The Scarlet Pimpernel

by

Baroness Orczy

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An “accredited agent” of the French Republic and the antagonist of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Orczy refers to many of the citizens of the French Republic as near animals who are “human only in name,” and her description of Chauvelin is no different. He is an evil man with “pale, fox-like eyes,” and he “firmly believes that the French aristocrat is the most bitter enemy of France.” Chauvelin is vicious and unforgiving, and his “purpose at heart” is to see every French aristocrat “annihilated.” He is sent to England by France to gather information about the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel and, if possible, ascertain the real identity of the elusive hero. Chauvelin first tries to employ the assistance of Lady Blakeney to unmask the Scarlet Pimpernel, and he banks on her allegiance to France to force her hand; however, when she refuses, he relies on violence. He orders his henchmen to attack Sir Andrew and Lord Anthony, two members of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and discovers through a letter recovered from Sir Andrew that Lady Blakeney’s brother, Armand St. Just, is a traitor to France and in cahoots with the Scarlet Pimpernel. Using Lady Blakeney’s love for her brother, Chauvelin blackmails her into helping him discover the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, who ends up being none other than Lady Blakeney’s husband, Sir Percy. Chauvelin chases Sir Percy all the way to France where, as the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Percy manages to outsmart Chauvelin and rescue both Armand and the Comte de Tournay, a French aristocrat. Chauvelin is a despicable man who relies on fear and violence to accomplish his goals, much like the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror does, and it is through Chauvelin and his failures that Orczy most strongly condemns the French Republic and aligns herself with the aristocracy. Chauvelin’s fate is never revealed, but Orczy implies that he is executed at the guillotine for allowing the Scarlet Pimpernel to escape.

Chauvelin Quotes in The Scarlet Pimpernel

The The Scarlet Pimpernel quotes below are all either spoken by Chauvelin or refer to Chauvelin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of The Scarlet Pimpernel published in 1974.
Chapter 8 Quotes

She had but little real sympathy with those haughty French aristocrats, insolent in their pride of caste, of whom the Comtesse de Tournay de Basserive was so typical an example; but, republican and liberal-minded though she was from principle, she hated and loathed the methods which the young Republic had chosen for establishing itself. She had not been in Paris for some months; the horrors and bloodshed of the Reign of Terror, culminating in the September massacres, had only come across the Channel to her as a faint echo. Robespierre, Danton, Marat, she had not known in their new guise of bloody justiciaries, merciless wielders of the guillotine. Her very soul recoiled in horror from these excesses, to which she feared her brother Armand—moderate republican as he was—might become one day the holocaust.

Related Symbols: The Guillotine
Page Number: 67-8
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“I am sure,” said the Comtesse, pursing up her thin lips, "that if this Chauvelin wishes to do us mischief, he will find a faithful ally in Lady Blakeney.”

“Bless the woman!” ejaculated Lady Portarles; “did ever anyone see such perversity? My Lord Grenville, you have the gift of the gab—will you please explain to Madame la Comtesse that she is acting like a fool? In your position here in England, Madame,” she added, turning a wrathful and resolute face towards the Comtesse, “you cannot afford to put on the hoity-toity airs you French aristocrats are so fond of. Lady Blakeney may or may not be in sympathy with those Ruffians in France; she may or may not have had anything to do with the arrest and condemnation of St. Cyr, or whatever the man’s name is, but she is the leader of fashion in this country; Sir Percy Blakeney has more money than any half-dozen other men put together, he is hand and glove with royalty, and your trying to snub Lady Blakeney will not harm her, but will make you look a fool. Isn’t that so, my lord?”

