Madame Récamier: Her Lovers, and Her Friends


As the most beautiful woman of her day, Madame Récamier is widely known; as the friend of Châteaubriand and De Staël, she is scarcely less so. An historic as well as literary interest is attached to her name; for she lived throughout the most momentous and exciting period of modern times. Her relations with influential and illustrious men of successive revolutions were intimate and confidential ; and though the rôle she played was but negative, the influence she exerted has closely connected her with the political history of her country.

But interesting as her life is from this point of view, in its social aspect it has a deeper significance. It is the life of a beautiful woman,—and so varied and romantic, so fruitful in incident and rich in experience, that it excites curiosity and invites speculation. It is a life difficult, if not impossible, to understand. Herein lies its peculiar and engrossing fascination. It is a curious web to unravel, a riddle to solve, a problem at once stimulating and baffling. Like the history of the times, it is full of puzzling contradictions and striking contrasts. The daughter of a provincial notary, Madame Récamier was the honored associate of princes. A married woman, she was a wife only in name. A beauty and a belle, she was as much admired by her own as by the other sex. A coquette, she changed passionate lovers into lifelong friends. Accepting the open and exclusive homage of married men, she continued on the best of terms with their wives. One day the mistress of every luxury that wealth can command, — the next a bankrupt’s wife. One year the reigning “ Queen of Society,”—the next a suspected exile. As much flattered and courted when she was poor as while she was rich. Just as fascinating when old and blind as while young and beautiful. Loss of fortune brought no loss of power,—decline of beauty, no decrease of admiration. Modelled by artists, flattered by princes, adored by women, eulogized by men of genius, courted by men of letters, — the beloved of the chivalric Augustus of Prussia, and the selfish, dreamy Châteaubriand, — with the hightoned Montmorencys for her friends, and the simple-minded Ballanche for her slave. Such were some of the triumphs, such some of the contrasts in the life of this remarkable woman.

It is hard to conceive of a more brilliant career, or of one more calculated from its singularity to give rise to contradictory impressions. This natural perplexity is much increased by the character of Madame Récamier’s memoirs, published in 1859, ten years after her death. They are from the pen of Madame Lenormant, the niece of Monsieur Récamier, and the adopted daughter of his wife. To her Madame Récamier bequeathed her papers, with the request that she should write the narrative of her life. Madame Lenormant had a delicate and difficult task to execute. The life she was to portray was strictly a social one. It was closely interwoven with the lives of other persons still living or lately dead. She owed heavy obligations to both. It is, therefore, not surprising, if her narrative is at times broken and obscure, and she a too partial biographer. Not that Madame Lenormant can be called untrustworthy. She cannot be accused of misrepresenting facts, but she does what is almost as bad, —she partially states them. Her vague allusions and half-and-half statements excite curiosity without gratifying it. We also crave to know more than she tells us of the heart-history of this woman who so captivated the world, — to see her sometimes in the silence of solitude, alone with her own thoughts,—to gain an insight into the inner, that we may more perfectly comprehend the outward life which so perplexes and confounds. Instead of all this, we have drawing-room interviews with the object of our interest. We see her chiefly as she appeared in society. We have to be content with what others say of her, in lieu of what she might say for herself. We hear of her conquests, her social triumphs, we listen to panegyrics, but are seldom admitted behind the scenes to judge for ourselves of what is gold and what is tinsel. We, moreover, seek in vain for those unconscious revelations so precious in divining character. The few letters of Madame Récamier that are published have little or no significance. She was not fond of writing, still she corresponded regularly with several, of her friends ; but her correspondence, it seems, has not been obtained by her biographer. The best insight we get, therefore, into the emotional part of her nature is from indirect allusions in letters addressed to her, and from conclusions drawn from her course of conduct in particular cases. Some of the incidents of her life are so dramatic, that, if fully and faithfully told, they would of themselves reveal the true character of the woman, but as it is we have but little help from them. It is impossible to resist the conviction that Madame Lenormant would not hesitate to suppress any circumstances that might cast a shadow on the memory of her aunt. It is true that she occasionally relates facts tending to in jure Madame Récamier, but it is plain to be seen that she herself is totally unconscious of the nature and tendency of these disclosures. Upon the publication of her book, these indiscretions excited the displeasure of Madame Récamier’s warm personal friends. One of them, Madame Möhl, by birth an Englishwoman, undertook her defence. This lady corrects a few slight inaccuracies of the “ Souvenirs,” and since she cannot controvert its more important facts, she attempts to explain them. Her sketch 1 of Madame Récamier is pleasant, from its personal recollections, but far inferior to one by Sainte-Beuve,2 which is eminently significant. Neither, as sources of information, can supply the place of the more voluminous and explicit “ Souvenirs.” It is a little singular that this work has not been translated into English, for, in spite of its lack of method, its diffuseness and disproportionate developments, it is very attractive and interesting. It is also highly valuable for its large collection of letters from distinguished people. In the sketch we propose to make of Madame Récamier’s life, we shall rely mainly upon it for our facts, giving in connection our own view of her character and career.

The beauty which first won celebrity for Madame Récamier was hers by inheritance. Her father was a remarkably handsome man, but a person of narrow capacity, who owed his advancement in life solely to the exertions of his more capable wife. Madame Bernard was a beautiful blonde. She was lively and spirituelle, coquettish and designing. Through her influence with Calonne, minister under Louis XVI., Monsieur Bernard was made Receveur des Finances. Upon this appointment, in 1784, they came to Paris, leaving their only child, Juliette, then seven years old, at Lyons, in the care of an aunt, though she was soon afterward placed in a convent, where she remained three years. Monsieur and Madame Bernard’s style of living in Paris was both elegant and generous. Their house became the resort of the Lyonnese, and also of literary men, — the latter being especially courted by Madame Bernard. But, though seemingly given up to a life of gayety and pleasure, she did not neglect her own interests. Her cleverness was of the Becky-Sharp order. She knew how to turn the admiration she excited to her own advantage. Having a faculty for business, she engaged in successful speculations and amassed a fortune, which she carried safely through the Reign of Terror. This is the more remarkable as Monsieur Bernard was a known Royalist. He and his family and his wife’s friends escaped not only death, but also persecution; and Madame Lenormant attributes this rare good-fortune to the agency of the infamous Barrère. Barrère’s cruelty was equalled only by his profligacy, his cunning by his selfishness. Macaulay said of him, that “ he approached nearer than any person mentioned in history or fiction, whether man or devil, to the idea of consummate and total depravity”; and everybody must remember the famous comparison by which he illustrated Barrère’s faculty of lying. But even taking a much milder view of Barrère’s character, it is a matter of history by what terms the unfortunate victims of the Revolution purchased of him their own lives and. those of their friends, and it is certain that his friendship and protection were no honor to any wonidn. Tins view ot their intimacy is confirmed by Madame Mold. In speaking of a rumor current in Madame Recamier’s lifetime, which reflected severely upon her mother, she says that Madame Bernard’s reputation had nothing to lose by this story, and mentions the favors she received at the hands both of Calonne and Barrère.

Juliette Bernard was ten years old when she joined her parents in Paris, where she was placed under the care of masters. She played with skill on the harp and piano, and being passionately fond of music, it became her solace and amusement at an advanced age. In her youth dancing was equally a passion with her. The grace with which she executed the shawl-dance suggested to Madame de Staël the dance-scene in “ Corinne.” It is said that great care was bestowed upon her education; but as it is also stated that long hours were passed at the toilette, that she was the pet of all her mother’s friends, who, as proud of her daughter’s beauty as she was of her own, took her constantly to the theatre and public assemblies, little time could have been devoted to systematic instruction. There is no mention made throughout her life of any favorite studies or favorite books, and she was, moreover, married at fifteen.

Monsieur Récamier was forty-four years old when he proposed for the hand of Juliette Bernard. She accepted him without either reluctance or distrust. Much sympathy has been lavished upon Madame Récamier on account of this marriage, and her extreme youth is urged as an excuse for this false step of her life. Still she did not take it blindly. Her mother thought it her duty to lay before her all the objections to a union where there existed such a disparity of age. No undue influence was exerted, therefore, in favor of the marriage. Nor was Mademoiselle Bernard as unsophisticated as French girls usually are at that age. Her childhood had not been passed in seclusion. Since she was ten years old she had been constantly in the society of men of letters and men of the world. Under such influences girls ripen early, and in marrying Monsieur Récamier she at least realized all her expectations. She did not look for mutual affection ; she expected to find in him a generous and indulgent protector, and this anticipation was not disappointed. If she discovered too late that she had other and greater needs, she was deeply to be pitied, but the responsibility of the step must remain with her. Madame Lenormant says of the union, — “ It was simply an apparent one. Madame Récamier was a wife only in name. This fact is astonishing. But I am not bound to explain it, only to attest its truth, which all of Madame Récamier’s friends can confirm. Monsieur Récamier’s relations to his wife were strictly of a paternal character. He treated the young and innocent child who bore his name as a daughter whose beauty charmed him and whose celebrity flattered his vanity.”

As an explanation of these singular relations, Madame Möhl states that it was the general belief of Madame Récamier s contemporaries that she was the own daughter of Monsieur Récamier, whom the unsettled state of the times had induced him to marry ; but there is not a shadow of evidence in support of this hypothesis, — though, to make it more probable, Madame Möhl adds, that “Madame Lenormant rather confirms than contradicts this rumor.” In this she is strangely mistaken. Madame Lenormant does not allude to the report at all. Still she tacitly contradicts it. Her account of Monsieur Récamier’s course with regard to the divorce proposed between him and his wife is of itself a sufiicient refutation of this idle story.

