Marie Jacinthe de Botidoux to Martha Jefferson (Randolph)

editorial note

The text that follows is part of what Botidoux referred to as one of her “journal” letters. The Editors have broken this manuscript, which spans nearly three months, into sections dated as Botidoux dated them, and grouped each transcription together with its translation. Unless otherwise noted, Botidoux’s original punctuation and spelling have been retained. Links to navigate from one dated section to another appear below.

To “journal” beginning 4 Nov. 1789To previous “journal” entry 30 Dec. 1789To next “journal” entry 2 Jan. 1790

premier janvier 178 1790=

il y a un an ma chere que Nous etions ensemble. Comme Les tems sont Changés, autant je M’amusois autant je m’ennuye actuellement. si je voulois t’ecrire tout Ce que je pense de toi Le chagrin que je ressens de ton absence et Combien je t’aime, je finirois par t’ennuyer Car tu sais que j’ecris encore plus mal que je ne parle sur Cet objet. L’autre jour jenny me parloit qu’une femme de notre Connoissance devoit donner de petits bals [. . .] Cet hivert. Cela ne m’a pas fait Le plus petit plaisir, puisque tu ne pourrois pas y être=je trouve [. . .] a present ennuyeux Le plus beau bal en pensant Combien il seroit different de Ceux de L’hiver dernier—d’ailleur si je M’y amusois Ce ne seroit que L’instant de Dancer et en verité je trouvois plus de plaisir a [. . .] Causer avec toi sur Le bal qu’au bal Même=d’aillur aussi d’ailleur aussi on n’y danceroit que des francaises et Cela m’ennuye a La mort, j’aurai un pretrexe très bon pour ne pas m’en Mêler puisque j’ai un Vesitatoire Vesicatoire au Cou. C’est Mr Dumont qui me La Conseillé en me disant qu’il ne voyoit que Ce seul Moyen de me faire Mieux entendre. je ne L’ai que depuis huit jours ainsi je ne peux encore te dire L’effet qu’il me fera=tout Le Monde m’ecrit d’angleterre que Le Duc Dorset se Marie avec Mlle Cope très riche très jolie et très aimable j’en ai parlé à Lady Elisabeth et D’après sa reponse je Crois que Cela est vrai. Curson M’a aussi écrit que Lady Caroline se marioit mais elle ne M’a pas nommé avec qui=imagine toi qu’a present Les aristocrates s’avisent de Detester mon bon ami mr De La fayette et d’en dire du mal ils pretendent que C’est une hipocrite & & tout en Convenant Cependant qu’il s’est parfaitement bien Comporté à Versaille Le 4 8bre et puis à paris en denoncant Le duc D’orleans au roi (tu sais qu’on met tout Ce qui s’est passé sur Le Compte du duc D’orleans. et au fait je ne sais plus qu’en penser Car il y a bien des presomptions Contre lui) voici une de Leurs histoires C’est qu’il s’est tiré Lui même un Coup de pistolet à poudre dans son Chapeau et qu’ensuite il a été faire sa declaration Comme [. . .] quoi on vouloit L’assassiner, tu vois que Leurs Contes ont beaucoup de sens Commun. tu peux penser L’etat ou Cela me met d’entendre dire des bêtises semblables. il faut que je rende La justice à Ces dames et surtout à mde De virieux de dire qu’elles L’aiment toujours beaucoup Ce qui est fort etonnant Car C’est bien ici L’endroit ou Les sottises ont Le plus grand Debit=il y a environ 15 8 jours qu’un homme en passant dans La rue à 6 heures du matin à assassiné un sentinelle qui etoit dans sa guerite avec un poignard ou il y avoit ecrit dessus vas Devant en attendant La fayette. il est très Certain qu’il y a des Complots formés Contre Lui, on arrêté il y a aussi a peu près 8 jours un Certain Mquis De Fauvras avec sa femme. on ne sait pas trop quels sont Leurs Crimes mais il paroit on dit qu’il etoit question d’assassiner mr De La fayete fayette et (a Ce qu’on pretend) Mr Necker et Mr Bailly et de faire sortir Le roi de