finding, be imagined in less impressionable and ex- howerer, that this failed to procure the needcitable times. This was, indeed, the mo- ful, he changed his tactics-he had already ment of Madame de Krudener's greatest tri- experienced how much could be done by preumphs, and better to have died at that time, tensions to the mystical and he assumed to with the halo of a prophetess round her pale have given himself up to a profound study of the occult sciences, the elements of which times she was in want of money, and then he at the same time developed in his “ The- when she could get a remittance she would ory of Spirits and Scenes of the Invisible divide it with the poor and the needy. Her World.”
tribulations and anxieties were truly excesSuch is the man whom, unfortunately, an sive. She was getting old, and at open war educated, refined, and latterly a pious per- with all the police of Europe ; the nomade son like Madame de Krudener allowed her- had to raise her tent as soon as it was pitched self to be influenced by. The apparitions of wherever she went. At length she found a supernatural world were the inexhaustible refuge at the house of her son-in-law, Baron theme of their conversation, and the too de Berckheim, who lived in the environs of credulous neophyte listened to all the ex- Riga. travagances of this arch-impostor as if they But it was not without a pang that she had been words of the Gospel : they prayed thus resigned herself to a retired life. She together, and they summoned spirits to ap- said that if the Creator thus humiliated her, pear before them. All the false prophets it was because he could no longer be gloriand cheats that at that epoch abounded in fied by her. It was thus that she wrote to Alsatia, in Franconia, in Switzerland, and in Empeytas, in 1820 : “God permits lassitude Bavaria, congregated around this madman, to creep over its elect, so that they may who pretended to be in immediate commu- know of how little import is their strength nication with the Deity. Madame de Kru- and renown to him. He has shown to me dener found herself irretrievably mixed up also within these few days that he has no vith these mock propagandists. This was longer any need of my poor services. My all that was wanting to deliver her over to head bends down upon my chest, my arms her enemies, who were not few in number, fall by my side, and my step, which formerly and who were jealous of her labors and suc- was as a spring towards an object to be atcess among the poor, the imprisoned, and the tained, is now slow and painful. O my afflicted, but who, so long as she had perse- friend ! when the terrible hour shall sound, vered, backed by a steady piety and a sound with what fright shall I answer the appeal ! faith, had found it impossible to annoy her. It is in vain that I attempt to compare my Now nothing was easier : she had given up good and bad days disseminated over the true religion for imposture ; she had asso- earth, in vain that I attempt to draw conciated herself with a parcel of notorious clusions : there is no fruit-alas ! no fruit ! cheats; she was denounced as being herself I began life as a frivolous and coquettish woa deceiver, as subversive, infidel, and impi-man, and after a brief but short martyrdom, ous. She who had been the friend of Alex- I finish as a woman without courage and ander and the beloved of the people, was complaining.” ridiculed and laughed at, and the last epoch M. de Sternberg relates having seen this of her life—the era of her disgrace-was remarkable woman in her retirement. “It fairly entered upon. Her travels were now was,” he relates," a fine summer's evening, prosecuted with a commissary of police in the when I was walking along the banks of the carriage and a gendarme at each door-sad river, that I saw an open carriage pass by, and painful perigrinations, yet still more or in which an old lady, in a dress of gray silk, less triumphal, for the people hurried wher- was seated by the side of a young man. ever she was, and pressed around the car- Without knowing that it was Madame de riage of the poor persecuted lady. Thus it Krudener, I experienced a singular impreswas that she was hurried from one frontier sion at the sight of this person. A moment to another. No German state would allow afterwards the carriage stopped, and the old her to remain upon its territory: nowhere lady got down, leaning upon the arm of her could she find an asylum. On the threshold cavalier. Although at a short distance, of every hostelry she was met by a police I soon understood why she had thus got officer, who at once bade her pass on; and down. There was a group of girls close by the miserable woman, worn out with fatigue on the banks of the river, busy washing and often ill, had no alternative but to get clothes, and Madame de Krudener, perceivup again into her carriage, and to pursue ing them, could not resist the temptation of the course of her anxious migrations. Some- getting down and preaching something to