Monsieur Récamier was a tall, vigorous, handsome man, of easy, agreeable manners. Perfectly polite, he was deficient in dignity, and preferred the society of his inferiors to that of his equals. He wrote and spoke Spanish with fluency, had some knowledge of Latin, and was fond of quoting Horace and Virgil. “It would be difficult to find,” says his niece, “ a heart more generous than his, more easily moved, and yet more volatile. Let a friend need his time, his money", his advice, it was immediately at his service ; but let that same friend be taken away by death, he would scarcely give two days to regret: ‘ Encore un tiroir fermé,’ he would say", and there would end his sensibility. Always ready to give and willing to serve, he was a good companion, and benevolent and gay in his temper. He carried his optimism to excess, and was always content with everybody and everything. He had fine natural abilities, and the gift of expression, being a good story-teller.” He was married in 1793, the most gloomy period of the Reign of Terror, and went every day to see the executions, wishing, he said, to familiarize himself with the fate he had every reason to fear would be his own.

The first four years of her marriage were passed by Madame Récamier in retirement, but when the government was settled under the Consulate she mingled freely and gayly in society. This was probably the happiest period of her life. Her husband was at the height of financial prosperity, and lavished every luxury upon his beautiful wife. Both their country-seat at Clichy and their townhouse in the Rue Mont Blanc were models of elegant taste. Large dinner-parties and balls were given at the latter, but all the intimate friends went to Clichy, where Madame Récamier chiefly resided with her mother. Her husband only dined there, driving in to Paris every night. She was very fond of flowers, and filled her rooms with them. At that time floral decorations were a novelty, and another attraction was added to the charms of Clichy. Not only there, but in society, Madame Récamier reigned a queen. She had been pronounced by acclamation “the most beautiful,” and she enjoyed her triumphs with all the gayety and freshness of youth. Madame Lenormant asserts that she was unconscious of her beauty, and yet, with an amusing inconsistency, she adds that Madame Récamier always dressed in white and wore pearls in preference to other jewels, that the dazzling whiteness of her skin might eclipse their softness and purity. It was, in fact, impossible to be unconscious of a beauty so ravishing that it intoxicated all beholders. At the theatre, at the promenade, at public assemblies, she was followed by admiring throngs.

“ She was sensible,” writes one who knew her well, “ of every look, every word of admiration,—the exclamation of a child or a woman of the people, equally with the declaration of a prince. In crowds from the side of her elegant carriage, which advanced slowly, she thanked each for his admiration by a motion of the head and a smile.”

As an instance of the effect she produced, Madame Lenormant gives the testimony of a contemporary, Madame Regnauld de Saint-Jean d’Angely, who, talking over her own beauty and that of other women of her youth, named Madame Récamier. “Others,” she said, “were more truly beautiful, but none produced so much effect. I was in a drawingroom where I charmed and captivated all eyes. Madame Récamier entered. The brilliancy of her eyes, which were not, however, very large, the inconceivable whiteness of her shoulders, crushed and eclipsed everybody. She was resplendent. At the end of a moment, however, the true amateurs returned to me.”

It was not her own countrymen alone who raved about her beauty. The sober-minded English people were quite as much impressed. When she visited England during the short peace of Amiens, she created intense excitement. The journals recorded her movements, and on one occasion in Kensington Gardens the crowd was so great that she narrowly escaped being crushed. At the Opera she was obliged to steal away early to avoid a similar annoyance, and then barely succeeded in reaching her carriage. Châteaubriand tells us that her portrait, engraved by Bartolozzi, and spread throughout England, was carried thence to the isles of Greece. Ballanche, remarking on this circumstance, said that it was “ beauty returning to the land of its birth.”

Years after, when the allied sovereigns were in Paris, and Madame Récamier thirty-eight years old, the effect of her beauty was just as striking. Madame de Krüdener, celebrated for her mysticism and the power she exerted over the Emperor Alexander, then held nightly reunions, beginning with prayer and ending in a more worldly fashion. Madame Recamier’s entrance always caused distraction, and Madame de Kriidener commissioned Benjamin Constant to write and beseech her to be less charming. As this piquant note will lose its flavor by translation, we give it in the original.

“ Je m’acquitte avec un peu d’embarras d’une commission que Mme. de Krüner vient de me donner. Elle vous supplie de venir la moins belle que vous pourrez. Elle dit que vous éblouissez tout le monde, et que par Ih toutes les âmes sont troublées, et toutes les attentions impossibles. Vous ne pouvez pas déposer votre charme, mais ne le rehaussez pas.”

Madame Récamier’s personal appearance at eighteen is thus described by her niece : —

“ A figure flexible and elegant; neck and shoulders admirably formed and proportioned ; a well-poised head ; a small, rosy mouth, pearly teeth, charming arms, though a little small, and black hair that curled naturally. A nose delicate and regular,but bien français, and an incomparable brilliancy of complexion. A countenance full of candor, and sometimes beaming with mischief, which the expression of goodness rendered irresistibly lovely. There was a shade of indolence and pride in her gestures, and what Saint Simon said of the Duchess of Burgundy is equally applicable to her: “ Her step was that of a goddess on the clouds.’”

Madame Récamier retained her beauty longer than is usual even with Frenchwomen, nor did she seek to repair it by any artificial means. “ She did not struggle,” says Sainte-Beuve, “ she resigned herself gracefully to the first touch of Time. She understood, that, for one who had enjoyed such success as a beauty, to seem yet beautiful was to make no pretensions. A friend who had not seen her for many years complimented her upon her looks. ' Ah, my dear friend,’ she replied, ' it is useless for me to deceive myself. From the moment I noticed that the little Savoyards in the street no longer turned to look at me, I comprehended that all ivas over.”’ There is pathos in this simple acknowledgment, this quiet renunciation. Was it the result of secret, struggles which taught her that all regret was vain, and that to contrast the present with the past was but a useless and torturing thing for a woman ?

But at the time of which we write Madame Récamier had no sad realities to ponder. Site was surrounded by admirers, with the liberty which French society accords to married women, and the freedom of heart of a young girl. She was still content to lie simply admired. She understood neither the world nor her own heart. Her life was too gay for reflection, nor had the time arrived for it: “ all analysis comes late.” It is not until we have in a measure ceased to be actors, and have accepted the more passive rôle of spectators, that we begin to reflect upon ourselves and upon life. And Madame Récamier had not tired of herself, or of the world. She was too young to be heart-weary, and she knew nothing yet of the burdens and perplexities of life. All her wishes were gratified before they were fairly expressed, and she had neither anxieties nor cares.

Her first Vexation came with her first lover. It was in the spring of 1799 that Madame Récamier met Lucien Bonaparte at a dinner. He was then twenty-four, and she twenty-two. He asked permission to visit her at Clichy, and made his appearance there the next day. He first wrote to her, declaring his love, under the name of Romeo, and she, taking advantage of the subterfuge, returned his letter in the presence of other friends, with a compliment on its cleverness, while she advised him not to waste his ability on works of imagination, when it could be so much better employed in politics. Lucien was not thus to be repulsed. He then addressed her in his own name, and she showed the letters to her husband, and asked his advice. Monsieur Récamier was more politic than indignant. His wife wished to forbid Lucien the house, but he feared that such extreme measures toward the brother of the First Consul might compromise, if not ruin, his bank. He therefore advised her neither to encourage nor repulse him. Lucien continued his attentions for a year, — the absurd emphasis of his manners at times amusing Madame Récamier, while at others his violence excited her fears. At last, becoming conscious that he was making himself ridiculous, he gave up the pursuit in despair. Some time after he had discontinued his visits he sent a friend to demand his letters; but Madame Récamier refused to give them up. He sent a second time, adding menace to persuasion ; but she was firm in her refusal. It was rumored that Lucien was a favored lover, and he was anxious to be so considered. His own letters were the strongest proof to the contrary, and as such they were kept and guarded by Madame Récamier. But the unpleasant gossip to which his attentions gave rise was a source of great annoyance to her. If it was her first vexation, it was not the only one of the same kind. Madame Lenormant makes no allusion to any other, but in the lately published correspondence of Madame (Ie Stael 3 we find among the letters to Madame Récamier one which consoles her under what was probably a somewhat similar trouble. “ I hear from Monsieur Hochet that you have a chagrin. I hope by the time you have read this letter it will have passed away. . . . There is nothing to dread but truth and material persecution ; beyond these two things enemies can do absolutely nothing. And what an enemy ! only a contemptible woman who is jealous of your beauty and purity united.”