Chapter 25 Quotes

She looked through the tattered curtain, across at the handsome face of her husband, in whose lazy blue eyes, and behind whose inane smile, she could now so plainly see the strength, energy, and resourcefulness which had caused the Scarlet Pimpernel to be reverenced and trusted by his followers. "There are nineteen of us is ready to lay down our lives for your husband, Lady Blakeney,” Sir Andrew had said to her; and as she looked at the forehead, low, but square and broad, the eyes, blue, yet deep-set and intense, the whole aspect of the man, of indomitable energy, hiding, behind a perfectly acted comedy, his almost superhuman strength of will and marvelous ingenuity, she understood the fascination which he exercised over his followers, for had he not also cast his spells over her heart and her imagination?

Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

The distant roar of the waves now made her shudder; the occasional dismal cry of an owl, or a sea-gull, filled her with unspeakable horror. She thought of the ravenous beasts— in human shape—who lay in wait for their prey, and destroyed them, as mercilessly as any hungry wolf, for the satisfaction of their own appetite of hate. Marguerite was not afraid of the darkness; she only feared that man, on ahead, who was sitting at the bottom of a rough wooden cart, nursing thoughts of vengeance, which would have made the very demons in hell chuckle with delight.

Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

He certainly felt exceedingly vicious, and since he had no reasonable grounds for venting his ill-humour on the soldiers who had but too punctually obeyed his orders, he felt that the son of the despised race would prove an excellent butt. With true French contempt of the Jew, which has survived the lapse of centuries even to this day, he would not go too near him, but said with biting sarcasm, as the wretched old man was brought in full light of the moon by the two soldiers, —

“I suppose now, that being a Jew, you have a good memory for bargains?”

Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

“Dressed as the dirty old Jew," he said gaily, “I knew I should not be recognised. I had met Reuben Goldstein in Calais earlier in the evening. For a few gold pieces he supplied me with this rig-out, and undertook to bury himself out of sight of everybody, whilst he lent me his cart and nag.”

“But if Chauvelin had discovered you,” she gasped excitedly, “your disguise was good ... but he is so sharp.”

“Odd’s fish!” he rejoined quietly, “then certainly the game would have been up. I could but take the risk. I know human nature pretty well by now,” he added, with a note of sadness in his cheery, young voice, “and I know these Frenchmen out and out. They so loathe a Jew, that they never come nearer than a couple of yards of him, and begad! I fancy that I contrived to make myself look about as loathsome an object as it is possible to conceive.”

Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chauvelin Character Timeline in The Scarlet Pimpernel

