Chateaubriand's memoirs, XXVIII, 13

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XXVIII, 12 << Chateaubriand's memoirs >> XXVIII, 14

Mémoires d'Outre-tombe

Book XXVIII, chapter 13
A letter from General Sébastiani

My later articles even stirred up Monsieur de Lafayette who, as sole compliment, sent me a laurel leaf. The effect of my views, to the great surprise of those who had no belief in them, made itself felt, from the booksellers who sent a deputation to me, to the parliamentarians who were initially furthest from my politics. The signature on the letter shown below, as proof of what I claim, caused some astonishment. It is only necessary to note the signature of this letter, and the alteration in the ideas and position of him that wrote it and him that received it: as for the wording, I am Bossuet and Montesquieu, that goes without saying; we authors, that is our daily bread, just as Ministers are always Sully and Colbert.

‘Monsieur le Vicomte,
Permit me to associate myself with the general admiration for you: I have experienced the sentiment for far too long to resist the desire to express it to you.
You have united the pride of Bossuet with the profundity of Montesquieu: you have rediscovered their pen and their genius. Your articles provide a great education for Statesmen.
In the new style of warfare you have initiated, you recall the powerful hand of he who, in other battles, also filled the world with glory. May your successes be more lasting: they concern our country and mankind.
All those who, as I do, embrace the principles of constitutional monarchy, are proud to find in you their noblest interpreter.
Accept, Monsieur le Vicomte, fresh assurance of my highest esteem.
Sunday, the 30th of October.’

Thus friends, enemies, adversaries fell at my feet at the moment of victory. All the faint-hearts and ambitious types who thought me lost saw me rise again, radiant, from the clouds of dust shrouding the lists: it was my second Spanish War; I triumphed over all the parties at home as I had triumphed abroad over France’s enemies. It had been necessary to pay with my person, just as with my despatches I had paralysed and rendered vain the despatches of Prince von Metternich and Mr Canning.