It was at a fête given by Lucien that Madame Hecamier had her first and only interview with the First Consul. On entering the drawing-room, she mistook him for his brother Joseph, and bowed to him. He returned her salutation with empressement mingled with surprise. Looking at her closely, he spoke to Fouché, who leaned over her chair and whispered, “ The First Consul finds you charming.” When Lucien approached, Napoleon, who was no stranger to his brother’s passion, said aloud, “ And I, too, would like to go to Clichy ! ” When dinner was announced, he rose and left the room alone, without offering his arm to any lady. As Madame Récamier passed out, Eliza (Madame Baccidcchi), who did the honors in the absence of Madame Lucien, who was indisposed, requested her to take the seat next to the First Consul. Madame Récamier did not understand her, and seated herself at a little distance, and on Cambacères, the Second Consul, occupying the seat by her side, Napoleon exclaimed, “Ah, ah, citoyen consul, auprés de la plus belle ! ” He ate very little and very fast, and at the end of half an hour left the table abruptly, and returned to the drawing-room. He afterward asked Madame Récamier why she had not sat next to him at dinner. “ I should not have presumed,” she said. “ It was your place,” he replied; and his sister added, “ That was what I said to you before dinner.” A concert following, Napoleon stood alone by the piano, but, not fancying the instrumental part of the performance, at the end of a piece by Jadin, he struck on the piano and cried,

“ Garat 1 Garat! ” who then sang a scene from “ Orphens.” Music always profoundly moved Madame Récamier, but whenever she raised her eyes she found those of the Consul fixed upon her with so much intensity that she became uncomfortable. After the concert, he came to her and said, “ You are very fond of music, Madame,” and would probably have continued the conversation, had not Lucien interrupted. Madame Récamier confessed that she was prepossessed by Napoleon at this interview. She was evidently gratified by his attentions, scanty and slight as they seem to us. Indeed, his whole conduct during the dinner and concert was decidedly discourteous, it not positively rude. Madame Lenormant attributes Napoleon’s subsequent attempt to attach Madame Recamier to his court to the strong impression she made upon him at this interview, and gives Fouché as her authority. Still, if this were the case, it is rather strange that Napoleon did not follow up the acquaintance more speedily. It was not until five years afterwards that he made the overtures to which Madame Lenormant refers, — and then Madame Récamier had long been in the ranks of the Opposition. It was Napoleon’s policy to conciliate, if possible, his political opponents. He had succeeded in gaining over Bernadotte, of whose intrigues against him Madame Récamier had been the confidante, and he concluded that she also could be as easily won. He accordingly sent Fouché to her, who, after several preliminary visits, proposed that she should apply for a position at court. As Madame Récamier did not heed his suggestions, he spoke more openly. “ He protested that the place would give her entire liberty, and then, seizing with finesse upon the inducements most powerful with a generous spirit, he dwelt upon the eminent services she might render to the oppressed of all classes, and also the good influence so attractive a woman Would exert over the mind of the Emperor. ‘ He has not yet,’ he added, ‘ found a woman worthy of him, and no one knows what the love of Napoleon would be, if he attached himself to a pure person, — assuredly she would obtain a power over him which would be entirely beneficent.’ ” If Madame Récamier listened with politic calmness to these disgraceful overtures, she gave Fouché no encouragement. But he was not easily discouraged. He planned another interview with her at the house of the Princess Caroline, who added her persuasions to his. The conversation turning on Talma, who was then performing at the French theatre, the Princess put her box, which was opposite the Emperor’s, at Madame Récamier’s disposal; she used it twice, and each time the Emperor was present, and kept his glass so constantly in her direction that it was generally remarked, and it was reported that she was on the eve of high favor. Upon further persistence on the part of Fouché, Madame Récamier gave him a decided refusal. He was vehemently indignant, and left Clichy never to return thither. In the St. Helena Memorial, Napoleon attributes Madame Récamier s rejection of his overtures to personal resentment on account of her father. In 1800 Monsieur Bernard had been appointed Administrateur des Postes ; being implicated in a Royalist conspiracy, he was imprisoned, but finally set at liberty through the intercession of Bernadotte. Napoleon believed that Madame Récamier resented her father’s removal from office, but she was too thankful at his release from prison to expect any further favors. Her dislike of the Emperor was caused by his treatment of her friends, more particularly of the one dearest to her, Madame de Staël.

The friendship between these women was highly honorable to both, though the sacrifices were chiefly on Madame Récamier’s side. She espoused Madame de Staël’s cause with zeal and earnestness ; and when the latter was banished forty leagues from Paris, she found an asylum with her. Among the few fragments of autobiography preserved by Madame Lenormant is this account of the first interview between the friends.

“ One day, which I count an epoch in my life, Monsieur Récamier arrived at Clichy with a lady whom he did not introduce, but whom he left alone with me while he joined some other persons in the park. This lady came about the sale and purchase of a house. Her dress was peculiar. She wore a morning-robe, and a little dress-hat decorated with flowers. I took her for a foreigner, and was struck with the beauty of her eyes and of her expression. I cannot analyze my sensations, but it is certain I was more occupied in divining who she was than in paying her the usual courtesies, when she said to me, with a lively and penetrating grace, that she was truly enchanted to know me ; that her father, Monsieur Necker .... At these words, I recognized Madame de Staël! I did not hear the rest of her sentence. I blushed. My embarrassment was extreme. I had just read with enthusiasm her letters on Rousseau, and I expressed what I felt more by my looks than by my words. She intimidated and attracted me at the same time. I saw at once that she was a perfectly natural person, of a superior nature. She, on her side, fixed upon me her great black eyes, but with a curiosity full of benevolence, and paid me compliments which would have seemed too exaggerated, had they not appeared to escape her, thus giving to her words an irresistible seduction. My embarrassment did me no injury. She understood it, and expressed a wish to see more of me on her return to Paris, as she was then on the eve of starting for Coppet. She was at that time only an apparition in my life, but the impression was a lively one. I thought only of Madame de Staël, I was so much affected by her strong and ardent nature.”

The sweet serenity of Madame Récamier’s nature soothed the more restless and tumultuous spirit of her friend. The unaffected veneration, too, of one so beautiful touched and gratified the woman of genius. Still, this intimacy was not unmixed with bitterness for Madame de Staël. But it troubled only her own heart, not the common friendship. She continually contrasted Madame Récamier’s beauty with her own plain appearance, her friend’s power of fascination with her own lesser faculty of interesting, and she repeatedly declared that Madame Récanrier was the most enviable of human beings. But in comparing the lives of the two, as they now appear to us, Madame de Staël seems the more fortunate. If her married life was uncongenial, she had children to love and cherish, to whom she was fondly attached. Madame Recamier was far more isolated. Years had made her entirely independent of her husband, and she had no children upon whom to lavish the wealth of her affection. Her mother’s death left her comparatively alone in the world, for she had neither brother nor sister, and her father seems to have had but little hold on her heart, all her love being lavished on her mother. She had a host of friends, it is true, but the closest friendship is hut a poor substitute for the natural ties of affection. Both these women sighed for what they had not. The one yearned for love, the other for the liberty of loving. Madame Récamier was dependent for her enjoyments on society, while Madame de Staël had rich and manifold resources within herself, which no caprice of friends could materially affect, and no reverse of fortune impair. Her poetic imagination and creative thought were inexhaustible treasures. Solitude could never be irksome to her. Her genius brought with it an inestimable blessing. It gave her a purpose in life, — consequently she was never in want of occupation ; and if at intervals she bitterly felt that heart-loneliness which Mrs. Browning has so touchingly expressed in verse,—

“ ‘My father!’ — thou hast knowledge, only thou!
How dreary’t is for women to sit still
On winter nights by solitary fires,
And hear the nations praising them far off,
Too far! ay, praising our quick sense of love,
Our very heart of passionate womanhood,
Which could not beat so in the verse without
Being present also in the unkissed lips,
And eyes undried because there ’s none to ask
The reason they grew moist,” —

in the excitement and ardor of composition such feelings slumbered, while in the honest and pure satisfaction of work well done they were for the time extinguished. Madame Récamier, though beautiful and beloved, had no such precious compensations. She depended for her happiness upon her friends, and they who rely upon others for their chief enjoyments must meet with bitter and deep disappointments. Madame Récamier had great triumphs which secured to her moments of rapture. When the crowd worshipped her beauty, she probably experienced the same delirium of joy, the same momentary exultation, that a prima donna feels when called before an excited and enthusiastic audience. But satiety and chagrin surely follow such triumphs, and she lived to feel their hollowness.

In a letter to her adopted daughter, she says, — “I hope you will be more happy than I have been ” ; and she confessed to Sainte-Beuve, that more than once in her most brilliant days, in the midst of fêtes where she reigned a queen, she disengaged herself from the crowd surrounding her and retired to weep in solitude. Surely so sad a woman was not to be envied.

Another friend of Madame Récamier’s youth, whose friendship in a marked degree influenced her life, was Matthieu de Montmorency. He was seventeen years older than she, and may with emphasis be termed her best friend. A devout Roman Catholic, he awakened and strengthened her religious convictions, and constantly warned her of the perils surrounding her. Much as he evidently admired and loved her, he did not hesitate to utter unwelcome truths. Vicomte, afterward Duc de Montmorency, belonged to one of the oldest families of France, but, espousing the Revolutionary cause, he was the first to propose the abolition of the privileges of the nobility. He was married early in life to a woman without beauty, to whom he was profoundly indifferent, and soon separated from her, though from family motives the tie was renewed in after-years. In his youth he had been gay and dissipated; but the death of a favorite brother, who fell a victim to the Revolution, changed and sobered him. From an over-sensibility, he believed himself to be the cause of his brother’s death on account of the part he had taken in hastening the Revolution, and he strove to atone for this mistake, its well as for his youthful follies, by a life of austerity and piety. While his letters testify his great affection for Madame Récamier, they are entirely free from those lover-like protestations and declarations of eternal fidelity so characteristic of her other masculine correspondents. He always addressed her as “ amiable amie,” and his nearest approach to gallantry is the expression of a hope that “ in prayer their thoughts had often mingled, and might continue so to do.” He ends a long letter of religious counsel with this grave warning: —“ Do what is good and amiable, what will not rend the heart or leave any regrets behind. But in the name of God renounce all that is unworthy of you, and which under no circumstances can ever render you happy.”