The timeline below shows where the character Chauvelin appears in The Scarlet Pimpernel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: The Accredited Agent
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
...Marguerite makes her way back to “The Fisherman’s Rest,” she sees a familiar form approaching. “Chauvelin!” Marguerite yells, delighted to encounter an old French friend. After exchanging a few pleasantries, Chauvelin... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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“Have you ever heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel?” Chauvelin asks. Of course, Marguerite has heard of him—everyone in England has. Clothing, food, and horses... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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...men save others “for sheer love of their fellow-men,” and she respects their good deeds. Chauvelin wants to discover the man’s identity and plans, so that he may capture him in... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Outrage
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...Sir Andrew tells Lord Tony that France has “sent an accredited agent,” a man named Chauvelin, to identify and stop the Scarlet Pimpernel. He pulls a small pocketbook from his coat... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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...Lord Tony and Sir Andrew, bind their arms and legs, and search them for correspondence. Chauvelin appears at the door and removes a mask, revealing “pale, fox-like eyes.” He grabs Sir... (full context)
Chapter 10: In the Opera Box
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...Orpheus, where Lord Grenville, the head of the Secretary of State, has a private box. Chauvelin is his guest this evening, and the French agent has already taken his seat. Lord... (full context)
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...sits enthroned in your box to-night.” Lord Grenville wishes he could turn his back on Chauvelin, but he is a government representative, and diplomacy forbids it. Lady Portarles cries, “you don’t... (full context)
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“I am sure,” the Comtesse says, “that if this Chauvelin wishes to do us mischief, he will find a faithful ally in Lady Blakeney.” Lady... (full context)
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...just as Sir Percy and Lady Blakeney arrive. Sir Percy mingles with the crowd, and Chauvelin watches as Lady Blakeney makes her way to her private box. Once she is seated,... (full context)
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Chauvelin tells Lady Blakeney about his recent attack on Sir Andrew and Lord Anthony. Several letters... (full context)
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...drawing of a Scarlet Pimpernel and claimed that the writer would “be at G.’s ball.” Chauvelin smiles. “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” Lady Blakeney says, “and G.’s ball means Grenville’s ball…” Chauvelin nods.... (full context)
Chapter 11: Lord Grenville’s Ball
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...of the massive city estate, Lord Grenville stands ready to greet his distinguished guests, and Chauvelin lurks nearby, scanning the crowd for Lady Blakeney. It is not long before the Prince... (full context)
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“Will Your Highness permit me to introduce M. Chauvelin, the accredited agent of the French Government?” Lord Grenville asks the Prince of Wales. He... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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...our protector, the Scarlet Pimpernel.” The Prince immediately silences him, looking in the direction of Chauvelin. “Nay, Monseigneur,” Chauvelin says to the Prince, “pray do not check this gentleman’s display of... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
...know who he is…See!” The Prince turns and motions to the distinguished crowd. “Ah, Monseigneur,” Chauvelin says, “rumor has it in France that Your Highness could—and you would—give the truest account... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Scrap of Paper
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Loyalty Theme Icon
...of the ball, Lady Blakeney “suffers intensely.” Her nerves have been on edge since meeting Chauvelin at the opera, and now Sir Percy is “surrounded by a crowd of brainless, empty-headed... (full context)
Chapter 14: One O’clock Precisely!
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Alone, Lady Blakeney thinks about her predicament. She will tell Chauvelin what she has discovered, save Armand, and “let that cunning Scarlet Pimpernel extricate himself after... (full context)
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“I think,” says Chauvelin, “that I may safely expect to find the person I seek in the dining-room, fair... (full context)
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Chauvelin promises to send Armand’s “imprudent letter” to Lady Blakeney tomorrow by carrier, and heads directly... (full context)
Chapter 15: Doubt
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Lady Blakeney watches as Chauvelin makes his way through the crowd to the dining-room. After several minutes, a cabinet member... (full context)
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Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Lord Grenville appears to escort Lady Blakeney to her carriage, and Chauvelin is waiting at the door. He takes Lady Blakeney’s arm and guides her to Sir... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Friend
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...She cannot afford “to delude herself with any vain and futile hopes.” The fact that Chauvelin sent her Armand’s letter means that he too has discovered Sir Percy’s identity as the... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
...servant drive her to Sir Andrew’s house in Pall Mall, where she tells him about Chauvelin and that he is heading to Calais to intercept Sir Percy as he attempts to... (full context)
Chapter 21: Suspense
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As Lady Blakeney waits, she thinks about Chauvelin. She had seen nothing of him on her way to Dover, and the coachmen saw... (full context)
Chapter 23: Hope
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...is not so happy. He failed to tell Lady Blakeney before, but he had seen Chauvelin on the beach as they set sail for France. He is likely less than an... (full context)
