List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V3, by Eugene Sue
Next Page > >

The Wandering Jew

by Eugene Sue



XXXVI.     A Female Jesuit
XXXVII.    The Plot
XXXVIII.   Adrienne's  Enemies
XXXIX.     The Skirmish
XL.        The Revolt
XLI.       Treachery
XLII.      The Snare
XLIII.     A False Friend
XLIV.      The Minister's Cabinet
XLV.       The Visit
XLVI.      Presentiments
XLVII.     The Letter
XLVIII.    The Confessional
XLIX.      My Lord and Spoil-sport
L.         Appearances
LI.        The Convent
LII.       The Influence of a Confessor
LIII.      The Examination



During the preceding scenes which occurred in the Pompadour rotunda,
occupied by Miss de Cardoville, other events took place in the residence
of the Princess Saint-Dizier.  The elegance and sumptuousness of the
former dwelling presented a strong contrast to the gloomy interior of the
latter, the first floor of which was inhabited by the princess, for the
plan of the ground floor rendered it only fit for giving parties; and,
for a long time past, Madame de Saint-Dizier had renounced all worldly
splendors.  The gravity of her domestics, all aged and dressed in black;
the profound silence which reigned in her abode, where everything was
spoken, if it could be called speaking, in an undertone; and the almost
monastic regularity and order of this immense mansion, communicated to
everything around the princess a sad and chilling character.  A man of
the world, who joined great courage to rare independence of spirit,
speaking of the princess (to whom Adrienne de Cardoville went, according
to her expression, to fight a pitched battle), said of her as follows:
"In order to avoid having Madame de Saint-Dizier for an enemy, I, who am
neither bashful nor cowardly, have, for the first time in my life, been
both a noodle and a coward."  This man spoke sincerely.  But Madame de
Saint-Dizier had not all at once arrived at this high degree of

Some words are necessary for the purpose of exhibiting distinctly some
phases in the life of this dangerous and implacable woman who, by her
affiliation with the Order of Jesuits, had acquired an occult and
formidable power.  For there is something even more menacing than a
Jesuit: it is a Jesuits; and, when one has seen certain circles, it
becomes evident that there exist, unhappily, many of those affiliated,
who, more or less, uniformly dress (for the lay members of the Order call
themselves "Jesuits of the short robe").

Madame de Saint-Dizier, once very beautiful, had been, during the last
years of the Empire, and the early years of the Restoration, one of the
most fashionable women of Paris, of a stirring, active, adventurous, and
commanding spirit, of cold heart, but lively imagination.  She was
greatly given to amorous adventures, not from tenderness of heart, but
from a passion for intrigue, which she loved as men love play--for the
sake of the emotions it excites.  Unhappily, such had always been the
blindness or the carelessness of her husband, the Prince of Saint-Dizier
(eldest brother of the Count of Rennepont and Duke of Cardoville, father
of Adrienne), that during his life he had never said one word that could
make it be thought that he suspected the actions of his wife.  Attaching
herself to Napoleon, to dig a mine under the feet of the Colossus, that
design at least afforded emotions sufficient to gratify the humor of the
most insatiable.  During some time, all went well.  The princess was
beautiful and spirited, dexterous and false, perfidious and seductive.
She was surrounded by fanatical adorers, upon whom she played off a kind
of ferocious coquetry, to induce them to run their heads into grave
conspiracies.  They hoped to resuscitate the Fonder party, and carried on
a very active secret correspondence with some influential personages
abroad, well known for their hatred against the emperor and France.
Hence arose her first epistolary relations with the Marquis d'Aigrigny,
then colonel in the Russian service and aide-de-camp to General Moreau.
But one day all these petty intrigues were discovered.  Many knights of
Madame de Saint-Dizier were sent to Vincennes; but the emperor, who might
have punished her terribly, contented himself with exiling the princess
to one of her estates near Dunkirk.

Upon the Restoration, the persecutions which Madame de Saint-Dizier had
suffered for the Good Cause were entered to her credit, and she acquired
even then very considerable influence, in spite of the lightness of her
behavior.  The Marquis d'Aigrigny, having entered the military service of
France, remained there.  He was handsome, and of fashionable manners and
address.  He had corresponded and conspired with the princess, without
knowing her; and these circumstances necessarily led to a close
connection between them.