Adrien de Montmorency, Duke of Laval, if not so near and dear a friend, was quite as devoted an admirer of Madame Récamier as his cousin Matthieu. His son also wore her chains, and frequently marred the pleasure of his father’s visits by his presence. In reference to the family’s devotion, Adrien wrote to her, — “My son is fascinated by you, and you know that I am so also. It is the late of the Montmorencys,—

“ ‘ I Is ne mouraient pas tous, mais tout étaient frappés.’ ”

Adrien was a man of wit, and he had more ability than Matthieu. “ Of all your admirers,” writes Madame de Staël, in a letter given in Châteaubriand’s Memoirs, “ you know that I prefer Adrien de Montmorency. I have just received one of his letters, which is remarkable for wit and grace, and I believe in the durability of his affections, notwithstanding the charm of his manners. Besides, this word durability is becoming in me, who have but a secondary place in his heart. But you are the heroine of all those sentiments out of which grow tragedies and romances.”

Other admirers succeeded the Montmorencys. The masked balls, fashionable under the Empire, were occasions for fresh conquests. Madame Récamier attended them regularly under the protection of an elder brother of her husband, and had many piquant adventures. Prince Metternich was devoted to her one season, and when Lent put an end to festivity, he visited her privately in the morning, that he might not incur the Emperor’s displeasure. Napoleon’s animosity had now become marked and positive. On one occasion, when three of his ministers met accidentally at her house, he heard of it, and asked petulantly how long since had the council been held at Madame Récamier’s ? He was especially jealous of foreign ministers, and treated with so much haughtiness any who frequented her salon, that, as a matter of prudence, they saw her only in society or visited her by stealth. The Duke of Mecklenburg, whom she met at one of the masked balls, was extremely anxious to keep up her acquaintance. She declined the honor, alleging the Emperor’s jealousy as reason for her refusal. He persuaded her, however, to grant him an interview, and she appointed an evening when she did not generally receive visitors. Stealing into the house in an undignified manner, the Duke was collared by the concierge, who mistook him for a thief. This ill-fortune did not deter him, however, from visiting her frequently. Years after, he wrote,— “ Among the precious souvenirs which I owe to you is one I particularly cherish. It is the eminently noble and generous course you pursued toward me, when Napoleon had said openly, in the salon of the Empress Josephine, that he ‘ should regard as his personal enemy any foreigner who frequented the salon of Madame Récamier.’ ”

Madame Récamier was to feel yet more severely the effects of the Emperor’s displeasure. In the autumn of 1806 the banking-house of Monsieur Récamier became embarrassed, through financial disorders in Spain. Their difficulties would have been temporary, had the Bank of France granted them a loan on good security. This favor was refused, and the house failed. While the decision ot the bank was yet uncertain, Monsieur Récamier confided to his wife the desperate state of his affairs, and deputed her to do, the next day, the honors of a large dinner-party, which could not be postponed, lest suspicion should be excited. Ho went into the country, completely overwhelmed, and awaited there the result of his application. Madame Récamier forced herself to appear as usual. No one suspected the agony of her mind. She afterwards said that she felt the whole evening as though she were a prey to some horrible nightmare. In contrasting the conduct of the husband and wife, Madame Lenormant is scarcely just to the former. Acutely as Madame Récamier dreaded the impending ruin, it could not be to her what it was to her husband. A fearful responsibility rested upon him. The failure of his house was not only disaster and possible dishonor, but the ruin of thousands who had confided in him. A strong intellect might well be bowed down under the apprehension of such a catastrophe. Women, too, are proverbially calmer in such emergencies than men. To them it simply means sacrifice, but to men it is infinitely more than that.

When the blow fell, Monsieur Récamier met it manfully. He gave up everything to his creditors, who had so much confidence in his integrity that they put him at the head of the settlement of liquidation. Madame Récamier was equally honorable. She sold all her jewels. They disposed of their plate, and offered the house in the Rue Mont Blanc for sale. As a purchaser could not immediately be found, they removed to the ground-floor and let the other stories. This reverse of fortune involved more than personal sacrifices. Madame Récamier was both generous and charitable, and had dispensed her benefits with an open hand. She had, with the aid of friends, founded a school for orphans, and had numerous claims upon her bounty. To be restricted in her charities must have been a sore trial. Further mortifications she was spared, for she was treated with greater deference than ever. Her friends redoubled their attentions, her door was besieged by callers, who vied with each other in showing sympathy and respect. Junot was one of her firmest friends at this crisis. Witnessing, in Paris, the attentions she received, he spoke of them to the Emperor, when he rejoined him in Germany. He was checked by Napoleon, who pettishly remarked that they could not have paid more homage to the widow of a marshal of France fallen on the field of battle.

Junot was not the only general of the Emperor who was concerned at her reverse. of fortune. Bernadotte, whom Saiute-Beuve numbers among her lovers, and whose letters confirm this idea, wrote to her from Germany, expressing his sympathy. Madame de Staël was sensibly afflicted. “ Dear Juliette,” she writes, “ we have enjoyed the luxury which surrounded you. Tour fortune has been ours, and I feel ruined because you are no longer rich.”

Another anxiety now weighed heavily upon Madame Récamier. Her mother’s health had long been failing, and the misfortunes of her son-in-law were more than her shattered constitution could bear. She died six months after the failure, leaving her fortune to her daughter, though her husband was still living. To the last she was devoted to dress and society. Throughout her illness she insisted upon being becomingly dressed every day, and supported to a couch, where she received her friends for several hours.

After Madame Bernard’s death, her daughter passed six months in retirement, hut, her grief affecting her health, she was induced by Madame de Staël to visit her at Coppet. Here she met the exiled Prince Augustus of Prussia, nephew of Frederick the Great. We find in the “ Seaforth Papers,” lately published in England, an allusion to this Prince, who visited London in the train of the allied sovereigns in 1814. A lady writes, “ All the ladies are desperately in love with him, — his eyes are so fine, his moustaches so black, and bis teeth so white.” Madame Lenormant describes him as extremely handsome, brave, chivalric, and loyal. He was twenty-four when he fell passionately in love with Madame de Staël’s beautiful guest, to whom he at once proposed a divorce and marriage. We give Madame Lenormant’s account of his attachment.

“ Three months passed in the enchantments of a passion by which Madame Récamier was profoundly touched, if she did not share it. Everything conspired to favor Prince Augustus. The Imagination of Madame de Staël, easily seduced by anything poetical and singular, made her an eloquent auxiliary of the Prince. The place itself, those beautiful shores of Lake Geneva, peopled by romantic phantoms, had a tendency to bewilder the judgment. Madame Récamier was moved. For a moment she welcomed an offer of marriage which was not only a proof of the passion, but of the esteem of a prince of a royal house, deeply impressed by the weight of its own prerogatives and the greatness of its rank. Vows were exchanged. The tie which united the beautiful Juliette to Monsieur Récamier was one which the Catholic Church itself proclaimed null. Yielding to the sentiment with which she inspired the Prince, Juliette wrote to Monsieur Récamier, requesting the rupture of their union. He replied that he would consent to a divorce, if it was her wish, but he made an appeal to her feelings. He recalled the affection he had shown her from childhood. He even expressed regret at having respected her susceptibilities and repugnances, thus preventing a closer bond of union, which would have made all thoughts of a separation impossible. Finally he requested, that, if Madame Recamier persisted in her project, the divorce should not take place in Paris, but out of France, where he would join her to arrange matters.

This letter had the desired effect. Madame Récamier concluded not to abandon her husband, and returned to Paris, but without undeceiving the Prince, who started for Berlin. According to her biographer, Madame Récamier trusted that absence would soften the disappointment she had in store for him; but, if this was the case, the means she took to accomplish it were very inadequate. She sent him her portrait soon after her return to Paris, which the Prince acknowledged in a letter, of which the following is an extract : —

April 24th, 1808.

“I hope that my letter of the 31 st has already been received. I could only very feebly express to you the happiness I felt on the receipt, of your last, but it will give you some idea of my sensations when reading it, and in receiving your portrait. For whole hours I looked at this enchanting picture, dreaming of a happiness which must surpass the most delicious reveries of imagination. What fate can be compared to that of the man whom you love ? ”

When Madame Récamier subsequently wrote to him more candidly, the Prince was astonished. “ Your letter was a thunderbolt,” he replied; but he would not accept her decision, and claimed the right of seeing her again. Three years passed in uncertainty, and in 1811 Madame Récamier consented to meet him at Schaffhausen; but she did not fulfil her engagement, giving the sentence of exile which had just been passed upon her as an excuse. The Prince, after waiting in vain, wrote indignantly to Madame de Staël, “ I hope I am now cured of a foolish love, which I have nourished for four years.” But when the news of her exile reached him, he wrote to her expressing his sympathy, but at the same time reproaching her for her breach of faith. “ After four years of absence I hoped to see you again, and this exile seemed to furnish you with a pretext for coming to Switzerland. But you have cruelly deceived me. I cannot conceive, if you could not or would not see me, why you did not condescend to tell me so, and I might have been spared a useless journey of three hundred leagues.”

Madame Récamier’s conduct to the Prince, even viewed in the light of her biographer’s representations, is scarcely justifiable. Madame Möhl attempts to defend her. She alleges, that, at the time Prince Augustus was paying his addresses to her, he had contracted a left-handed marriage at Berlin. Even if this story be true, there is no evidence that Madame Récamier was then acquainted with the fact, and if she had been, there was only the more reason for breaking with the Prince at once, instead of keeping him so long alternating between hope and despair. In speaking of him to Madame Möhl, Madame Récamier said that he was desperately in love, but he was very gallant and had many other fancies. The impression she made upon him, however, seems to have been lasting. Three months before his death, in 1845, he wrote to her that the ring she had given him should follow him to the tomb, and her portrait, painted by Gérard, was, at his death, returned to her by his orders. Either the Prince had two portraits of Madame Récamier, or else Madame Lenormant’s statements are contradictory. She says that her aunt sent him her portrait soon after her return to Paris, and the date of the Prince’s letter acknowledging the favor confirms this statement. It is afterward assorted that Madame Récamier gave him her portrait in exchange for one of Madame de Staël, painted by Gerard, as Corinne.

