TALLIEN Thérésa Cabarrus Princesse de Chimay - Autograph Letter Signed 1806
Thérésa Cabarrus TALLIEN, Princesse de Chimay (1773-1835)
Autograph Letter Signed (“Th. Cabarrus de Caraman”) to an unidentified gentleman, discussing her precarious financial position.
2 pages 4to in French with integral blank leaf, Paris, 19 May 1806.
An anguished letter from one of the most remarkable women of her time.
Trans: “My God, what is to become of us? . . you are leaving Florence, M. Bedouelle is already far off . . . all our revenues are lost . . . our affairs here needed those in Florence to succeed . . . here is a letter for my father [Francois Cabarrus, founder of the Banco de San Carlos, later Spain’s central bank] who will be happy to see you if you pass through Barcelona . . . we beg you to send us all the funds which you will receive, less those which are payable to Rome and Genoa . . . the Cardinal Maury is expected here [an emigré during the later part of the revolution, the Cardinal returned to France under the Empire and in 1809 was named archbishop of Paris]; you should send me a letter . . . and recommend me . . . let me know if you are going to Madrid via Valencia as I wish my mother could also have the pleasure of your acquaintance . . . you will find a letter for her in Barcleona.
My father has just sent me (thinking I am still in Florence) a letter for His Majesty [probably Eugène, Viceroy of Italy] – would you have the kindness to ensure he receives it . . . Adieu, Monsieur, do not abandon us, do not forget us . . . one day in kindness you promised me a letter for Madame Artaud [wife of the diplomat Alexis-Francois Artaud, who had been posted at Florence] . . . The address on the letter to H.M. was written by my son, what do you think of it?”
Thérésa Cabarrus, Madame Tallien, and finally Princesse de Chimay led a life which would put many adventure novels in the shade. Born into a wealthy Franco-Spanish family, adherents of the Enlightenment, she married the equally wealthy Devin de Fontenay on the eve of the French Revolution. Abandoned by her husband, she allied herself with the moderate revolutionaries, but escaped the guillotine not once, but twice, rescued both times by her second husband Jean-Lambert Tallien. During her second imprisonment, she became friendly with another prisoner, Rose Tascher de Beauharnais, better known as Josephine. Both women were subsequently to become mistresses of the leader of the Directoire, Barras, and Madame Tallien is best known in Britain from the famous Gillray cartoon showing her and Josephine disporting themselves naked before Barras, spied upon by Napoleon.
Napoleon, who was known to dislike independent minded women and disapproved of “loose” women (and few had been “looser” than Madame Tallien) forbade Josephine from seeing her after their marriage (at which Madame Tallien had in fact been one of the very few in attendance). Divorced from Tallien, she married Francois Joseph de Riquet de Caraman, Prince of Chimay (though he was unable to assume his title until 1824), who returned to France under the Empire and was received by Napoleon.
Their financial woes did not extend to later life, as they retired to his chateau at Chimay, where she held musical evenings at the theatre in the chateau’s courtyard.
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