Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete

Author: Various

Letter XII.

PARIS, August, 1805.

MY LORD:—Bonaparte has been as profuse in his disposal of the Imperial diadem of Germany, as in his promises of the papal tiara of Rome. The Houses of Austria and Brandenburgh, the Electors of Bavaria and Baden, have by turns been cajoled into a belief of his exclusive support towards obtaining it at the first vacancy. Those, however, who have paid attention to his machinations, and studied his actions; who remember his pedantic affectation of being considered a modern, or rather a second Charlemagne; and who have traced his steps through the labyrinth of folly and wickedness, of meanness and greatness, of art, corruption, and policy, which have seated him on the present throne, can entertain little doubt but that he is seriously bent on seizing and adding the sceptre of Germany to the crowns of France and Italy.

During his stay last autumn at Mentz, all those German Electors who had spirit and dignity enough to refuse to attend on him there in person were obliged to send Extraordinary Ambassadors to wait on him, and to compliment him on their part. Though hardly one corner of the veil that covered the intrigues going forward there is yet lifted up, enough is already seen to warn Europe and alarm the world. The secret treaties he concluded there with most of the petty Princes of Germany, against the Chief of the German Empire which not only entirely detached them from their country and its legitimate Sovereign, but made their individual interests hostile and totally opposite to that of the German Commonwealth, transforming them also from independent Princes into vassals of France, both directly increased has already gigantic power, and indirectly encouraged him to extend it beyond what his most sanguine expectation had induced him to hope. I do not make this assertion from a mere supposition in consequence of ulterior occurrences. At a supper with Madame Talleyrand last March, I heard her husband, in a gay, unguarded, or perhaps premeditated moment, say, when mentioning his proposed journey to Italy:

"I prepared myself to pass the Alps last October at Mentz. The first ground-stone of the throne of Italy was, strange as it may seem, laid on the banks of the Rhine: with such an extensive foundation, it must be difficult to shake, and impossible to overturn it."

We were, in the whole, twenty-five persons at table when he spoke thus, many of whom, he well knew, were intimately acquainted both with the Austrian and Prussian Ambassadors, who by the bye, both on the next day sent couriers to their respective Courts.

The French Revolution is neither seen in Germany in that dangerous light which might naturally be expected from the sufferings in which it has involved both Princes and subjects, nor are its future effects dreaded from its past enormities. The cause of this impolitic and anti-patriotic apathy is to be looked for in the palaces of Sovereigns, and not in the dwellings of their people. There exists hardly a single German Prince whose Ministers, courtiers and counsellors are not numbered, and have long been notorious among the anti-social conspirators, the Illuminati: most of them are knaves of abilities, who have usurped the easy direction of ignorance, or forced themselves as guides on weakness or folly, which bow to their charlatanism as if it was sublimity, and hail their sophistry and imposture as inspiration.

Among Princes thus encompassed, the Elector of Bavaria must be allowed the first place. A younger brother of a younger branch, and a colonel in the service of Louis XVI., he neither acquired by education, nor inherited from nature, any talent to reign, nor possessed any one quality that fitted him for a higher situation than the head of a regiment or a lady’s drawing-room. He made himself justly suspected of a moral corruption, as well as of a natural incapacity, when he announced his approbation of the Revolution against his benefactor, the late King of France, who, besides a regiment, had also given him a yearly pension of one hundred thousand livres. Immediately after his unexpected accession to the Electorate of Bavaria, he concluded a subsidiary treaty with your country, and his troops were ordered to combat rebellion, under the standard of Austrian loyalty. For some months it was believed that the Elector wished by his conduct to obliterate the memory of the errors, vices, and principles of the Duc de Deux-Ponts (his former title). But placing all his confidence in a political adventurer and revolutionary fanatic, Montgelas, without either consistency or firmness, without being either bent upon information or anxious about popularity, he threw the whole burden of State on the shoulders of this dangerous man, who soon showed the world that his master, by his first treaties, intended only to pocket your money without serving your cause or interest.

This Montgelas is, on account of his cunning and long standing among them, worshipped by the gang of German Illuminati as an idol rather than revered as an apostle. He is their Baal, before whom they hope to oblige all nations upon earth to prostrate themselves as soon as infidelity has entirely banished Christianity; for the Illuminati do not expect to reign till the last Christian is buried under the rubbish of the last altar of Christ. It is not the fault of Montgelas if such an event has not already occurred in the Electorate of Bavaria.

Within six months after the Treaty of Lundville, Montgelas began in that country his political and religious innovations. The nobility and the clergy were equally attacked; the privileges of the former were invaded, and the property of the latter confiscated; and had not his zeal carried him too far, so as to alarm our new nobles, our new men of property, and new Christians, it is very probable that atheism would have already, without opposition, reared its head in the midst of Germany, and proclaimed there the rights of man, and the code of liberty and equality.

The inhabitants of Bavaria are, as you know, all Roman Catholics, and the most superstitious and ignorant Catholics of Germany. The step is but short from superstition to infidelity; and ignorance has furnished in France more sectaries of atheism than perversity. The Illuminati, brothers and friends of Montgelas, have not been idle in that country. Their writings have perverted those who had no opportunity to hear their speeches, or to witness their example; and I am assured by Count von Beust, who travelled in Bavaria last year, that their progress among the lower classes is astonishing, considering the short period these emissaries have laboured. To any one looking on the map of the Continent, and acquainted with the spirit of our times, this impious focus of illumination must be ominous.

Among the members of the foreign diplomatic corps, there exists not the least doubt but that this Montgelas, as well as Bonaparte’s Minister at Munich, Otto, was acquainted with the treacherous part Mehde de la Touche played against your Minister, Drake; and that it was planned between him and Talleyrand as the surest means to break off all political connections between your country and Bavaria. Mr. Drake was personally liked by the Elector, and was not inattentive either to the plans and views of Montgelas or to the intrigues of Otto. They were, therefore, both doubly interested to remove such a troublesome witness.

M. de Montgelas is now a grand officer of Bonaparte’s Legion of Honour, and he is one of the few foreigners nominated the most worthy of such a distinction. In France he would have been an acquisition either to the factions of a Murat, of a Brissot, or of a Robespierre; and the Goddess of Reason, as well as the God of the Theophilanthropists, might have been sure of counting him among their adorers. At the clubs of the Jacobins or Cordeliers, in the fraternal societies, or in a revolutionary tribunal; in the Committee of Public Safety, or in the council chamber of the Directory, he would equally have made himself notorious and been equally in his place. A stoic sans-culotte under Du Clots, a stanch republican under Robespierre, he would now have been the most pliant and brilliant courtier of Bonaparte.


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Chicago: Various, "Letter XII.," Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853 and trans. Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809 in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2019,

MLA: Various. "Letter XII." Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, edited by Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853, and translated by Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809, in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Various, 'Letter XII.' in Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2019, from