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At a State ball she first saw again the Empress, Marie Thérèse, daughter of the Queen of Naples, whom she found much changed in appearance. She had painted her portrait in 1792.Mme. de Genlis had friends amongst old and new, French and foreign. The Vernets, Mme. Le Brun, Mme. Grollier, Gros, Gerard, Isabey, Cherubini, Halévy, all the great singers and musicians were among her friends. She lived to see the first years of the brilliant, too short career of Malibran. Pasta, Grassini, Talma, Garat, and numbers of other artistic celebrities mingled with [481] her literary friends. The household of Isabey was like an idyl. He had met his wife in the Luxembourg gardens, a beautiful girl who went there to lead about her blind father. They married and were always happy though for a long time poor. But the fame of Isabey rose; he was professor of painting at the great school of Mme. Campan, where every one under the Empire sent their daughters. He painted Joséphine and all the people of rank and fashion, and received them all at his parties in his own h?tel. Mme. Isabey lived to be eighty-eight, always pretty and charming. Her hair was white, she always dressed in white lace and muslin, and had everything white in her salon, even to an ivory spinning wheel.

Napoleon gave him a consulship at Alicante, where he spent some years. Before he went, Ouvrard offered him the cottage in the Champs-Elysées and a pension of twelve thousand francs, which he refused with indignation. He was again a journalist, and would live by his pen.Rosalie was rather plain, with irregular but expressive features, small eyes and a chin inclined to be square and decided; she was precocious for her age, but good-tempered, calm, and possessing great strength of character.To walk about Paris was at first most painful to Mme. de Montagu. The sound of carts in the streets made her shudder, the churches were [259] mostly in ruins or closed. The few that were open were served by prêtres assermentés.

He did not, in fact, recognise her at all, but he wished to save her. Turning to the crowd, he said—Taking leave of her friends, who implored her not to leave them, she started for Brussels, accompanied by her niece Henriette and Pamela, who went part of the way with her. At Antwerp she met her son-in-law, M. de Lawoestine, who had been to visit her when she was living in Holstein. With her two sons-in-law she was always on the most friendly and affectionate terms.

For she was as much loved as he was detested. German though she was she identified herself with the nation whose crown she wore, she carried on the traditions of Peter the Great and Elizabeth; made friends of the church, the army, and the nobles, and yet had prudence enough to avoid by any open defiance hastening the vengeance of Peter, who, in spite of the warnings of the King of Prussia, despised his enemies, disbelieved in his unpopularity, and occupied himself with projects for adopting as his heir the unfortunate Ivan VI., whom Elizabeth had dethroned and imprisoned, disowning his son, divorcing his wife, and marrying the Countess Woronsoff. Whilst he loitered away his time with the latter at Oranienbaum, the conspiracy broke forth; headed by the brothers Orloff, five men of gigantic stature, powerful and capable in mind and body. They were all in the Guards, and succeeded in bringing over that and six other regiments. Catherine and one of her ladies left the palace in a cart disguised as peasants, then, changing into officers’ uniforms, arrived at the barracks, where Catherine was hailed with enthusiasm by soldiers, clergy, and people as Catherine II., Empress of all the Russias. [45]Mme. Vigée, or rather Mme. le Sèvre, had certainly, by her obstinate folly, succeeded in ruining first her own life, then her daughter’s; for the two deplorable marriages she had arranged, both of them entirely for mercenary reasons, had turned out as badly as possible. Her own was the worst, as the husband she had chosen was the more odious of the two men, and she had no means of escaping from him; but Lisette’s was disastrous enough.[383]

Directly the Duc de Chartres heard of the project he came to ask to be of the party, and as he was not as yet the open enemy of the royal family, his request was granted.For nine years Mme. de Genlis lived at the Arsenal, and then moved to another apartment, but was always surrounded with friends and consideration. Except amongst her immediate relations and adopted children, she was not so deeply loved as Mme. Le Brun, or even the eccentric Mme. de Stael, but her acquaintance and friendship was sought by numbers of persons, French [469] and others, who were attracted by her books, conversation, musical, and other talents.

After her brother’s death she lost much of her prestige, and held her salon in the rue St. Honoré, most of her habitués, after her death, transferring themselves to the house of Mme. Geoffrin.La substance du peuple et la honte du Roi.”

But one day she received a letter from her aunt, Mme. de Tessé, inviting her to come and live with her at Lowernberg in the canton of Fribourg.

FRAN?OIS MARIE AROUET DE VOLTAIREWHEN Elisabeth Louise Vigée was born at Paris, April, 1755, the French court and monarchy were still at the height of their splendour and power.[129]

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CHAPTER IIIAs M. de Genlis was with his regiment, she went with a friend, the Marquise de Brugnon, who was also young and pretty, MM. de Bouzolle and de Nedonchel. A room had been lent them on the ground floor of a new house from which to see the fête, and, fearing there would be a great crowd, they arrived directly after dinner. There was some delay before the fireworks began, and Félicité, who was, with all her talents, very often extremely silly and affected, declared that she had waited so long she did not care to see the fireworks, and persisted in keeping her eyes shut until they were over.

And amidst all the oppression, vice, and evil of which we hear so often in France of the eighteenth century, there was also much good of which [10] we hear little or nothing. The reason is obvious. Good people are, unfortunately, seldom so amusing to write or read about as bad ones. Has any one ever met with a child who wanted to be told a story about a good little girl or boy? And is it not true, though lamentable, that there are many persons who would rather read a book about a bushranger than a bishop?


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