类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-12-04 16:50:31


The first great sorrow was the death of Mme. de la Fayette on Christmas Eve, 1808, at the age of forty-eight. Her health had been completely undermined by the terrible experiences of her imprisonments; and an illness caused by blood-poisoning during her captivity with her husband in Austria, where she was not allowed proper medical attendance, was the climax from which she never really recovered. She died as she had lived, like a saint, at La Grange, surrounded by her broken-hearted husband and family, and by her own request was buried at Picpus, where, chiefly by the exertions of the three sisters, a church had been built close to the now consecrated ground where lay buried their mother, sister, grandmother, with many other victims of the Terror.Hurrying away, the concierge soon re-appeared with the police and two soldiers. They proceeded to the pavilion; the door was locked, and just then a strange cry arrested their attention. They beat at the door ordering it to be opened, which it immediately was by a man, who said—“You astonish me!” said the Baronne, when the affair was explained to her; “for at St. Petersburg we were told about it by one of your countrymen, M. L——, who said he knew you very well, and was present at the supper.”

Never in the world’s history was a stranger mingling of generosity and folly, unpractical learning [212] and brutal ignorance, misguided talents and well-meaning stupidity, saintly goodness and diabolical wickedness, heroic deeds and horrible crimes, than in the years ushered in with such triumph and joy by the credulous persons so truly described in later years by Napoleon: “Political economists are nothing but visionaries who dream of plans of finance when they are not fit to be schoolmasters in the smallest village.... Your speculators trace their Utopian schemes upon paper, fools read and believe them, every one babbles about universal happiness, and presently the people have not bread to eat. Then comes a revolution.... Necker was the cause of the saturnalia that devastated France. It was he who overturned the monarchy, and brought Louis XVI. to the scaffold.... Robespierre himself, Danton, and Marat have done less mischief to France than M. Necker. It was he who brought about the Revolution.”Her love for Tallien was beginning to wane. It had never been more than a mad passion, aroused by excitement, romance, and the strange circumstances which threw them into each other’s way; and kept alive by vanity, interest, gratitude, and perhaps above all by success. She wanted Tallien to be a great power, a great man; and she was beginning to see that he was nothing of the sort. If, when Robespierre fell, instead of helping to set up a government composed of other men, he had seized the reins himself, she would have supported him heart and soul, shared his power, ambition, [339] and danger, and probably her admiration and pride might have preserved her love for him. But Tallien had not the power to play such a part; he had neither brains nor character to sway the minds of men and hold their wills in bondage to his own. And now he was in a position which in any line of life surely bars the way to success: he was neither one thing or the other.Mute with astonishment they obeyed, and went to Saint-Germain, where Davoust was presented to Mlle. Leclerc, whom he did not like at all. The marriage took place a few days afterwards.

At last, however, it was finished, and she stood in the presence of Louis XV. He was no longer young, but she thought him handsome and imposing. He had intensely blue eyes, a short but not brusque manner of speaking, and something royal and majestic about his whole bearing which distinguished him from other men. He talked a great deal to Mme. de Puisieux, and made complimentary remarks about Félicité, after which they were presented to the Queen, who was lying in a reclining chair, already suffering from the languor of the fatal illness caused by the recent death of her son, the Dauphin. Then came the presentation to Mesdames, and to the “Children of France,” and in the evening they went to the “jeu de Mesdames.”After the death of the old Maréchal de Noailles in August, 1793, the Duchesse d’Ayen and her eldest daughter moved to Paris with the Maréchale, who was old and feeble and whose reason, always very eccentric, as will be remembered, was becoming still more impaired. Had it not been for her and their devoted kindness to her, the lives of both the Duchess and her daughter might have been saved. Everything was prepared for the flight of the Vicomtesse to England, where her husband was waiting for her, intending to embark for America. The Duchess would probably have succeeded in making her escape also, but she would not leave her old mother-in-law, and Louise would not leave her.

Fragonard, the Proven?al, had more depth and dramatic feeling, the passion of the south and the love of nature in his work gave a stronger, truer, more impressive tone to his pictures; but Boucher, the favourite painter of Louis XV., the Marquise de Pompadour, and the court would seem from his pictures to have looked upon everything in life as if it were a scene in a carnival or fête. His goddesses and saints, even the holy Virgin herself, were painted from models from the theatre, and looked as if they were; his gardens, roses, silks, satins, nymphs, fountains, and garlands were the supreme fashion; every one wanted him to paint their portrait; he had more commissions than he could execute, and his head was turned by the flattery lavished upon him.

Another time she made a charcoal sketch of two heads on the door of a summer-house by the sea, lent to her by Sir William Hamilton. Years afterwards to her astonishment she saw them in England. He had cut them out of the door and sold them to Lord Warwick!

As to the Comte de Beaujolais, he was fond of her, as all her pupils were, for she was extremely kind to them, but he hated and abhorred the principles which his father and she had succeeded in instilling into his brothers and sister, longed to fight for the King and Queen, and took the first opportunity when he met the Comte de Provence in exile to tell him so and make his submission; he had sent him messages of explanation and loyalty directly he could. For more than a year, then, there had been coldness and estrangement between the Duchess and Mme. de Genlis, who, of course, as usual, posed as an injured saint. What had she done? Why this cruel change in the affection and confidence of years? Had she not sacrificed herself to her pupils? Was she not the last person to alienate their affection from their illustrious and admirable mother? Did not all the virtues of her whole life forbid her being suspected or distrusted in any way?

“Vous ne partisez pas, citoyenne, vous ne partisez pas.”As to La Fayette, he had rushed to Paris, violently reproached the Assembly for the attack on the Tuileries, demanded the punishment of the Jacobins, and offered to the King the services which were of no value, and which, as long as they had been of any use, had been at the disposal of his enemies.

A royalist, an emigré, a Prince; but the only man she never ceased to love, and of whom she said, “He was her true husband.”


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Amongst the latter was the singer Désaugiers, a friend of Grétry, well known for his quick and [55] ready answers. Being still in Paris during the Terror, although never of Republican opinions he was obliged, of course, to wear the tricolour cockade. One day he forgot to put it on and presented himself without it at the gate of the Tuileries in order to go into the gardens, but was brusquely stopped by the official, who asked why he was not wearing it; while a crowd of sinister faces at once began to gather round him. Désaugiers saw his danger, but with his usual presence of mind showed neither fear nor confusion. Taking off his hat he looked at it slowly with an air of surprise, saying as if to himself—One of the odious, inevitable republican fêtes was, of course, given to celebrate the events of Thermidor. Mme. Tallien opened a salon, where, as in the others then existing, the strange, uncouth figures of the sans-culottes mingled with others whose appearance and manners showed that they were renegades and traitors to their own order and blood.

“Ah!” he said, “Madame is no ouvrière; it is very well known who she is.It is a singular thing that all the three races, Capétien, Valois, and Bourbon should have ended with three brothers.


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