April 8 1816: At Lady Jersey’s


“Byron and I went to Lady Jersey’s tonight, introduced by Flahaut to Benjamin Constant and his wife. Great compliments de part et d’autre. He told me he was going to address a book to me. He said that when the news of the defeat of Waterloo came to Paris, Regnault4 and other constitutionalists met at his house – they determined to dethrone him. A man came in saying “The Emperor is arrived!” – they all dispersed, leaving Constant alone, as if a stone had been thrown in amongst them. Constant then went to the chamber, and found other constitutionalists taking the same step. Constant said he knew Fouché to be a rogue. He inflamed the war in La Vendée – he told the Duke of Wellington, “Keep me king’s minister, and I’ll do anything – turn me out, and I’ll do nothing – all shall be given up”. But Constant allowed the King had used Fouché very ill. Davout was for giving up from the first, and so making a bargain with Louis – he denied this before Constant when charged with it by Carnot.277 Constant was informed that he was on the list of proscribed. He was advised to go to Fouché, but said he knew the answer that Fouché would give him – “Ce sont des foutus bêtes – éloignez vous pour le moment, mon cher – ça passera tout de suite”. This he would say, buttoning up his breeches. He was told to apply to Talleyrand, but would not. He wrote a memoir to the King, which Louis read, and was so pleased with that he struck out Constant’s name with his own hand. Shortly after Constant had a letter from Fouché, telling him that the King had at his intercession struck out his name and also one from Talleyrand saying that his majesty at his request had not inserted his name in the list!!! Constant said Fouché was the Talleyrand of the mob, and Talleyrand the Fouché of the nobles. Constant told me my view of the state of things in France previous to the coming of the Emperor was quite correct.

—  John Cam Hobhouse writes in his diary, April 8 1816

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