paris. monsieur s’est trouvé mêlé dans Ces inculpations a Cause que il avoit eu quelques affaires avec Ce Mquis De fauvras il a été Lui même a L’hotel de ville et à écrit à L’assemblée nationalle pour s’en disculper tu peux imaginer La peine que Cela me fait d’entendre toujours parler de ces Complots Car en verité je suis toujours aussi folle de mon cher La fayette a propos de Complots Contre La vie La petite princesse d’aremberg est morte d’une suite de Couche=as tu entendu jamais parler des personnes que Le Magnetisme rend somnambules et qui disent Lorsquelles sont endormies Les remedes qu’il faut pour Les guerir? il vient de se faire une guerison des plus singulieres par ce moyen—une femme de La Connoissance de mde de Vergennes avoit emmené, de La Campagne il y a quelque tems, une jeune paysanne qui avoit Le ver solitaire. elle L’a Magnetizée, [. . .] et il s’est trouvé fort heureusement que Cela L’a rendue somnanbule. on Lui a demandé Ce qu’il falloit pour La guerir elle a dit de L’herbe d’hoffman [. . .] elle L’a detaillée et dit dans quel endroit on L’a trouveroit. note que Les herboristes eux même ne Connoissent pas Cette herbe. elle a dit quelle voyoit Le ver dans son estomach qu’il avoit des dents quelle devoit Le rendre tel jour à telle heure mais qu’il ne falloit pas qu’on fit Le mondre bruit Le jour arrivé tout Le monde attendoit pour voir si elle avoit dit vrai. une porte a battu et elle a dit que Cela L’empêchoit de Le rendre que Ce seroit tel autre jour on a bien pris Ses precautions et effectivement au jour Marqué elle a rendu 3 aulnes de Ce ver elle a bien reccommandé qu’on ne Lui dise pas qu’elle L’avoit parsceque Cela La feroit mourir elle a encore Marqué un autre jour ou elle devoit Le rendre et elle [. . .] en a rendu 1 aulne ½ elle a dit ensuite qu’il s’etoit noué et effectivement Le dernier Morceau quelle a rendu qui etoit de 2 aulnes1 ½ etoit Noué Comme si on L’avoit fait exprès et à La tête il y avoit des dents Comme elle L’avoit aussi dit—on Lui a demandé une fois que fait Mde De Baujeu actuellement elle est très souffrante a-t-elle repondu elle a été très secouée et a present elle sent des Douleurs Comme si son enfant se detachoit de son Ventre (Cette femme est grosse) il faut Lui donner tel remede qui La soulagera. on a été tout de suite Chez mde De Baujeu elle etoit Dans Le même êtat que Cette fille L’avoit dit, [. . .] ayant été dans un fiacre qui L’avoit très fort fatiguée. elle a pris [. . .] Le remede que Cette fille avoit indiqué et elle s’en est fort bien trouvée. Ce qu’il y a de singulier C’est que Lorsquelle est eveillée elle ne se souvient de rien du tout, elle est très ignorante Comme Le sont toutes Les paysannes et Lorsquelle est dans La Crise elle parle Surtout. elle a fort recommandé qu’on ne Lui dise jamais qu’elle a eu Le Ver Ver solitaire parsceque La revolution que Cela Lui Causeroit La feroit mourir—tu as peut être de La peine a Croire tout Cela. il est Certain que Cela paroit incroyable et C’est pourtant très vrai. je Compte me faire presenter à La dame qui L’a Magnetisée pour quelle me fasse Lui parler Lorsquelle sera dans sa Crise pour Lui demander si Mon vesicatoire Me guerira et si il faut prendre quelqu’autre remede. j’avois dejà entendu parler à mlle grelle d’une portiere de mr De puisequn. que Le Magnetisme rendoit somnanbule et qui avoit indiqué Les remedes pour La guerir de L’epilepsie. [. . .] je n’y avois pas trop de foi mais pour Celle Ci j’en suis aussi sure qu’il est possible de L’être. aussi je suis enchantée d’avoir toujours soutenu que Le Magnetisme n’etoit pas une folie qui ne faisoit aucun effet Comme tout Le monde Le disoit et Le dit encore actuellement=

