Chateaubriand's memoirs, XXXIV, 10

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Mémoires d'Outre-tombe

Book XXXIV, chapter 10
A song of Béranger’s: and my reply – A return to Paris for Briqueville’s proposal

During the dinner at the Café de Paris which I have just mentioned to you, Monsieur de Béranger sang me the admirable song published as:

Chateaubriand, why then flee your country,
Fleeing her love, our incense and our care?’

This verse about the Bourbons caught people’s attention:

And would you free yourself from their fall!
Then know more of their foolish vanity:
Among the ills, they blame even Heaven for,
Their ungrateful hearts place your loyalty.’

I replied from Switzerland to this song which partakes of the history of our times, in a letter which is printed at the start of my pamphlet regarding Briqueville’s proposal. I told the songwriter: ‘From the place where I am writing, Sir, I can see the country house where Lord Byron lived and the roofs of Madame de Staël’s chateau. Where is the bard of Childe Harold? Where is the authoress of Corinne? My over-long life resembles those Roman roads bordered by funeral monuments.’

I returned to Geneva; I then conducted Madame de Chateaubriand to Paris, and brought back the manuscript countering Briqueville’s proposal regarding the banishment of the Bourbons, a proposal considered at the session of the Deputies held on the 17th of September of this year: some link their lives to success, others to misfortune.