Excessive self-love, a taste for exciting pleasures, aspirations of
hatred, pride, and lordliness, a species of evil sympathy, the perfidious
attraction of which brings together perverse natures without mingling
them, had made of the princess and the Marquis accomplices rather than
lovers.  This connection, based upon selfish and bitter feelings, and
upon the support which two characters of this dangerous temper could lend
to each other against a world in which their spirit of intrigue, of
gallantry, and of contempt had made them many enemies, this connection
endured till the moment when, after his duel with General Simon, the
Marquis entered a religious house, without any one understanding the
cause of his unexpected and sudden resolution.

The princess, having not yet heard the hour of her conversion strike,
continued to whirl round the vortex of the world with a greedy, jealous,
and hateful ardor, for she saw that the last years of her beauty were
dying out.

An estimate of the character of this woman may be formed from the
following fact:

Still very agreeable, she wished to close her worldly and volatile career
with some brilliant and final triumph, as a great actress knows the
proper time to withdraw from the stage so as to leave regrets behind.
Desirous of offering up this final incense to her own vanity, the
princess skillfully selected her victims.  She spied out in the world a
young couple who idolized each other; and, by dint of cunning and
address, she succeeded in taking away the lover from his mistress, a
charming woman of eighteen, by whom he was adored.  This triumph being
achieved, Madame Saint-Dizier retired from the fashionable world in the
full blaze of her exploit.  After many long conversations with the Abbe-
Marquis d'Aigrigny, who had become a renowned preacher, she departed
suddenly from Paris, and spent two years upon her estate near Dunkirk, to
which she took only one of her female attendants, viz., Mrs. Grivois.

When the princess afterwards returned to Paris, it was impossible to
recognize the frivolous, intriguing, and dissipated woman she had
formerly been.  The metamorphosis was as complete as it was extraordinary
and even startling.  Saint-Dizier House, heretofore open to the banquets
and festivals of every kind of pleasure, became gloomily silent and
austere.  Instead of the world of elegance and fashion, the princess now
received in her mansion only women of ostentatious piety, and men of
consequence, who were remarkably exemplary by the extravagant rigor of
their religious and monarchial principles.  Above all, she drew around
her several noted members of the higher orders of the clergy.  She was
appointed patroness of a body of religious females.  She had her own
confessor, chaplin, almoner, and even spiritual director; but this last
performed his functions in partibus.  The Marquis-Abbe d'Aigrigny
continued in reality to be her spiritual guide; and it is almost
unnecessary to say that for a long time past their mutual relations as to
flirting had entirely ceased.

This sudden and complete conversion of a gay and distinguished woman,
especially as it was loudly trumpeted forth, struck the greater number of
persons with wonder and respect.  Others, more discerning, only smiled.

A single anecdote, from amongst a thousand, will suffice to show the
alarming influence and power which the princess had acquired since her
affiliation with the Jesuits.  This anecdote will also exhibit the deep,
vindictive, and pitiless character of this woman, whom Adrienne de
Cardoville had so imprudently made herself ready to brave.

Amongst the persons who smiled more or less at the conversion of Madame
de Saint-Dizier were the young and charming couple whom she had so
cruelly disunited before she quitted forever the scenes of revelry in
which she had lived.  The young couple became more impassioned and
devoted to each other than ever; they were reconciled and married, after
the passing storm which had hurled them asunder; and they indulged in no
other vengeance against the author of their temporary infelicity than
that of mildly jesting at the pious conversion of the woman who had done
them so much injury.

Some time after, a terrible fatality overtook the loving pair.  The
husband, until then blindly unsuspicious, was suddenly inflamed by
anonymous communications.  A dreadful rupture ensued, and the young wife

As for the husband, certain vague rumors, far from distinct, yet pregnant
with secret meanings, perfidiously contrived, and a thousand times more
detestable than formal accusations, which can, at least, be met and
destroyed, were strewn about him with so much perseverance, with a skill
so diabolical, and by means and ways so very various, that his best
friends, by little and little, withdrew themselves from him, thus
yielding to the slow, irresistible influence of that incessant whispering
and buzzing, confused as indistinct, amounting to some such results as

"Well! you know!" says one.

"No!" replies another.

"People say very vile things about him."

"Do they? really!  What then?"

"I don't know!  Bad reports!  Rumors grievously affecting his honor!"