Le vte De Livron se Marie à une dlle De finance très riche je ne sais si elle est jolie ou non—

editors’ translation

1st of January 1790

It has been a year since we were together, my dear. How times have changed. I am as much bored today as I had fun then. If I were to write you everything I think of you, the sorrow I feel about your absence, and how much I love you, I would end up boring you, because you know that I write even worse than I speak on that subject. The other day Jenny was telling me that a woman we know was to give small balls this winter. This did not give me the slightest pleasure, since you could not be there=I would now find the most beautiful ball boring, thinking how different it would be from those of last winter—Besides, if I had any fun, it would only be while dancing and, to tell you the truth, I would find more pleasure in talking about the ball with you than in the ball itself=Besides also, there would only be French dances, and you know how that bores me to death. I will have a very good excuse not to get involved, since I have a vesicant on my neck. Mr Dumont recommended it to me, saying that he saw no other means to make me hear better. I have had it on for eight days only, so I cannot yet tell you its effect on me==Everybody writes to me from England that the Duke of Dorset is to marry Mlle Cope, very rich, very pretty, and very nice. I spoke about it with Lady Elizabeth, and from her answer, I believe it to be true. Curzon also wrote that Lady Caroline was getting married, but she did not tell me to whom==Imagine that now the aristocrats dare to detest my good friend, Mr Lafayette, and to say bad things about him. They claim that he is a hypocrite etc., etc., all the while conceding that he conducted himself very well at Versailles on October 4, and then in Paris, when he denounced the duc d’Orléans to the king. (You know that they blame the duc d’Orléans for everything that went on and, by the way, I do not know what to think of it anymore, because of a number of presumptions against him.) One of their stories is that he shot his own hat with a pistol and then declared that someone tried to assassinate him. As you see, their tales have much common sense. You can imagine the state of mind it puts me in when I hear such stupidities. I have to do justice to these ladies, and especially to Mde de Virieux, for saying that they still like him very much, which is quite surprising given that this is really the place where nonsense flows at its fullest volume==About 8 days ago a man, walking down the street at 6 in the morning, killed a sentry in his box with a dagger on the handle of which was a note, “Go ahead while waiting for Lafayette.” It is very certain that there are plots against him. Also about 8 days ago, a certain marquis de Favras with his wife were arrested. We do not know exactly what their crimes are, but it is said that they have to do with assassinating Mr Lafayette and (supposedly) Mr Necker and Mr Bailly, and getting the king out of Paris. Monsieur got himself embroiled in this indictment for having had some sort of dealings with this Mr de Favras. He went himself to the Hôtel de Ville and wrote to the National Assembly to declare his innocence. You can imagine how distressed I am, always hearing about these plots, because, in truth, I am still crazy for my dear Lafayette. And on the subject of plots against someone’s life, the young princesse d’Arenberg has died after giving birth==Have you ever heard of people turned into sleepwalkers through magnetism and who, when asleep, say which remedies they need to cure them. A most singular healing of this kind happened recently—A woman with whom Mde de Vergennes is acquainted had brought from the country, some time ago, a young peasant girl who had a tapeworm. She magnetized her, and luckily it made the girl a somnambulist. She was asked what was needed to cure her and she said the herb Hoffman, described it in detail, and said where it could be found. Note that even the herbalists do not know this herb. She said that she saw the worm in her stomach, that it had teeth, and that she would expel it on such a day, at such a time, provided nobody made the slightest noise. When that day came, everybody was waiting to see whether she had told the truth. A door banged which, she said, prevented her from expelling the worm, and now this would occur on another day. On the said day, all precautions were taken and, indeed, she expelled 3 rods of the worm. She strongly recommended that nobody ever tell her that she had tapeworm, because that would kill her. She then set another date when she would expel the rest, and she did expel 1½ rods. She said that the worm was tied in a knot and, indeed, the last piece she expelled, which measured 2½ rods, was knotted, as if done on purpose, and there were teeth in its head, as she had also said—Someone asked her: “What is Mde de Baujeu doing presently?” “She is very ill,” she answered. “She has been tossed around and, right now, she is in pain, as if her child were detaching itself from her womb.” (This woman is pregnant.) “She must be given such and such remedy to ease her pain.” Someone went over to Mde de Baujeu’s right away. She was in the very state that the girl had described, having ridden in a carriage that had tired her immensely. She took the remedy that this girl had indicated and she felt much better. What is peculiar is that when she is awake, the girl does not remember anything at all. She is very ignorant, as are all peasant girls, but when she is in a trance, she talks about everything. She strongly recommended that nobody ever told her that she had tapeworm, because the personal turmoil would kill her—Perhaps you can scarcely believe all that. It certainly sounds unbelievable, and yet it is very true. I am hoping to be introduced to the lady who magnetized her, so that I may address the girl while she is in a trance and ask her whether the vesicant will cure me or whether I should take some other remedy. I had already heard Mlle Grelle talk about a concierge of Mr de Puységur, who had been made a somnambulist through magnetism and indicated the remedy needed to cure her of epilepsy. I had not had too much faith in it, but this time I am as sure as it is possible to be. I am also delighted to have always maintained that magnetism is not a madness that has no effect, as everyone said and still says now==

The vicomte de Livron is marrying a very rich dlle de Finance. I do not know whether she is pretty.

To next “journal” entry 2 Jan. 1790

RC (ViCMRL, on deposit, ViU: Botidoux Letters, # 5385-aa); quotation marks in translation editorially supplied. Translation by Dr. Roland H. Simon.

Lafayette reluctantly led the 5 Oct. (not 4 8bre) 1789 march of thousands of civilians, mostly women, and National Guardsmen to the Palace of Versailles, in an ultimately successful effort to maintain order and persuade the royal family to return to Paris (William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution (1989), 121–3, 127). On 25 Dec. 1789, Thomas de Mahy, marquis de Favras (fauvras), was arrested, as William Short reported, “on suspicion of having designs hostile to the revolution,” namely rescuing the French royal family from the Tuileries Palace, helping them to flee the country, and mobilizing a force of loyal troops to march on Paris and dismantle the National Assembly. The following day a placard was widely distributed in Paris, adding to the details of the plot plans to assassinate finance minister Necker, Paris mayor Bailly, and commander of the National Guard Lafayette. The placard implicated de Favras and King Louis XVI’s brother, the comte de Provence, customarily referred to as monsieur. The comte presented himself at l’hotel de ville, the Paris seat of government, that same day. Before the Assembly, he acknowledged that he was acquainted with de Favras, but asserted that he had “no communication with him whatsoever,” nor any knowledge or part in any plot. Although evidence existed that linked the comte de Provence to de Favras in a royal “escape plan,” even identifying him as the mastermind, de Favras alone was found guilty and hanged on 19 Feb. 1790 (Barry M. Shapiro, Revolutionary Justice in Paris, 1789–1790 [1993], 124–47, 169; Letters on the Events of the Revolution in France: by a French general officer [New York, 1817], 215–16; William Short to John Jay, 26 Dec. 1789, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 16:49–51). The herbe d’hoffman was one of numerous species of Rubiaceae Hoffmannia, native to Central and South America. dlle: “demoiselle.”

1Manuscript: “aulne.”