Wednesday, April 16th, 1760.
. . . I told the Councillor Pensionnaire that M. de St. Germain had gone, of which he seemed very glad. . . .
Wednesday, April 16th, 1760.
When I informed Yorke of what I had just heard about St. Germain I expected that he would shield him, for Yorke had begun to negociate with St. Germain and had encouraged him; I have myself seen the originals of his letters to St. Germain, they are very friendly and encouraging. But, instead of shielding St. Germain, Yorke put on his hard, haughty and supercilious expression[p. 208]
saying that he "would be very glad to see St. Germain in the hands of the Police." I was thunderstruck, knowing what I did: I told him my opinion, very gently and diffidently so as not to offend him; but Yorke persisted in saying that "he washed his hands of St. Germain," and refused to let me hive a passport for the Packet Boat which I had asked him to give me.
Pressed by me, Yorke said at last that if I asked him for a passport, as a personal favour, he would not refuse me "owing to my position." I agreed; . . . mentioned that d'Affry might cause us a lot of trouble which might be prevented by giving St. Germain the means to escape, and Yorke then called his Secretary and bade him bring a passport. He signed it and handed it to me "blank," so that St. Germain might fill in his own name or whatever other name he might choose to take in order to avoid the pursuit of d'Affry or his minions. I carried away the passport without showing Yorke to what an extent I was shocked and revolted by what I had witnessed.
Thursday, April 17th, 1760.
The Councillor Pensionnaire writes to tell me that d'Affry called on him in order to complain of me; that d'Affry said he was well informed of everything, that I had gone to see the Comte de St. Germain on Tuesday evening about 10, and had stayed with him until one hour after midnight, that a coach drawn by four horses had arrived before the house with a servant of mine and that M. de St. Germain had left in this coach with my servant behind, and that he (d'Affry) was consequently unable to fulfil his instructions!
April 18th, 1760.
Some months ago Mr. Yorke recommended to me very warmly a certain Mr. Linieres who came here in order to[p. 209]
secure a patent for a machine of new invention. . . . D'Affry raid me a visit, and while speaking of Linieres mentioned that he was connected with St. Germain. The name struck me and excited my curiosity on account of all that I had heard about the Count in England, where he had stayed a considerable time and mixed in the best Society. No one knew who he was, a fact which did not astonish me in a country like England, where there are practically no secret police, but what did astonish me was that in France it was not known either! D'Affry told me that in France the King alone knew it, and in England he believed the Duke of Newcastle knew it also. I repeated to M. d'Affry several particulars which I had heard about St. Germain concerning his manners, wealth and magnificence, the regularity with which he paid his debts, the large sums he had spent in England where life is expensive, etc. M. d'Affry observed that he was decidedly a very remarkable man of whom all kinds of stories were told, each more absurd than the other: for instance that he possessed the Philosopher's Stone, that he was a hundred years old, altho' he did not look like forty, etc.! Having asked him if he knew him personally he answered "yes," that he had met him at the house of the Princesse de Montaubon, that he was a very welcome and well-known figure at Versailles and often called on Madame de Pompadour, that he was exceedingly sumptuous and magnificent, . . . and amongst other things gave me particulars of his munificence with regard to paintings, jewels and curios; he told me still more which I do not remember, nor do I remember all the questions I put him. . . .
Pondering over what occurred between the Comte d'Affry and myself, I have the impression that he was as astonished as I was myself at these particulars with[p. 210]
regard to the figure which the Comte de St. Germain had cut in England and in France being discussed without a single imputation being made against him. . . .
I will mention this in the course of conversation with Yorke. . . .
Yorke spoke of him as being a very cheerful and very polite man, who had insinuated himself into the cabinet of Mme de Pompadour and to whom the King had given Chambord. . . .
He mentioned that later on, he made St. Germain's acquaintance when the latter had been in Amsterdam and came to the Hague. . . . It was in March he (St. Germain) came to see me owing to what Linieres had written him [viz. that Bentinck van Rhoon wished to make his acquaintance]; . . . his conversation pleased me very much, being exceedingly brilliant, varied and full of details about various countries he had visited . . . all very interesting. . . . I was exceedingly pleased with his judgment of persons and places known to me; his manners were exceedingly polite and went to prove that he was a man brought up in the best society. He had come from Amsterdam with Madame Geelvinck and Mr. A. Hope and had been admitted daily to the house of Mayor Hasselaar; he had come to the Hague recommended to M. de Soele, by the Hasselaar family who had taken him to Mme de Byland and elsewhere. On the birthday of the Prince of Orange at the old Court (giving his name at the door) I took him to the Ball where he was spoken to by the Hasselaars, by Mme Geelvinck, Mme Byland and others.
It had been his intention to leave on the day after the Ball, and he had retained a coach from Amsterdam in order to drive home the two ladies who had come with him, but they made him stay three or four days longer.[p. 211]
During this time he was daily with d'Affry and dined at d'Affry's house before returning to Amsterdam; I had several talks with him of which most have slipped from my memory. . . . It is noteworthy that during the interval which elapsed between the day after the Ball and the day on which he left, d'Affry (believing him to be about to start) sent wine and meat for the journey to St. Germain every day. I can bear witness to this myself, as I was present when d'Affry's servant brought them on two succeeding days.
As St. Germain did not leave after all, he went and dined at d'Affry's house. . . .
I went myself to the Comte de St. Germain and advised him in his own interests to leave as soon as possible. I told him I was informed, not directly, but thro' a third person, that d'Affry had instructions to order his arrest and to have him conducted under escort to the French frontier and given up to France, in order that he might be imprisoned there for the rest of his life.
He was exceedingly surprised, not so much at M. de Choiseul giving such an order, as at D'Affry daring to think of doing such a thing in a law-abiding country; he put a lot of questions each one more pertinent than the other, and with the greatest composure in the world; I did not wish to discuss the matter with him, as I should have found it rather difficult to answer his enquiries and enlighten him on the points he raised. I told him there was no time for discussion, but that he should start at once if he considered his safety, that he had till the morrow to make his preparations, as even if M. d'Affry intended to take steps he could not do so until 10 o'c. the next morning, and before then he (St. Germain) should have made and carried out his plans.[p. 212]
The method of his retreat was now discussed as well as the question of where to go. . . .
With regard to the first, I offered him my services . with regard to the second, I suggested England; its proximity, its laws, its constitution and the greatness of this nation offering him a nearer and safer refuge than that of any other country. . . . We agreed on this point; I said that I would procure him a passport from Mr. Yorke, as without it he could not embark on the Packet Boat. As a ship was crossing the next day, I said he would do well to go on board at Hellevoetsluis and to do so as quickly as possible; this done all d'Affry's proceedings would be too late, etc. . . . In the evening about seven or eight o'clock I went to St. Germain and took him the passport. He put a lot of questions to me which I evaded answering, requesting him to think rather of more pressing matters than of queries which were abstruse and useless in the present emergency. He decided to leave: as none of his servants knew either the language or the roads or the customs of the country, he asked me to lend him one of mine, which I did, with pleasure. . . . I did more, I ordered a coach with four horses for the purpose of going to Leyden to be before my house at 4.30. next morning, and told one of my servants to pick up the Comte de St. Germain on the way and stay with him until he should be sent back to me. . . .
(A defence of his (Bentinck's) conduct follows, saying that secret treaties have always been allowed.)
If the Comte de St. Germain had shown as much prudence as he had shown zeal, he would have, I believe, much accelerated Peace; but he relied too much on his own intentions and had not a bad enough opinion of those of the men with whom he had to deal. What piqued[p. 213] [paragraph continues] Comte d'Affry was an underlined sentence in a letter which St. Germain wrote to Mme de Pompadour. (I have heard it from those who have seen it). . . . I have only to account for my conduct to God and my Sovereign . . . as to what goes on in my house . . . the people I see and admit, of these I need give no account. For thirty years I have been a member of the Nobility and I am known never to have mixed with adventurers or impostors, or to have received scoundrels. M. de St. Germain came here with very good recommendations, I saw him because I liked his company and conversation; he is an agreeable and polite man whose conversation is amusing and varied; one can see at a glance that he has been brought up in the very best Society: true I do not know who he is, but the Comte d'Affry told me that his Most Christian Majesty knows; . . . that is enough for me! Should M. de St. Germain return to the Hague I shall again see him, unless the States of Holland forbid it or unless I become convinced myself that he does not merit admittance to my house.
April 25th, 1760.
I have been told that St. Germain was at Dijon and lived there very sumptuously. The Comte de Tavannes, the Governor, wrote to the Court enquiring what policy to pursue with regard to him . . . as he "did not know who he was." . . . He got the reply that he was to show the Comte de St. Germain all the consideration due to a man, of his position, and to permit him to live in his own fashion.
The Comte de St. Germain, by Isabel Cooper-Oakley, , at sacred-texts.com[p. 214]
EXTRACTS FROM THE "MEMOIRS OF HARDENBROCK" (EDITION OF THE HISTORISCH GENOOTSCHAP OF UTRECHT), VOL. I, P. 220; TRANSLATED FROM THE DUTCH ORIGINAL.
I have been told that Rhoon (Bentinck) had despicable relations with the English, amongst whom there was a certain Paymaster named Nugent, although the Comte de St. Germain, who is away at present, considered him well disposed towards France.
Doublet told me the following, declaring he had heard it from Hompesch: . . . "that Rhoon had several secret interviews with the so-called Comte de St. Germain, after which the Comte de St. Germain called on the French Ambassador telling him that Rhoon was not as friendly disposed towards England as was believed; that he (St. Germain) had written to France to this effect and that this being so, such an influential man should be made use of." D'Affry finally answered the repeated entreaties of the Comte de St. Germain by saying that he "knew the Sieur Rhoon well; who, being dependent on England as he was, could not render services of any value to France." He (d'Affry) consequently requested him (St. Germain) no longer to frequent his house.[p. 215]
Upon this followed the demand of France for the arrest of the Comte de St. Germain. He was however warned and left . . . in a carriage with one of Rhoon's servants, armed with a passport which Rhoon had procured him, by the help of the Minister Yorke. The latter, however, would only give it in "blank," and Rhoon filled in the name himself, repeatedly saying that the move on the part of France was nothing but "Court intrigue."
March 10th, 1762.
I have been told that the so-called Comte de St. Germain has now taken up his residence at UBBERGEN near NIMEGUE; that he also owns some landed property near Zutphen; that he has a huge laboratory in his house in which he shuts himself up for whole days at a time; that he knows how to bestow the most lovely colours imaginable on things, for instance on leather, etc.; that he is a great philosopher and lover of Nature; a fine conversationalist; that he seems to be virtuous; that he looks like a Spaniard of high birth; that he speaks with much feeling of Madame his late mother; that he sometimes signs himself "prince d'Es." . . .; that he is proud that he is desirous of encouraging Manufactures in the Republic, but that it is not his intention to favour any one town or Province, in spite of the fact that Amsterdam has already made advantageous offers to him on condition that other places should be excluded; that he has rendered great services to Gronsveld by helping him to prepare the colours for his China Factory in Weesp; that he is on the best of terms with Rhoon, on whom he often calls and with whom he corresponds; that he has besides an enormous correspondence with foreign countries; that he is known at every Court; that the late Prince of Wales (who was a despicable character) treated him very badly,