The next important event in Madame Récamier’s life is her exile, caused by a visit she paid Madame de Staël when the surveillance exercised over the latter by the government had become more rigorous. Montmorency had been already exiled for the same offence. But, disregarding this warning, Madame Récamier persisted in going to Coppet, and though she only remained one night there, she was exiled forty leagues from Paris.

She bore her exile with dignity. She would not solicit a recall, and she forbade those of her friends, who, like Junot, were on familiar terms with the Emperor, to mention her name in his presence. She doubtless felt all its deprivations, even more keenly than Madame de Staël, though she made no complaints. Her means were narrow, as she does not appear to have been in the full possession of her mother’s fortune until after the Restoration. She had lived, with scarcely an interruption, a life of society ; now she was thrown on her own resources, with little except music to cheer and enliven her. It was not only the loss of Paris that exiles under the Empire had to endure. They were subjected to an annoying surveillance by the police, and even the friends who paid them any attention became objects of suspicion.

The first eight months of her exile Madame Récamier passed at Chalons. She had for companionship a little niece of her husband’s, whom she had previously adopted. At the suggestion of Madame de Staël, she removed to Lyons, where Monsieur Récanfier had many influential relatives. Here she formed an intimacy with a companion in misfortune, the high-spirited Duchess of Chevreuse, whose proud refusal to enter into the service of the captive Spanish Queen was the cause of her exile. “ I can be a prisoner,” she replied, when the offer was made to her, “ but I will never be a jailer.”

Though the society of friends offered Madame Récamier many diversions, she was often a prey to melancholy. The Duchess D’Abrantes, who saw her here, casually mentions her dejection in her Memoirs, and Châteaubriand says that the separation from Madame de Staël weighed heavily upon her spirits. He also alludes to a coolness between the friends, caused by Madame de Staël’s marriage with Monsieur de Rocca. The desire to keep this connection secret induced Madame de Staël to write to her friend, declining a proposed visit from her, on the plea that she was about to leave Switzerland. Châteaubriand asserts that Madame Récamier felt this slight severely, but Madame Lenormant makes uo allusiou to the circumstance.

At Lyons Madame Récamier met the author, Monsieur Ballanche. He was presented to her by Camille Jordan, and, in the words of her biographer. “ from that moment Monsieur Ballauehe belonged to Madame Récamier.” He was the least exacting of any of her friends. All he asked was to devote his life to her, and to be allowed to worship her. His friends called her his Beatrice. As he was an extremely awkward and ugly man, the two might have been termed with equal propriety “ Beauty and the Beast.” Monsieur Ballanche’s face had been frightfully disfigured by an operation, and though his friends thought that his fine eyes and expression redeemed his appearance, he was, to strangers, particularly unprepossessing. He was, moreover, very absent-minded. When lie joined Madame Récanfier at Rome, she noticed, during an evening walk with him, that he had no hat. In reply to her questions, he quietly said, “ Oh, yes, he had left it at Alexandria.” He had, in fact, forgotten it; and it never occurred to him to replace it by another. Madame Lenormant relates an anecdote of his second interview with Madame Récamier, which is illustrative of his simplicity.

“ He found her alone, working on embroidery. The conversation at first languished, but soon became interesting,— for, though Monsieur Ballanche had no chit-chat, he talked extremely well on subjects which interested him, such as philosophy, morals, politics, and literature. Unfortunately, his shoes had an odor about them which was very disagreeable to Madame Récamier. It finally made her faint, and, overcoming with difficulty the embarrassment she felt in speaking of so prosaic an annoyance, she timidly avowed to him that the smell of his shoes was unpleasant. Monsieur Ballanche apologized, humbly regretting that she had not spoken before, and then went out of the room. He returned in a few moments without his shoes, resumed his seat, and continued the conversation. Other persons came in, and noticing him in this situation, he said, by way of explanation, ' The smell of my shoes annoyed Madame Récamier, so 1 left them in the antechamber.’ ”

After the death of his father, Monsieur Ballanche left Lyons, and passed the rest of his life in the society of her whom he worshipped with so single-minded a devotion.

Madame Récamier subsequently left Lyons for Italy, and the next new admirer whose attentions we have to chronicle is Canova. During her stay in Rome he wrote a note to her every morning, and the heat of the city growing excessive, he invited her to share his lodgings at Albano. Taking with her her niece and waiting-maid, she became his guest for two months. A Roman artist painted a picture of this retreat, with Madame Récamier sitting near a window, reading. Canova sent the picture to her in 1816. When she left Rome for a short absence, Canova modelled two busts of her from memory, in the hope of giving her a pleasant surprise,— one with the hair simply arranged, the other with a veil. Madame Récamier was not pleased, and her annoyance did not escape the penetrating eye of the artist. She tried in vain to efface the unfavorable impression he had received, but he only half forgave her. He added a crown of olives to the one with the veil, and when she asked him about it, he replied, “ It did not please you, so I made a Beatrice of it.”

Madame Récamier left Rome for Naples when Napoleon’s power was on the decline. The sovereigns Murat and Caroline Bonaparte treated her with marked distinction, especially the Queen, who was not only gracious, but confidential. Madame Récamier was with Caroline the day that Murat pledged himself to the allied cause. He returned to the palace in great agitation, and, stating the ease to her without telling her that he had already made his decision, asked what course he ought to pursue. She replied, “ You are a Frenchman, Sire. It is to France that you owe allegiance.” Murat turned pale, and, throwing open the window, showed her the English fleet entering the harbor, and exclaimed, “ I am, then, a traitor ! ” He threw himself on a couch, burst into tears, covering his face with his hands. Madame Récamier’s candor did not affect their friendly relations. When the Queen acted as Régent in the absence of her husband, she signed the pardon of a condemned criminal at her request, and, upon her return to Rome, wrote, begging her to come back to Naples. She did so, though her stay was necessarily short. Paris was again open to her by the overthrow of Napoleon, and she hastened to rejoin her friends. Still she was not unmindful of the princess who had shown her such marks of friendship. She did many kind services for her in Paris, and after the execution of Murat, when Caroline lived in obscurity as the Countess of Lipona, she paid her a visit, which cheered the neglected woman whose prosperity had been of such short duration.

The Restoration was the beginning of a new era in the life of Madame Récamier, one even more brilliant and animated, if not so thoughtlessly gay as that of her youth. Her husband had, in a measure, retrieved his fallen fortunes. She was in possession of her mother’s property, able to have a box at the Opera, and to keep her carriage, which was a necessity, as she never walked in the street. Her exile had made her more famous, while her joy at being restored to Paris and her friends lent another charm to the seduction of her manners. Her association with the Montmorencys, who were in high favor with the new court, increased her political influence. She held nightly receptions after the Opera, and her salon was neutral ground, the resort of persons of all parties. Paris was full of foreigners of distinction, who were curious to know a person of so ranch celebrity, and they swelled the ranks of her admirers. Among them was the Duke of Wellington, who, if Madame Récamier’s vanity did not mislead her, was willing and anxious to wear her chains. But she never forgave his boastful speech after the Battle of Waterloo. Remembering her personal dislike of the Emperor, and forgetting that she was a Frenchwoman, he said to her, on his return to Paris, “ Je l’at bien battu.” The next time he called he was not admitted. The Duke complained to Madame de Staël, and when he next met Madame Récamier in society treated her with coldness, and devoted himself to a young English lady. They rarely met afterward, though the Duke came once to the Abbaye-aux-Bois.

Madame Récamier had at this time a much more earnest admirer in Benjamin Constant. As common friends of Madame de Staël, they had been acquainted for years, and had played together in private theatricals at Coppct. Still it was not until 1814, when Madame Récamier had an interview with him in regard to the affairs of the King and Queen of Naples, that the relations between them assumed a serious aspect, lie left her at the end of this interview violently enamored. According to Madame Lenormant, Benjamin Constant had not the slightest encouragement to justify his madness, but, it is clear from other testimony that Madame Recamier was not free from blame in respect to him. Sainte-Beuve hints that the subject is unpleasant, and summarily dismisses it; and Madame Möhl, ever ready to defend Madame Recamier, acknowledges that in this case she was to blame, and that Madame Récamier thought so herself, and wished Constant’s letters to be published after her death, in order to justify him. She adds, that it was a mistake not, to publish them, as their suppression has given occasion for surmises utterly false. There is nothing in the “ Souvenirs” to explain either the vague hints of Sainte-Beuve or the obscure allusions of Madame Möhl ; and the biographical sketches of Constant throw no light upon the subject: they are chiefly narratives of his political career.

If we except Châteaubriand, who was more loved than loving, Benjamin Constant stands last on the list of Madame Recamier’s conquests; for, after the author of “ Atala” and of the “ Genius of Christianity ” crossed her path, we hear of no more flirtations, no more despairing lovers. Châteaubriand and Madame écamier first met, familiarly, at the death-bed of Madame de Stael, whose loss they mutually deplored. It was not, however, until the next year, 1818, when Madame Récamier had retired to the Abbaye-aux-Bois, that the acquaintance ripened into intimacy. A second reverse of fortune was the cause of this retirement, to which we shall briefly refer before entering upon the more complicated subject of this friendship.

