THE year 1788 was the last of the old régime. Mme. Le Brun was now thirty-two and at the height of her fame and prosperity. She had more commissions than she could execute, more engagements than she could keep, more invitations than she could accept, but her mind was full of gloomy presentiments. She passed the summer as usual between Paris and the country houses where she stayed.
Married when a mere child to the Duc de Fleury, great-nephew of the Cardinal, there was no sort of affection between her husband and herself, each went their own way, and they were scarcely ever in each other’s society. He had also emigrated, but he was not in Rome, and Mme. Le Brun, who was very fond of her, foresaw with anxiety and  misgiving the dangers and difficulties which were certain to beset one so young, so lovely, so attractive, and so unprotected, with no one to guide or influence her. Full of romance and passion, surrounded with admiration and temptation, she was already carrying on a correspondence, which could not be anything but dangerous, with the Duc de Lauzun, a handsome, fascinating roué, who had not quitted France, and was afterwards guillotined.Mesdames de France were in many respects excellent women: religious, charitable to the poor, strict in their duties. The three elder ones had stayed by their father in his fatal illness, by which Adéla?de and Sophie had caught the small-pox. Louise was a saintly person; and all of them were devoted to their family and friends. But they were narrow-minded, obstinate, and prejudiced to an extraordinary degree, and they allowed their hatred of the house of Austria to include their niece, the young Queen; their unjust animosity against whom was the cause of incalculable mischief.The next morning they went to Raincy, where the Duke and M. de Sillery spent the whole of the day with them. The infatuation between the Duke and Mme. de Genlis seems to have been at an end, if we may trust her account of that last day.
She found La Fayette as usual very affectionate to her, very much opposed to their emigrating, quite confident in the virtues of the mob, who were burning, robbing, and murdering all over the country, and whose idol he still was.They received Mme. Le Brun very kindly, and she next went to see the Comtesse de Provence, for the second and third brothers, the Counts of Provence and Artois, had taken refuge at their sister’s court.
Though her winters were generally spent in Paris, Pauline only went out quietly amongst her own friends, not entering at all into the society of the imperial court, which was altogether objectionable to her.
Thrusting him away she pulled out the list, held it up to the sans-culottes, and exclaimed with defiance
After her proceedings at the Bastille and the Cordeliers, and considering her connection with the revolutionary party, Mme. de Genlis (or Sillery, as she was also called) need not have expressed the surprise and indignation she did at the arrival of a body of police to search her house for arms, reported to be stored there. They were sent by La Fayette, who had done even more mischief than she had; but for some reason they did not like each other. The touchy, conceited Republican poet, Marie Joseph Chénier, who ranted against religion, royalty, and everything and everybody superior to himself, began to make love to Mme. de Genlis, and when she objected to his impertinent familiarity, said furiously: “You are right; I am  neither a grand seigneur nor a duke!”—which specimen of the manners of her party disgusted her extremely. In her “Mémoires” she relates of this worthy that he was accused of having participated in the condemnation of his brother André, also a poet, executed under the Terror. This was, however, almost certainly untrue, but it was said that he could have saved him if he had made use of the influence he possessed with the Terrorists, but that he either feared or did not care to do so. The celebrated actress, Mlle. Dumesnil, then old and infirm, received one day a visit from him, during which he tormented her to recite something for him. She was ill in bed, but nevertheless he went on begging that she would recite only one line that he might say he had heard her, when, turning towards him with a violent effort she said—“And why not grant it?”
They left Rome late in April, 1792, and travelled slowly along by Perugia, Florence, Siena, Parma, and Mantova to Venice, where they arrived the eve of the Ascension, and saw the splendid ceremony of the marriage of the Doge and the Adriatic. There was a magnificent fête in the evening, the battle of the gondoliers and illumination of the Piazza di San Marco; where a fair as well as the illumination went on for a fortnight.
Most of the rabid mob believed him to be so fanatical a republican that he wore the tricolour by night as well as by day; a few, who guessed the truth, admired his presence of mind and let him escape.
Another of her introductions was to Prince von Kaunitz, the great Minister of Maria Theresa, whose power and influence had been such that he was called le cocher de l’Europe;  and whose disinterested single-minded patriotism was shown in his answer, when, having proposed a certain field-marshal as president of the council of war, the Empress remarked—详情
Copyright © 2020