A Blupete Biography Page

Part 4 Of
Adele Hugo

On arriving at his law office at Halifax during 1866, lawyer Robert Motton described a veiled woman, who upon raising her veil revealed a remarkably handsome face. Her complexion dark, a Roman nose, jet-black hair inclined to be wavy, and eyes of piercing brightness which would burst into flame at the first touch of passion. She had come to consult him on a matter of considerable delicacy.

Was there some sort of law which might assist her? She tells of her relationship with a certain Lieutenant Pinson of the 16th. She had been driven to seek legal counsel, because -- while she had what she calculated a promise of marriage -- the news was now about that Lieutenant Pinson was engaged to marry a lady, high placed in Halifax society. Was there no laws against bigamy? Was there no such thing as a legal remedy for "breach of promise"? The lawyer patiently reviewed the law and emphasized the necessity of having good evidence in hand before proceeding with the cost and embarrassment of a legal suit.26

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We now must flashback, and tell the story of Adele Hugo from the beginning. She was Victor Hugo's youngest child, her family knew her as "Deedee." Our previous parts to this piece will paint in the background of her youth. She was a daughter in a different age, an age of revolution and political intrigue where women of that day could but standby and be never in a position to offer an opinion on events except only in the rarest circumstances, and then, only to a receptive person. Adele's mother, it seems might have been such a person; but she had her own cross to bear. To what extend Adele was aware of the broad affairs of her father, her mother, her grandparents -- one can only speculate. She led a lonely life on the Channel Islands with rumours of infidelity running through her head. Like most young adults she needed to escape her particular situation. One that reflected the oddities of her famous father; the remoteness of two brothers whose every thought was how they might follow their father; the death of her only sister, who at the time was showing every aspect of success and happiness; and, her mother, deprived, as she was of her true love.

It will be recalled that when Victor Hugo fled Paris in 1852, he did so because he thought the new regime -- it was then that Napoleon III became Emperor of France -- would imprison him account of his objections. Both of Hugo's sons (Charles and Fancois-Victor) because of certain anti-government articles written by them were both imprisoned for a number of months. In addition to the two Hugo boys who were obliged to cool their pens on account of imprisonment, there was a close family friend, Auguste Vacquerie27, who was also imprisoned because of his political views. In July of 1852, Hugo then in residence on Jersey, his wife and daughter -- the two Adeles -- together with Auguste Vacquerie freshly released from prison, left Paris, and, via Southampton, sailed for Jersey. While the sons were back and forth between Brussels, Paris and the Channel Islands, Auguste Vacquerie became part of the family. Auguste was devoted to his wish, and probably the wish of her family, to be a son-in-law to Victor Hugo: he was in love with Adele.

In 1848, Hugo's only other living daughter, the 24 year old Leopoldine and her husband of seven months, Charles Vacquerie, died in a boating accident on the Seine. Leopoldine was at the time three months pregnant. From all accounts Charles and Leopoldine had made a good match and their deaths came as a great blow to the family. Auguste Vacquerie was Charles' brother. Auguste was convinced that as good a match as his brother had made with Leopoldine might be made between he and Adele.

At the age of 16, just about a year before the tragic loss of Leopoldine and Charles, Adele fell for Auguste Vacquerie. He at that time was 26. The family was prepared to bless this union, however, because of Adele's age, marriage would have to wait. For years after that, as can be seen, Augustine seems to have been very much part of the household; but Adele's attraction to him waned and nothing came of her juvenile crush. As she entered her twenties it was thought important for the family to get Adele married off and efforts were made in that regard. Adele received as many as five marriage proposals from some of "the continent's most eligible bachelors.28 She refused them all. Meanwhile the spurned Vacquerie remained in the household and very much in love with Adele."29

Before we introduce Lieutenant Pinson, there is one other memorable encounter that Adele had. This was with the sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Clesinger. At age 17, Adele fell in love with him. Clesinger was described as "an unsavoury" though talented sculptor. The family was unlikely to accept Clesinger as a family member. No problem came, however, of Adele's new attachment, as she soon tired of him, too.30 "Her lengthy fixation on Clesinger, when there was so many other eligible men around -- including Auguste Vacquerie -- was the first indication that something might be wrong with the otherwise brilliant Adele.31

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Peter Landry
2011

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