New and unfortunate speculations on the part of Monsieur Récamier had not only left him penniless, but bad to some extent involved his wife’s fortune, which she bad confided to him. In this emergency, Madame Récamier acted with her usual promptitude and decision. She had two objects in view in her plans for the future, — economy, and a separation from her husband. An asylum in the Abbaye-aux-Bois secured to her both advantages. She established her husband and father in the vicinity of the Convent, and they with Ballanche dined with her every day. From Monsieur Récamier she exacted a promise to engage in no more speculations, while she supplied his wants. “ She anticipated his needs with a filial affection, and until the last studied to make his life mild and pleasant,— a singularly easy task on account of his optimism.” Monsieur Récamier had need to be a philosopher. The nominal husband of a beautiful woman, with whom be bad shared his prosperity, he had not only to bear her indifference, but to see ber form friendships and make plans from which he was excluded. When his misfortunes left him a dependent upon her bounty, be was a mere cipher in her household, — kindly treated, but with a kindness that savored more of toleration than affection. Monsieur Récamier died at the advanced age of eighty. Shortly before bis death, his wife obtained permission from the Convent to remove him to the Abbaye, where he was tenderly cared for by her in his last moments.

The retirement forced upon Madame Recamier by her husband’s reverses was far from being seclusion. “ La petite cellule,” as Chateaubriand called her retreat, was as much frequented as her brilliant salons in Paris had been, and she was even more highly considered. Châteaubriand visited her regularly at three o’clock ; they passed an hour alone, when other persons favored by him were admitted. In the evening her door was open to all. She no longer mingled in society, people came to her, and nothing could be more delightful than her receptions. All parties and all ranks met there, and her salon gradually became a literary centre and locus. Delphine Gay (Madame Émile de Girardin) recited her first verses there, Rachel declaimed there, and Lamartine’s “ Méditations” were read and applauded there before publication. Among distinguished strangers who sought admittance to the Abbaye, we notice the names of Humboldt, Sir Humphry Davy, and Maria Edgeworth. De Tocqueville, Monsieur Ampère, and Sainte-Beuve were frequent visitors. Peace and serenity reigned there, for Madame Récamier softened asperities and healed dissensions by the mere magnetism of her presence. “ It was Eurydice,” said Sainte-Beuve, “playing the part of Orpheus.” Rut while she was the presiding genius of this varied and brilliant society, Châteaubriand was the controlling spirit. Everybody deferred to him, if not for his sake, then for the sake of her whose greatest happiness was to see him pleased and amused.

Madame Récamier has frequently been called cold and heartless. English reviewers have doubted whether she was capable of any warm, deep attachment. Sainte-Beuve even, with all his insight, believed that the desire to be loved had satisfied her heart, and that she herself had never loved. But he formed this opinion before the publication of Madame Récamier’s memoirs. Châteaubriand’s letters, together with other corroborating facts, warrant a totally different conclusion. It is very evident that Madame Récamier loved Châteaubriand with all the strength of a reticent and constant nature. That he was the only man she did love, we think is also clear. Prince Augustus captivated her for a time, but her conduct toward him, in contrast with that toward Châteaubriand, proves that her heart had not then been touched. The one she treated with caprice and coldness, the other with unvarying consideration and tenderness. There is no reason to conclude that the Prince ever made her unhappy, while it is certain that Châteaubriand made her miserable, and a mere friendship, however deep, does not render a woman wretched. This attachment not only shaped and colored the remainder of Madame Récamier’s life, but it threatened at one time to completely subvert all other interests. She who was so equable, such a perfect mistress of herself, so careful to give every one due meed of attention, became fitful and indifferent. Her friends saw the change with alarm, and Montmorency remonstrated bitterly with her. “ I was extremely troubled and ashamed,” he writes, “ at the sudden change in your manner toward others and myself. Ah, Madame, the evil that your best friends have been dreading has made rapid progress in a few weeks I Does not this thought make you tremble ? Ah, turn, while yet there is time, to Him who gives strength to them who pray for it! He can cure all, repair all. God and a generous heart are all-sufficient. I implore Him, from the bottom of my heart, to sustain and enlighten you.”

Ballanche, equally concerned and jealous, strove to interest her in literature, and urged her to translate Petrarch. Madame Récamier speedily recovered herself. She listened graciously to the admonitions of Montmorency, and she consented to undertake Petrarch, but made little progress in the work. Still, as far as her feelings for Châteaubriand were concerned, the efforts of her friends were in vain. He occupied the first place in her affections, and she regulated her time and pursuits to please and accommodate him, though for a long time he but poorly repaid her devotion. He admired and perhaps loved her, as well as he was capable of loving anybody but himself, but it was not until disappointments had sobered him that he fully appreciated her worth. At the time their intimacy commenced he was the pet and favorite of the whole French nation. “ The Genius of Christianity ” had been received with acclamations by a people just recovering from the wild skepticism of the Revolution. The reaction had taken place, the Goddess of Reason was dethroned, and the burning words and vivid eloquence of Châteaubriand appealed at once to the heart and the imagination of his countrymen. They did not criticise, they only admired. Politically he was also a rising man. The world, or at least the French world, expected great things from the writer of the pamphlet, “ De Buonaparte et des Bourbons.” His manners were courtly and distinguished, aud women especially flattered and courted him. Their attentions fostered his natural vanity, and his fancy, if not his heart., wandered from Madame Récamier, and she knew It. The tables were turned : she who had been so passionately beloved was now to feel some of the pangs she had all her life been unconsciously inflicting. Wounded and jealous, she stooped to reproaches. The following extracts from letters addressed to her by Châteaubriand while he was ambassador at London clearly betray the state of her mind.

“ I will not ask you again for an explanation, since you will not give it. I have written you by the last courier a letter which ought to content you, if you still love me.”

“ Do not delude yourself with the idea that you can fly from me. I will seek you everywhere. But if I go to the Congress, it will be an occasion to put you to the proof. I shall see then if you keep your promises.”

Allans, — I much prefer to understand your folly than to read mysterious and angry notes. I comprehend now, or at least I think I do. It is apparently that woman of whom the friend of the Queen of Sweden has spoken to you. But, tell me, have I the means to prevent Vernet, Mademoiselle Levert, who writes me declarations, and thirty artistes, men and women, from coming to England in order to get money ? And if I have been culpable, do you think that such fancies can do you the least injury, or take from you anything winch I have given you? You have been told a thousand falsehoods. Herein I recognize my friends. But tranquillize yourself: the lady leaves, and will never return to England. But perhaps you would like me to remain here on that account: a very useless precaution; for, whatever happens, Congress or no Congress, I cannot live so long separated from you, and am determined to see you at any cost.”

The letters from which we quote are very characteristic of their author. While protesting eternal fidelity, and declaring his intention to renounce the world and live but tor Madame Récamier, he begs her at the same time to use all her influence to get him sent to the approaching Congress at Vienna as one of the French representatives, — an appointment which would necessarily separate him still longer from her. “ Sontjez au Congrès ” is the retrain to all his poetical expressions of attachment.

It is to be hoped that Madame Recamier did not perceive the inconsistency of which lie was totally unconscious. Though Châteaubriand was perpetually analyzing himself and his emotions, no man had less self-knowledge. He was too much absorbed by his “ self-study, self-wonder, and self-worship,” as one of his critics styles his egotism, to be clearsighted. He had generous impulses, but no uniform generosity of heart ; and while glorying in the few ostentatious sacrifices he made to pet ideas, he had no perception of the nature ot sell-sacrifice. Much, therefore, as he was gratified at the devotion of a woman of Madame Récamier’s position and influence, he did not value it sufficiently to make anv sacrifices to secure it, and consequently she was continually annoyed and distressed. Her life was also embittered by his political differences with Mathieu de Montmorency, to whom, by means which can scarcely be deemed honorable, he had succeeded as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The confidential friend of both parties, her position was a very difficult one ; but she was equal to the emergency. She satisfied each, without being false to, or unmindful of, the interests of either.

But her relations to Châteaubriand were fast becoming intolerable, and she resolved to break her chains and leave Paris. He regarded this resolution as a mere threat. “ No,” he wrote, “ you have not bid farewell to all earthly joys. If you go, you will return.” She did go, however, taking with her Ballanche and her adopted daughter, whose delicate health was the ostensible cause of her departure. What it cost her to leave Paris may well be conjectured, and nothing is more indicative of her power of self-control than this voluntary withdrawal from a companionship which fascinated while it tortured her. Châteaubriand sent letters after her full of protestations and upbraidings ; but after a while he wrote less frequently, and for a year they ceased to correspond. To a friend who urged her to return Madame Récamier wrote, — “ If I return at present to Paris, I shall again meet with the agitations that induced me to leave it. If Monsieur Châteaubriand were unhappy on mv account, l should be grieved; if he were not, I should have another trouble, which I am determined henceforth to avoid. I find here diversion in art, and a support in religion which shall shelter me from all these storms. It is painful to me to remain absent six months longer from my friends; but it is better to make this sacrifice, and I confess to you that I feel it. to be necessary.”

There was much to make a stay in Italy attractive to Madame Récamier, if she could have forgotten Châteaubriand. Her old admirer, the Due de Laval, was ambassador at Rome, and put his horses and servants at her disposal. She renewed her acquaintance with the celebrated Duchess of Devonshire, ( Lady Elizabeth Foster,) whose career was quite as singular as her own, while it was more open to reproach. The Duchess was a liberal patron of the fine arts, and the devoted friend of Cardinal Gonsalvi, from the shock of whose death she never recovered. Madame Récamier also found at Rome the Duchess of Saint-Leu, whom she had slighily known when she was Queen of Holland. For political reasons it was unwise for them to visit openly, so they contrived private and romantic interviews. Their friendship seems to have been close and sincere. Subsequently, Madame Récamier was able, through her political influence, to serve Hortense in many ways. She also took an interest in her son Louis Napoleon, and visited him in prison after his unsuccessful attempt at Strasbourg, which kindness he afterwards acknowledged in several notes preserved by Madame Lenormant.