"The deuce!  That's very serious.  It accounts for the coldness with
which he is now everywhere received!"

"I shall avoid him in future!"

"So will I," etc.

Such is the world, that very often nothing more than groundless surmises
are necessary to brand a man whose very, happiness may have incurred
envy.  So it was with the gentleman of whom we speak.  The unfortunate
man, seeing the void around him extending itself,--feeling (so to speak)
the earth crumbling from beneath his feet, knew not where to find or
grasp the impalpable enemy whose blows he felt; for not once had the idea
occurred to him of suspecting the princess, whom he had not seen since
his adventure with her.  Anxiously desiring to learn why he was so much
shunned and despised, he at length sought an explanation from an old
friend; but he received only a disdainfully evasive answer; at which,
being exasperated, he demanded satisfaction.  His adversary replied--"If
you can find two persons of our acquaintance, I will fight you!"  The
unhappy man could not find one!

Finally, forsaken by all, without having ever obtained an explanation of
the reason for forsaking him--suffering keenly for the fate of the wife
whom he had lost, he became mad with grief, rage, and despair, and killed

On the day of his death, Madame de Saint-Dizier remarked that it was fit
and necessary that one who had lived so shamefully should come to an
equally shameful end, and that he who had so long jested at all laws,
human and divine, could not seemly otherwise terminate his wretched life
than by perpetrating a last crime--suicide!  And the friends of Madame de
Saint-Dizier hawked about and everywhere repeated these terrible words
with a contrite air, as if beatified and convinced!  But this was not
all.  Along with chastisements there were rewards.

Observant people remarked that the favorites of the religious clan of
Madame de Saint-Dizier rose to high distinction with singular rapidity.
The virtuous young men, such as were religiously attentive to tiresome
sermons, were married to rich orphans of the Sacred Heart Convents, who
were held in reserve for the purpose; poor young girls, who, learning too
late what it is to have a pious husband selected and imposed upon them by
a set of devotees, often expiated by very bitter tears the deceitful
favor of thus being admitted into a world of hypocrisy and falsehood, in
which they found themselves strangers without support, crushed by it if
they dared to complain of the marriages to which they had been condemned.

In the parlor of Madame de Saint-Dizier were appointed prefects,
colonels, treasurers, deputies, academicians, bishops and peers of the
realm, from whom nothing more was required in return for the all-powerful
support bestowed upon them, but to wear a pious gloss, sometimes publicly
take the communion, swear furious war against everything impious or
revolutionary,--and above all, correspond confidentially upon "different
subjects of his choosing" with the Abbe d'Aigrigny,--an amusement,
moreover, which was very agreeable; for the abbe was the most amiable man
in the world, the most witty, and above all, the most obliging.  The
following is an historical fact, which requires the bitter and vengeful
irony of Moliere or Pascal to do it justice.

During the last year of the Restoration, there was one of the mighty
dignitaries of the court a firm and independent man, who did not make
profession (as the holy fathers call it), that is, who did not
communicate at the altar.  The splendor amid which he moved was
calculated to give the weight of a very injurious example to his
indifference.  The Abbe-Marquis d'Aigrigny was therefore despatched to
him; and he knowing the honorable and elevated character of the non-
communicant, thought that if he could only bring him to profess by any
means (whatever the means might be) the effect would be what was desired.
Like a man of intellect, the abbe prized the dogma but cheaply himself.
He only spoke of the suitableness of the step, and of the highly salutary
example which the resolution to adopt it would afford to the public.

"M. Abbe," replied the person sought to be influenced, "I have a greater
respect for religion than you have.  I should consider it an infamous
mockery to go to the communion table without feeling the proper

"Nonsense! you inflexible man! you frowning Alcestes," said the Marquis-
Abbe, smiling slyly.  "Your profits and your scruples will go together,
believe me, by listening to me.  In short, we shall manage to make it a
BLANK COMMUNION for you; for after all, what is it that we ask?--only the

Now, a BLANK COMMUNION means breaking an unconsecrated wafer!

The Abbe-Marquis retired with his offers, which were rejected with
indignation;--but then, the refractory man was dismissed from his place
at court.  This was but a single isolated fact.  Woe to all who found
themselves opposed to the interest and principles of Madame de Saint-
Dizier or her friends!  Sooner or later, directly or indirectly, they

Next Page > >

Other sites: