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Facts About the Incredible Career of Mlle. Henriette
Deluzy-Desportes, Parisian Governess, Who, When
Falsely Accused of the Murder of Her Employer's
Jealous Wife, Pleaded Her Own Case Before the
Chancellor and Won Complete Exoneration
Sensation of Two Continents, The Trial Helped
To Drive Louis Philippe From The French Throne
By Harry Lee
ow HE words used as the title of this story were spoken
by Mlle. Henriette Deluzy-Desportes some time after the agony of her false imprisonment. Henry Field, the young American minister who had helped her during her trial, also aided her in securing a position as teacher of French in an exclusive girls’ school in New York. When her pupils discovered her past and taunted her with it, she was tempted to resign, but Field urged her to tell them her story as a means of winning their respect. This she did, beginning with the words, “I will tell you a
The Duke of Choiseul-Praslin was a magnifico of the reign of Louis Philippe. His was a famous name. He was descended from a long line of soldiers and statesmen revered by all true Frenchmen. But in spite of this advantage he left an ignoble memory. ~~Edmerd-Pearson in his book, “The Instigation of the Devil,” a collection of murder studies, heads the chapter devoted to the ill-starred nobleman—The Wicked Duke. Such indeed he seemed to Victor Hugo and other writers of his day. We shall see, however, that a famous novelist of the present time, sees him in a more sympathetic light.
Born under Napoleon, he was forty-two in 1847, and an honored member of the House of Peers. King Louis Philippe was his intimate friend. It was ‘the wicked duke’ who did much, inadvertently no doubt, to gain the King the ill-will of the people. And a year later Louis lost his throne.
It was in 1847 that the halfmad wife of the Duke was murdered. And in the same year the gentle governess, so loved by the Praslin children who had been her charge for several years, was dragged from seclusion— for she had been discharged by the Duchess—into the white light of international notoriety —and the shadow of the Guillotine.
The Duke and Duchess de Praslin usually spent part of the year at the Chateau de VauxPraslin near Melun, and part of it in Paris at the mansion owned by the father of the Duchess, Marechal Viscount Sebastiani in the rue St. Honore.
It was in the month of August, 1847, that the couple came with their children to the latter place to spend several days before going to a sea beach.
“Murder Cannot Long Be Hid”
People passing along the rue St. Honore at four-thirty the next morning were halted by alarming sounds which came from the stately mans?on.
Shots . . . screams of agony ... the muffled ringing of a bell.
The valet de chambre, the Duke’s valet and the maid of the Duchess, rudely awakened at this unseemly hour, hastened to the door of the great lady’s room but found it locked.
The valet rushed wildly to all other doors and windows but found them barred and the blinds drawn. He knocked at
doors and windows... pounded on them. . . but the maniacal shrieks went on ... mingled
with sounds of overturning furniture...
At last he found that the passageway between the apartments of the Duke and Duchess was open. He found the Duchess
lying in her _ blood-drenched night gown ... her face covered with wounds and scratches.
In the midst of the confusion the Duke burst into the room.
“Ah, my God,” he cried, “what a misfortune!”
He asked his valet which one
of the servants had first arrived—e qe =:
and then began hysterically to lament his motherless children’s plight . . . and that of her aged father. “The poor Marechal’ he
‘ called him.
The news spread like wild-fire. Newsboys called extras on the streets.
The populace began to chafe at the King’s delay in arresting the Duke. Because he was rich? Aristocratic? Was it because he belonged to the Council of Peers?
Angry crowds gathered outside the palace. J
Louis Philippe’s advisors warned him that the people would arise and demand their rights. The King had no trouble in recalling what had once happened in Paris—and the part that had been played by La Petite Louison—better known as La Guillotine.
He signed the order for the arrest of the Duke.
Under the grilling questions of the Chancellor the once proud Duke presented a pitiable sight. He said this and changed it to that. He said that it was her cries which had awakened him. That he feared she was being attacked and ran with his gun to her room to protect her from her assailant, whoever he might be.
He explained the bloodmarks in his own apartment by saying that he had been washing his hands so that the children might not know. Finally, sitting with head in hands, he assured the Procureur du Roi that he was innocent. “I formally deny having struck Madame de Praslin with the weapon that has been shown” he said “or with any weapon.”
Victor Hugo described his appearance as “commonplace. . very gentle ... very false... horribly constrained.”
Cherchez La Femme
All Paris had been aware of the beautiful governess who had until recently lived in the Praslin household. The gossip columns had eagerly suggested that things were not as they should be ... told of the time when the Duke and one of his daughters had been seen at the Theatre when the immortal Rachel played ...and added with characteristic gusto that one ‘Mlle. D. ... a governess’ was in the party.
It was stories like this which had further maddened the jealous Duchess. She had finally
Gendarmes arrest innocent governess and imprison her in the Conciergerie.
The Duke de Praslin, his children and the ill-fated little
discharged Mlle. Henriette. There must have been cause! Where was this woman? Word got about that the Duke and his children, returning from his boyhood home near Melun had brought fruit and flowers to the woman! . x
Surely she must have had a part in the crime. . . might it not be she who was the actual perpetrator of it.
The Duke refused to implicate her in any way? Why? Were they in love?
The arrest of Mile. Henriette Deluzy-Desportes was ordered and she was taken from her humble lodging to a cell in the Conciergerie. While in prison,
the young American minister, Henry Martyn Field, whom she had met once before, came to visit her. He had found out, to comfort her, what was being done with the de Praslin children — had brought the few belongings which had been left in her room — and urged her to let him get an attorney to defend her.
She Refuses Aid
Grateful for his thoughtfulness she positively refused, saying that she would defend herself before the Chancellor.
This she did with honesty and simplicity.
After the trial had been going
on for some time the Duke de Praslin took poison. Mlle. Henriette was taken to his bedside but he refused to incriminate her. Within a week the Duke died.
Mille. Henriette was completely exonerated and freed.
Through the aid of Henry Field she secured a position as teacher of French in an exclusive girls’ school in Gramercy Park, New York. She also for a time taught art in Cooper Union in the same city.
In time she and Henry Field— who was the brother of Cyrus Field of Atlantic Cable fame— were married and for twenty years she was the charming
eer het — xhs De Ser" ‘ wa oe Vewrw* Kk ae —— cotter ane D vies oh a Riek Oa
an end ger ee
Bits of contradictory letters of recommendation for Mlle. Henriette (neither of them posted) by which the Duchess de Praslin drove her husband to madness and murder.
hostess at the Field homes in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and on Gramercy Park, New York. Her wit and gaiety were appreciated by the most brilliant society of the day. She spoke English with a delightful dialect, and always referred to her devoted husband as “My leettle Henri!”
“All This, And Heaven Too”
Her thrillingly triumphant life would never have become widely known except for the fact that it so interested Henry Field’s great niece, Rachel Field, that she could not resist making it into a novel. She called it “All This, and Heaven, Too” and it has had more readers than any
book since “Gone With the Wind.” Written with brilliance and
tender understanding, “All This, and Heaven, Too” takes its place among the truly great novels of the generation. Miss Field spent years of intensive research, making use of every possible source of information, and the result amply proves that truth may be not only stranger than fiction, but more dramatic. None of the noble characters of fact or fiction outshine that of the gently courageous governess.
If Rachel Field draws a more sympathetic pen portrait of the Duke de Praslin than earlier writers, it may well be a truer portrait. “To know all,” say the French “is to pardon all.” Her tireless research into the life of
(Above): Jeffrey Lynn as Henry Martyn Field, young American minister; Bette Davis as Mile. Deluzy-Desportes.
Bette Davis as Mile. DeluzyDesportes. (Lower left): Charles Boyer as the tragic Duke de Praslin.
(Below): Rachel Field, author of the bestselling novel, “All This, and Heaven, Too” with Miss Davis.
the man whose wife's vagaries finally drove him to insanity and crime—may have enabled her to give a truer picture of him.
Warner Bros. have made “All This and Heaven, Too” into a motion picture of which Rachel Field says:
“When All This, and Heaven, Too” was bought for pictures 1
received many dire warnings that once my book reached the screen I might not recognize the story or the characters Ihad written. So I was prepared for
possible drastic changes in the transition from the printed page to the screen. But the adapting of this material has been a revelation to me of what = sympathetic handling of a book can be.
I feel that in all essentials the screen version is not only the book as I wrote it, but a projection of the characters themselves, heightened by the art of Miss Davis and Mr. Boyer and an extraordinarily fine supporting cast.
My grateful thanks to all whe made this picture possible.
Bette Davis is starred in her greatest role as Henriette Deluzy-Desportes. So is Charles Boyer as the soul-torn Duke de Praslin. Henry Martyn Field is in the capable hands of Jeffrey Lynn. The Duchess of Praslin is ably played by Barbara O'Neil.
Others in the large cast are Virginia Weidler, Helen Westley, Walter Hampden, Henry Daniell, Harry Davenport, George Coulouris, Montagu Love, Janet Beecher, June Lockhart, Ann Todd, Richard Nichols, Fritz Leiber, Ian Keith, Sibyl Harris, Edward Fielding, Mary Anderson, Ann Gillis, Peggy Stewart, Victor Kilien and Mrs. Gardner Crane.
“All This, and Heaven, Too” is an Anatole Litvak Production.
“All This, and Heaven, Too” is the unforgettable story of a brave woman who came out of the shadow of the guillotine into the light of love. The book no more assures her immortality than does the picture.
All who doubt the innate goodness of humanity should see “All This, and Heaven, Too.”
It will restore their faith as the faith of her pupils was restored when Mlle. Henriette said
“T will tell you a true story!
Mat of this Entire 7-Col. Sunday Feature Page, Type and Art, Available. Order “ATAHT 701B’—$1—Warner Bros. Campaign Plan Editor, 321 W. 44th Street, New York City