The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

September 22, 2016

September 22, 1743

Quintin Craufurd (September 22, 1743 to November 23, 1819) was well-connected at the French court. He was a Scotsman who accumulated a fortune when he was with the East India Company, and then settled in Paris. He in fact was involved with a plot to rescue Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, after the revolution turned dire. What part he played in distracting the guards, preparing a coach and setting them on a course to Varennes (near the border) I am not sure. What no one did is suggest traveling with the crown in their luggage was a bad idea. And that in fact is how the royal couple were recognised and recaptured. In the aftermath Craufurd fled to Brussels, and then Vienna.

This all happened after Craufurd's  book on the Bastille:

The History of the Bastile: With a Concise Account of the Late Revolution in France (1790)

This history includes the imprisonment of 
Mademoiselle de Launay  in the Bastille. She, better remembered as the famous memoirist, Madame de Stael, was arrested in 1718, because her friends the Duke and Duchess of Maine were suspected of collaborating with the Spanish court.

In these confines, she found a friend in her captor: Lieutenant Maisonrouge. When she confessed her fear of torture to this person, she noticed the subject resulted in his turning away "walking with immensely long steps, and making profound reflections."

This she found ominous. But--

I found out afterwards that the lieutenant "was deaf of one ear, and that I had got "on his deaf side when I addressed my last "observation to him. I have often laughed since at the fright his supposed circumspection then occasioned me."

Craufurd  includes an affecting detour on the topic of imagination:

"Here many desires are precluded, by our being removed from the objects that create them; or stifled in their birth, by the impossibility of their being gratified : but when we are abroad, and dependant on others, things are presented and denied to our wishes in the same instant. Here,...likewise, we are free from the submissions, the duties, the ceremonies of society; and taking all together, I almost think that one is as free at the Bastile, as anywhere else....

She continues to analyze her own experience of going from a life with French nobility to prison.

There are situations that people contemplate at a distance, as they did formerly the regions of the torrid zone; they  thought only of the excessive heat, without considering that it was tempered by winds and rains. When I grew calm,.
..[I] found out a variety of occupations and amusements. It is not the price of things...that renders them really valuable, but our ...need of them. I have been surprized ...since, at the resource I found against listlessness, with a cat. She was big with...young; [
she] had kittens, and those produced others, for I staid long enough to [s]ee different generations."....

Mademoiselle de Launay was discharged from the Bastile on the 6th of June 1720.

The Lieutenant du Roi, in the course of his duties had fallen in love, and wanted what was best for her. He knew this was her freedom.

Craufurd includes these details:

The cat, that had amused her in her solitude, became the favourite companion of Maisonrouge. He says, in a letter to her, dated the 7th, "I  wished you away—you arĂ© gone, and I am wretched."

Quintin Craufurd described and also, participated, in these events convulsing Europe, rather like, Andre Maurois in the last century.

No comments: