Chateaubriand's memoirs, XXX, 10

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XXX, 9 << Chateaubriand's memoirs >> XXX, 11

Mémoires d'Outre-tombe

Book XXX, chapter 10
A despatch and a letter

‘Rome, the 7th of May 1829.
Monsieur le Comte,
I have finally received your despatch no. 25 via Messieurs Desgranges and Franqueville. This harsh despatch, drawn up by some clerk badly schooled in foreign affairs, is not what I might have expected given the services I have had the good fortune to render the King during the Conclave, and above all it should have taken account of the person to whom it was addressed. Not one kind word for Monsieur Bellocq, who obtained such precious documents; nothing regarding the request I made on his behalf; useless comments on the nomination of Cardinal Albani, a nomination enacted in Conclave and which no one could foresee or prevent; a nomination regarding which I have not ceased to add my clarifications. In my despatch no. 34, which has certainly reached you by now, I offer you a very straightforward means of ridding yourself of this Cardinal, if he worries France so greatly, and that means will have been half-executed when you receive this letter: tomorrow I take leave of His Holiness; I am handing over the Embassy to Monsieur Bellocq, as Chargé d’Affaires, according to the instructions in your despatch no 24, and departing for Paris.
I have the honour, etc.’

This last note is severe, and brusquely terminated my correspondence with Monsieur Portalis.

‘14th of May 1829.
My departure is fixed for the 16th. Letters from Vienna arrived this morning announcing that Monsieur de Laval has refused the Foreign Ministry; is it true? If he holds to his initial refusal, what will happen? God knows. I hope it will all be decided before I arrive in Paris. It seems to me that we have fallen into paralysis and no longer speak the language of liberty.
You believe I would get on well with Monsieur de Laval; I doubt it. I am not disposed to get on well with anyone. I would like to reach a most peaceful accommodation, and these people choose to quarrel with me. While I had a chance of the Ministry, they could not write enough words of praise and flattery in their despatches; the day the position was taken, or supposedly taken, I am coldly informed of Monsieur de Laval’s nomination in the rudest, and at the same time dullest, of despatches. But in order to become so bland and insolent from one post to another, one can hardly be thinking about whom one is addressing, and Monsieur de Portalis would have been alerted by a word of reply I sent him recently. It is possible that he merely signed it without reading it, as Carnot signed various death warrants on trust.’