But while accepting all the diversions offered her by the pleasant society at Rome, Madame Récamier was not unmindful of Chateaubriand. She ordered from the artist Tenerani a bas-relief, the subject to be taken from Châteaubriand’s poem of “ The Martyrs.” She wrote constantly to her friends in Paris for intelligence respecting him, and watched his course from afar with interest and anxiety. It was not one to tranquillize her. He had quarrelled with the President of the Council, Villèle; and. being also personally disliked by the King, he was peremptorily dismissed, and he bore this disgrace with neither dignity nor composure. Turning his pen against the government, he did as much by his persistent savage opposition, clothed as it was in the language of superb invective, to bring about the final overthrow of the elder Bourbon dynasty, as either the stupid arrogance of Charles X. or the dogged tyranny of Polignac. Yet no man was more concerned and disgusted than he was at the result of the Revolution of 1830. So far true to his convictions, he refused office under Louis Philippe, priding himself greatly on his allegiance to the exiled princes, when neither his loyalty nor his services could be of any use. The truth is, that, though Châteaubriand was fond of meddling and making a noise, he had none of the fundamental qualities of a statesman. By the inspiration of his genius, he could seize the right moment for making a telling speech, or he could promulgate in a pamphlet a striking truth, calculated to electrify and convince. But he could not be calmly deliberate. Always enthusiastic, he was never temperate. He was the slave of his partialities and prejudices. Harriet Martineau, who for keen analysis and nice discrimination of châracter has few equals among historians, characterizes him as “ the wordy Chateaubriand,” and Guizot says of him, “ It was his illusion to think himself the equal of the most consummate statesmen, and his soul was filled with bitterness because men would not admit him to be the rival of Napoleon as well as of Milton.” It was this bitterness with which Madame Récamier had to contend, for his literary successes did not console him for his political disappointments, and his temper, never very equable, was now more variable and uncertain.

After an absence of eighteen months she returned to Paris. She apprised Châteaubriand of her arrival by a note. He came immediately to see her, and was rapturous with delight. No word of reproach passed between them, and he fell at once into his old habits. From this time his behavior was respectful and devoted. Absence and his disappointments had taught him the inestimable value of such a friend. She daily became more and more necessary to him. After his resignation of the Roman embassy in 1829, which had been secured to him through her instrumentality, he no longer engaged actively in polities, and, deprived of the stimulus of ambition, he looked to her for excitement. She encouraged his literary exertions, drew him out from his fits of depression, and soothed his wounded self-love. This was no light task ; for Châteaubriand’s self-complacency was not of that imperturbable sort which, however intolerable to others, has at least the merit of keeping its possessor content and tranquil. With him it partook more of the nature of egotism than of self-conceit, and it therefore made him always restless and continually dissatisfied. But no effort was too great for Madame Récamier’s devotion. Her friends looked upon her sacrifices with feelings of mingled regret and admiration, but she herself was unconscious of them. They were simply a labor of love; and much as her tranquillity must have been disturbed at times by the caprices and exactions of this moody, melancholy man, she was probably happy in being allowed to sacrifice herself. Of the success of her efforts Sainte - Beuve thus gracefully speaks: “Madame de Maintenon was never more ingenious in amusing Louis XIV. than Madame Récamier in interesting Châteaubriand. ‘ I have always remarked,’ said Boileau, on returning from Versailles, ‘that, when the conversation does not turn on himself, the King directly gets tired, and is either ready to yawn or to go away.’ Every great poet, when he is growing old, is a little like Louis XIV. in this respect. Madame Récamier had each day a thousand pleasant contrivances to excite and flatter him. She assembled from all quarters friends for him, — new admirers. She chained us all to the feet of her idol with links of gold.”

One of her most successful efforts in amusing him was the reading of “ Les Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe ” to a select and admiring audience at the Abbaye. He first read them in private to Madame Récamier, who passed judgment upon them, and they were then read aloud by M. Charles Lenormant. This device worked like a charm; everybody applauded, and the author was content The personal interest attached to the chief parties concerned, no doubt, made these readings very delightful. But it would now be impossible for any reader to be enthusiastic about the Memoirs themselves. Out of France it would be difficult to find a more egotistical piece of self-portraiture. Châteaubriand is not quite so ostentatious in his egotism as the Prince de Ligne, who headed the chapters in his Mémoires et Mélanges,” “ De moi pendant le jour,” “ De moi pendant la nuit,” De moi encore,” “ Memoire pour mon cœur ” ; still he parades himself on every possible occasion, and not always to his own advantage. His conduct In passing himself off as a single man in an English family who were kind to him during his exile, thereby engaging the daughter’s affections, is entirely inexcusable. That a person of Madame Récamier’s good judgment did not perceive the discredit that must attach to such revelations is only to be accounted for by supposing her blind to Châteaubriand’s follies. But with all her partiality, it is still surprising that she should have given her sanction to his deliberate and cold analysis of the character of his parents, and his equally heartless and selfish reflections on his marriage.

Châteaubriand married simply to please his sisters, feeling that he “ had none of the qualifications of a husband,” and for years he seemed entirely oblivious of his wife’s existence. After he gave up his wandering life, and became distinguished, he treated her with more consideration. Madame de Châteaubriand was a pretty, delicate woman, of quick natural intelligence. M. Danielo, Châteaubriand’s secretary, has written an interesting sketch of her, which is affixed to her husband’s memoirs. She was a person of eccentric habits, but of a warm heart and lively sensibilities, and was devoted to her religious duties and the Infirmary of Maria Theresa. She professed a great contempt for literature, and asserted that she had never read a line of her husband’s works; but this was regarded as an affectation. Madame de Châteaubriand was not an amiable person, but very frank and sincere. She often reproached herself for her faults and love of contradiction. Though she appears to have loved her husband, she was not blind to his weaknesses, and he was afraid of her sallies. So vain and sensitive a man could not feel comfortable in the society of a woman of her keen penetration, and her wit was not always tempered by discretion. Madame Récamier gained by the contrast. She believed in him, and “ there are few things so pleasant,” says a writer in Fraser, “ as to have a woman at hand that believes in you.” Madame Récamier’s insight never disturbed Châteaubriand, for it was of the heart, not of the intellect. It was not a critical analysis that probes and dissects, but a sympathy that cheered and tranquillized. There could be but little in common between two such women, though they were on friendly terms; and when Châteaubriand left his wife in Paris, he always commended her to Madame Récamier’s care. On one occasion he writes, — “ I must again request you to go and see Madame de Châteaubriand, who complains that she has not seen you. What would you have ? Since you have become associated in my life, it is necessary to share it fully.”

There is nothing to indicate Madame Récamier’s sentiments toward the wife of her friend, except a significant passage in one of Châteaubriand’s letters: — “ Your judgments are very severe on the Rue du Bac.4 But think of the difference of habit. If you look upon her occupations as trifles, she may on her side think the same with regard to yours. It is only necessary to change the point of view.”

Madame de Châteaubriand died in February, 1847, from the effects of dieting. A few months after her death her husband offered himself in marriage to Madame Récamier, who rejected him. “ Why should we marry ? ” she said. “ There can be no impropriety in my taking care of you at our age. If you find solitude oppressive, I am willing to live with you. The world, I am confident, will do justice to the purity of our friendship, and sanction all my efforts to render your old age comfortable and happy. If we were younger, I would not hesitate, — I would accept with joy the right to consecrate my life to you. Tears and blindness have given me that right. Let us change nothing.”

We have heard this refusal of Madame Récamier’s urged as a proof that she did not love Châteaubriand ; but when we consider their respective ages at the time, this objection has little weight. Châteaubriand was seventy-nine; Madame Récamier seventy. The former was tottering on the brink of the grave. He had lost the use of his limbs, and his mind was visibly failing. Madame Récamier was keenly sensible of the decay of his faculties, though she succeeded so well in concealing the fact from others that few of the habitual visitors at the Abbaye recognized its extent. The reason she gave to her friends for refusing him was undoubtedly the true one. She said that his daily visit to her was his only diversion, and he would lose that, if she married him.

The record of these last years of Madame Récamier’s life is inexpressibly touching, telling as it does of self-denial, patient suffering, and silent devotion. To avert the blindness which was gradually stealing upon her, she submitted to an operation, which might have been successful, had she obeyed the injunctions of her physicians. But Ballanche lay dying in the opposite house, and, true to the noble instincts of her heart, she could not let the friend who had loved her so long and well die alone. She crossed the street, and took her place by his bedside, thus seating her own fate, for all hopes of recovering her sight were lost. Her health also was extremely delicate ; but, much as she needed quiet and repose, she kept up her relations with society and held her receptions for Châteaubriand’s sake. But both their lives were fast approaching to a close. Châteaubriand died on the 4th of July, 1848. For some time before his death he was speechless, but kept his dying eyes fixed upon Madame Récamier. Site could not see him, and this dark, dreary silence filled her soul with despair.

Madame Récamier shed no tears over her loss, and uttered no lamentations. She received the condolences of her friends with gratitude, and strove to interest herself in their pursuits. But a deadly paleness, which never left her, spread over her face, and “ the sad smile on her lips was heart-breaking.” Sightless and sad, it was time for her to die. Madame de Stël and Montmorency, the friends of her youth, had long since departed. Ballanche was gone, and now Châteaubriand. She survived the latter only eleven months. Stricken with cholera the following summer, her illness was short, but severe, and her last words to Madame Lenormant, who bent over her, were, “ Nous nous reverrons,—nous nous recerrons.”

