This story is in relation with the marriage between Pierre de Montalembert, born in France, not far from Angouleme and Marie-Charlotte de Chassin de Thierry, of Louisbourg. Marie-Charlotte’s maternal grandmother was Jeanne de La Tour, daughter of Jacques, himself the son of Governor Charles de La Tour. Jeanne de La Tour had married twice. (In the evening of her first marriage to Jacques David, dit Pontife, surgeon, which took place in 1703 at Port Royal, there was such a “charivari” going on in the evening at the house where the wedding was being celebrated that the Governor had to send his troops to quiet it down.) Her second marriage took place in Cape Breton with a French Lieutenant by the name of Pierre Rousseau de Savigny.
Marie-Josephte Rousseau, the second child and oldest daughter of this second marriage, who will marry in Louisbourg in 1734 another French officer of the army, name François-Nicolas de Chassin de Thierry, will be the one at the center of this ill-fated love affair of her daughter Marie-Charlotte.
Not yet 20, Marie-Charlotte was deeply in love with a French captain of Louisbourg, by the name of Desmaille, of about her age. But her mother did not like him, or rather she preferred an older man, Pierre de Montalembert, Knight of the Military Order of Saint Louis, Captain of the Marine, Commander of a Royal Battery in Louisbourg, where he was stationed since 1750. In spite of herself, Marie-Charlotte on the morning of Sept. 7, 1755, was forced to walk down the asile of the church of Louisbourg, arm in arm with the man she did not love, and pronounce the fatal words “I do.”
A couple of weeks before the marriage took place, Captain Joubert, who had arrived in Cape Breton also in 1750, was writing to his friend, Colonel de Surlaville, who had returned to France after serving for some time in Cape Breton, from whose correspondance we gather our story: “Mr. de Montalembert is not going to France; he is afraid that what happened the last time he went may take place again and that someone will take advantage of his absence to take away from him his Dulcinea (the lady of his dreams). He is madly in love with the oldest daughter Thierry, who hates him, even though she is determined to honor him with her hand. I told him that it was infatuation on his part, just as others did, but without being able to put him back on the right track. In one word, he wants it to be that way, and it will be that way.”
From another letter we read that the first night she spent with her new husband, Marie-Charlotte got up at three o’clock in the morning, and leaning on the window sill, cried and cried her eyes out.
Not long after the marriage, the strained relation between the two and the company she kept openly with Captain Desmaille soon became the talk of the town.
They had just been married when Governor Drucourt invited them for dinner. She cried all through the meal, displaying a behavior entirely out of place, unworthy even of a child ten years of age. When they left, Montalembert offered his hand, which she refused in contempt.
This was to keep on for a couple of years. In another letter to Col. de Surlaville, written May 12, 1757, by another party, we read: “The poor Montalembert is missing since a month; he went hunting, but did not come back…I might as well tell you that the lubricity of his unworthy spouse, the evil way of his mother-in-law and the debts that he has contracted have pushed him to loose himself. Already in the past, despair had prompted him to lock himself in his room to die of hunger; after three days, he was brought out. Another time, he was found sitting in the snow, at the entrance of the woods, pulling his hair, crutched by the most vivid despair, refusing all help. People were obliged to carry him home.”
A few day later, May 15, Joulbert wrote again to de Surlaville: “It is with great sorrow that I have to tell you of the destiny of poor Montalembert. Since a month, we do not know what happened to him. The soldiers and the Indians have cut the trees towards Mira (8 miles north of Louisbourg), but to no avail. A certain Wednesday he left the house of Mrs. Thierry, where the couple lived since some time, with his gun. Nobody knows where he slept that night. He came back Thursday and slept that night at his mother-in-law’s, whose house is located on the road that leads to Mira, about an hour and a half walk from Louisbourg. He left again next morning. Since then, he had vanished.”
Mr. Joulbert adds “that since many months, he was not recognizable, on account of the grief that his wife was causing him; not satisfied to mistreat him by all kinds of manners, she was carrying on with an officer a courtship nearly wide openly. This wretched woman had ruined him. Montalembert, before getting married, had over two hundred and fifty louis (or pounds); it seems that today he owes about nine thousand pounds.”
Although Mrs. Thierry knew all along what was going on, she did not do anything to remedy the situation. Even Montalembert had been missing for three days before she gave the alarm. It was said that there were “cruelty and barbary” in her house, and everybody knew about it. But Montalembert, in spite of the infidelity of his wife, still loved her too much to leave her! Joulbert adds that if he had listened to him when he did everything that the could to dissuade him from this marriage, he would still be alive, but he listened only to his passion and the beautiful words of his mother-in-law.
His body was found three months later; he had drowned. The question was raised whether he could be buried in sacred gournd; there was a law then requesting that christian burial was to be denied to those who deliberately committed suicide. In this case, as there was no direct proof that he had deliberately killed himself, he was interred in the parish cemetery of Louisbourg the first of September of this same year, 1757.