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...wait should Sir Percy return. Perhaps then they can save some valuable time and evade Chauvelin. Sir Andrew agrees and asks Brogard for a room for Lady Blakeney to wait in.... (full context)
Chapter 24: The Death-Trap
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
...Although Lady Blakeney cannot see their faces, she knows that one of the men is Chauvelin, and the other is Desgas, his “secretary and confidential factotum.” (full context)
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“A plate of soup and a bottle of wine,” Chauvelin orders Brogard “imperiously,” “then clear out of here—understand? I want to be alone.” Once Chauvelin... (full context)
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Lady Blakeney’s high spirit begins to dissipate. For Sir Percy, escape will surely be “impossible.” Chauvelin’s “plans are well laid,” and it seems he has not left the smallest “loophole” through... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Eagle and the Fox
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
...the King!” He throws open the door and steps inside the inn, and upon seeing Chauvelin, “hesitates” for only a moment. “Odd’s fish!” he proclaims. “M. Chauvelin…I vow I never thought... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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“I didn’t know,” Sir Percy says to Chauvelin with a smile, “that you…er…were in holy orders.” Chauvelin is speechless. “But, la!” cries Percy.... (full context)
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Chauvelin sits uncomfortably, looking repeatedly at his watch. “You are expecting a friend, maybe?” Sir Percy... (full context)
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Chauvelin accepts Sir Percy’s offer of a pinch of snuff, and upon placing it in his... (full context)
Chapter 26: The Jew
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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...Blakeney to “collect her scattered senses,” and then she hears Desgas’s voice in the street. Chauvelin runs to the door and opens it. “The tall stranger—quick—did any of you see him?”... (full context)
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“Do the men know their work,” Chauvelin asks Desgas back in the inn. Desgas has given them “very clear orders,” he says,... (full context)
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“Is this the man?” Chauvelin asks Desgas. “No, citoyen,” he replies. Reuben Goldstein is gone with his cart, but this... (full context)
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Chauvelin asks the Jew if he knows what direction the Englishman is heading. “To a place... (full context)
Chapter 27: On the Track
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
...Père Blanchard’s hut, wherever that is, and Lady Blakeney follows the cart in the darkness. Chauvelin sits quietly in the cart, “nursing comfortable thoughts.” Catching the Scarlet Pimpernel will be the... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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Chauvelin doesn’t think of Lady Blakeney at all, and he doesn’t have the “slightest remorse” for... (full context)
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The soldier then tells Chauvelin that while they have not seen the Scarlet Pimpernel, they do believe that they have... (full context)
Chapter 28: The Père Blanchard’s Hut
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“Now listen very attentively, all of you,” Chauvelin says to his men. He tells them they may not have opportunity to talk again,... (full context)
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If Armand and the Comte are alone, Chauvelin continues, the men are to warn one another and take cover. They should wait quietly... (full context)
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Chauvelin turns to the Jew. “Here, you…Aaron, Moses, Abraham, or whatever your confounded name may be,”... (full context)
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...and before she knows it, a strong hand covers her mouth. “Dear me! Dear me!” Chauvelin whispers to Lady Blakeney, “this is indeed a charming surprise.” (full context)
Chapter 29: Trapped
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As Chauvelin’s men carry Lady Blakeney down the footpath, they continue to fine-tune their plans. There are... (full context)
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Chauvelin turns to Lady Blakeney. “Before that handkerchief is removed from your mouth, fair lady,” he... (full context)
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Chauvelin removes the handkerchief and Lady Blakeney remains silent. She tries frantically to conceive of a... (full context)
Chapter 30: The Schooner
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...He is coming! He is betrayed!” she yells. “Percy, my husband, for God’s sake fly!” Chauvelin can “hardly refrain from striking her” and orders his men to silence her. (full context)
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The singing stops and Chauvelin orders his men to the hut. “Into it my men, and let no one escape... (full context)
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Chauvelin moves to enter the hut. “Bring the light in here!” he orders. In the hut,... (full context)
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One of Chauvelin’s men knows the creek in question and offers to take them there at once. Chauvelin... (full context)
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“I suppose now, that being a Jew, you have a good memory for bargains,” Chauvelin says to the Jew. Chauvelin reminds him of their initial bargain—help him find the Scarlet... (full context)
Chapter 31: The Escape
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...Sir Andrew as well. Sir Percy had run into him back in Calais, before meeting Chauvelin at the “Chat Gris.” Percy had sent Sir Andrew here, to the Père Blanchard’s hut,... (full context)
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...for Armand into the hut, Percy gave him a second letter to leave behind for Chauvelin—sending him in the opposite direction to Calais. After the dinghy dropped Armand and the others... (full context)
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...Ffoulkes to Mlle. Suzanne de Tournay is the social event of the season, and M. Chauvelin, the “accredited agent” of France, is never again seen in London, “after that memorable evening... (full context)