So impalpable was the attraction that brought the world to the feet of Madame Récamier that it is interesting to analyze it. It did not lie in her beauty and wealth alone ; for she lost the one, while time blighted tlie other. Nor was it due to power of will ; for she was not great intellectually. And had she been a person of strong convictions, she would never have been so universally popular. As it was, she pleased equally persons of every shade of opinion and principle. Her instinctive coquetry can partly account for her sway over men, but not over women. What, then, was the secret of her influence ? It lay in the subtile power of a marvellous tact. This tact had its roots deep in her nature. It was part and parcel of herself, ihe distinguishing trait in a rare combination of qualities. Though nurtured and ripened by experience, it was not the offspring of art. It was an effect, not a cause,—not simply the result of an intense desire to please, regulated by a fine intuitive perception, but of higher, finer characteristics, such as natural sweetness of temper, kindness of heart, and forgetfulness of self. Her successes were the triumph of impulse rather than of design. In order to please she did not study character, she divined it. Keenly alive to outward influences, and losing in part her own personality when coming in contact with that of others, she readily adapted herself to their moods, — and her apprehension was quick, if not profound. It is always gratifying to feel one’s self understood, and every person who talked with Madame Récamier enjoyed this pleasant consciousness. No one felt a humiliating sense of inferiority in her presence, and this was owing as much to the character of her intellect as to her tact. Partial friends detected genius in her conversation and letters, and tried to excite lifer to literary effort; but other and stronger evidence forces us to look upon such praise as mere delicate flattery. A woman more beautiful than gifted was far more likely to be gratified by a compliment to her intellect than to her personal charms, as Madame de Staël was more delighted at an allusion to the beauty of her neck and arms than to the merits of “ L' Allemagne ” or “ Corinne.” But if Madame Récamier did not possess genius, she had unerring instincts which stood her in lieu of it, and her mind, if not original, was appreciative. The genuine admiration she felt for her literary friends stimulated as well as gratified them. She drew them out, and, dazzled by their own brilliancy, they gave her credit for thoughts which were in reality their own. To this faculty of intelligent appreciation was joined another still more captivating. She was a good listener. “ Bien écouter c'est presque répondre,” quotes Jean Paul from Marivaux, and Sainto-Beuve said of Madame Recamier that she listened “ avec séduction.” She was also an extremely indulgent and charitable person, and was severe neither on the faults nor on the foibles of others. “ No one knew so well as she how to spread balm on the wounds that are never acknowledged, how to calm and exorcise the bitterness of rivalry or literary animosity. For moral chagrins and imaginary sorrows, which are so intense in some natures, she was, par excellence, the Sister of Charity.” The repose of her manner made this sympathy more effective. Hers was not a stormy nature, but calm and equable. If she had emotion to master, it was mastered in secret, and not a ripple on the surface betrayed the agitation beneath. She had no nervous likes or dislikes, no changeful humors, few unequal moods. She did not sparkle and then die out. The fire was always kindled on the hearth, the lamp serenely burning. Some women charm by their mutability ; she attracted by her uniformity. But in her uniformity there was no monotony. Like the continuous murmur of a brook, it gladdened as well as soothed.

It was probably these sweet womanly qualities, together with the meekness with which she bore her honors, that endeared her to her feminine friends. All her life had been a series of triumphs, which were not won by any conscious effort on her part, but were spontaneous gifts of fortune, —

“ As though a shower of fairy wreaths
Had fallen upon her from the sky.”

Yet her manner was entirely free from pretension or self-assertion.

It. is not one of the least remarkable things about Madame Récamier, that one who had been so petted front childhood, so exposed to pernicious influences, should have continued unspoiled by adulation, uncorrupted by example. The gay life she led was calculated to make her selfish and arrogant, yet she was to an eminent degree self-sacrificing and gentle. Constant in her affections, she never lost a friend through waywardness, or alienated any by indifference. It has been prettily said of her, that she brought the art of friendship to perfection. Coquettish she was,—seldom capricious. Her coquetry was owing more to an instinctive desire to please than to any systematic attempt to swell the list of her conquests. She had received the gift of fascination at her birth: and can a woman be fascinating who has not a touch of coquetry ? It was as natural in Madame Récamier to charm as it was to breathe. It was a necessity of her nature, which her unnatural position developed and fostered to a reprehensible extent. But while she permitted herself to be loved, and rejoiced in the consciousness of this power, she never carried her flirtations so far as to lose her own self-respect or the respect of her admirers. She was ever dignified and circumspect, though gracious and captivating. To most of her lovers, therefore, she was more a goddess whom they worshipped than a woman whom they loved. Ballanche compared her to the solitary phœnix, nourished by perfumes, and living in the purest regions of the air,'—

“ Who sings to the last his own death-lay,
And in music and perfume dies away.”

It is a singular fact, that the men who began by loving her passionately usually ended by becoming her true friends. Still there were exceptions to this rule, exceptions which her biographer does not care to dwell upon, but which the more candid Sainte-Beuve acknowledges, giving as his authority Madame Récamier, who was fond of talking over the past with her new friends. “ ‘ C'est une manière, disait-elle, ‘ de mettre du pasté devant I’amitié.’ ” The subtile and piquant critic cannot resist saying, in regard to these reminiscences, that “ elle se souvenait avec goût.” Still, pleasant as her recollections were, she often looked back self-reproachfully upon passages of her youth ; and Sainte - Beuve, though he calls her coquetry “ une coquetterie angélique,” recognizes it as a blemish. “She, who was so good, brought sorrow to many hearts, not only to indignant and soured men, but to poor feminine rivals, whom she sacrificed and wounded without knowing it. It is the dark side of her life, which she lived to comprehend,”

This “ dark side ” suggests itself. It is impossible to read the record of Madame Récamier’s conquests without thinking of women slighted and neglected for her sake. The greater number of her admirers were married men. That their wives did not hate this all-conquering woman is strange indeed; that they witnessed her triumphs unmoved is scarcely credible. For, while French society allows great laxity in such matters, and a domestic husband, as we understand the term, is a rarity, still French wives, we imagine, differ very little from other women in wishing to be considered a first object. Public desertion is rarely relished even where there is no affection to be wounded, for it is not necessary to love to be jealous. But whatever heart-aches and jealousies were caused by Madame Récamier’s conquests, they do not appear on the surface. In her voluminous correspondence we find tender letters from husbands side by side with friendly notes from their wives. Her biographer parades the latter with some ostentation, as a proof of the friendship these women entertained for Madame Récamier. That they respected her is evident; that they loved her is not so apparent. Mere complimentary notes prove but little. He must be but a superficial judge of life who draw’s decided conclusions simply from appearances. Madame Lucien Bonaparte might invite Madame Récamier to her fetes ; but the consciousness that all her world knew that her husband was épris with her beautiful guestdid not tend to make her cordial at heart. Madame Moreau, young and lovely, might visit her intimately, and even cherish friendship for her; but she could scarcely be an indifferent spectator,, when the great General demanded a white ribbon from her friend’s dress as a favor, and afterward wrote to her that he had worn it in every battle, and that it had been the talisman that led him on to victory. Nor is it probable that Madame de Montmorency and Madame de Châteaubriand, unloved wives, saw without a pang another woman possess the influence which they exerted in vain. But, if they suffered, it was in secret; and, moreover, they did justice to the character of their rival. Madame Récamier’s reputation was compromised neither in their eyes nor in the eyes of the world. Society is seldom just to any woman whose career in life is exceptional; but to her it was not only just, but indulgent. When we reflect upon her peculiar position, so exposed to injurious suspicions, the doubtful reputation of some of her associates, the character lor gallantry possessed by many of her avowed admirers, it seems scarcely possible that she should have escaped calumny. The few scandals caused by some of her early indiscretions were soon dissipated, and she lived down all unpleasant rumors. She, indeed, seemed to possess some talisman, as potent as the magic ring that bewitched King Charlemagne, by whose spell she disarmed envy and silenced detraction. This attaching power she exercised on every person who came within the sphere of her influence. Even the gossiping Duchess D’Abrantes has only words of respectful admiration for her. The preconceived prejudices of Madame Swetchine, whom Miss Muloch numbers among her “ Good Women,” vanished at a firstinterview. She wrote to her,—“ 1 found myself a captive before I dreamt of defending myself. I yielded at once to that penetrating and undefinable charm which you exert even over those persons to whom you are indifferent.” Madame de Genlis, equally prejudiced, was alike subdued. She made Madame Récamier the heroine of a novel, and addressed letters to her full of affectionate admiration and extravagant flattery. “You are one of the phenomena of the age,” she writes, “ and certainly the most amiable. . . . You can look back upon the past without remorse. At any age this is the most beautiful of privileges, but at our time of life it is invaluable.” Madame Lenormant, even more enthusiastic, calls her a saint, which she certainly was not, but a gracious woman of the world. Some acts of her life it is impossible to defend. They tarnish the lustre of an otherwise irreproachable career. Still, when we think of the low tone of morals prevalent in her youth, together with her many and great temptations, it is surprising that she should have preserved her purity of heart, and earned the respect and love of the best and wisest of her contemporaries. No woman has ever received more universal and uniform homage, or has been more deeply lamented. Her death lefta void in French society that has never been filled. The salon, which, from its origin in the seventeenth century, was so vital an element in Paris life, no longer exists. That ol the Hôtel de Rambouillet was the first; that of the Abbaye-aux-Bois the last. “ On se reunit encore, on dome des fêtes splendides, on ne cause plus,”

  1. Madame Récamier, with a Sketch of the History of society in France. By Madame M * * * London. 1862.
  2. Causeries de Lundi.
  3. Coppet et Weimar: Madame de Staël et la Grande Duchesse Louise.
  4. Madame de Châteaubriand.