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brought me a quantity of vases to choose from. I dusted them carefully, and placed them on a mahogany table, laid without a cloth. I then placed a large screen behind the chairs, which I concealed by covering it here and there with a drapery like that which is seen in some of Poussin's paintings. A hanging lamp threw a strong light on the table. At last everything was prepared, even my costumes; the first to arrive was a daughter of Joseph Vernet, the charming Madame Chalgrin. Immediately I dressed her hair and draped her; then came Madame de Verneuil, renowned for her beauty; Madame Vigée, my sister-in-law, who, without being pretty, had the most lovely eyes; and there they were all three metamorphosed into bona fide Athenians. Le Brun-Pindare came in, we took off his powder, and undid his side-curls, and on his head I placed a wreath of laurel. The Comte de Parois had a large purple mantle which served for drapery for my poet, and in a twinkling there was Pindare transformed into Anacreon. Then came the Marquis de Cubières; while they went to his house for his guitar, which he had mounted as a golden lyre, I dressed him also, as well as M. de Rivière (my sister-in-law's brother), Gingueré, and Chaudet, the famous sculptor.
It was getting late; I had not much time to think of myself, but, as I always wore white, tunic-shaped dresses, now called blouses, I only needed a veil and a crown of flowers on my head. I took great pains with my daughter, a charming child, and Mademoiselle de Bonneuil, now Madame Regnault d'Angély, who was very pretty. Both were most graceful to behold, bearing each an antique vase and waiting
At half-past nine the preparations were over, and as soon as we were seated the effect of the arrangement was so novel and picturesque that we kept rising in turns in order to look at those who were seated. At ten we heard the carriage of the Comte de Vaudreuil and De Boutin, and when these two gentlemen entered the room they found us singing the chorus of Gluck, "The God of Paphos and Guido," while M. de Cubières accompanied us on his lyre.
I never in my life saw two such astonished faces as those of M. de Vaudreuil and his companion. They were surprised and delighted, and could hardly tear themselves away from looking at us, in order to sit down in the places reserved for them. Besides the two dishes I have mentioned, we had a cake made of honey and Corinthian grapes, and two plates of vegetables. We did, indeed, drink that evening a bottle of old Cyprian wine, which I had given me, but that was our only excess. We sat a long time at table, and Le Brun recited several odes to us. We all spent a most enjoyable evening.
No one had at this time any apprehension of what was coming. Life was a carnival; every one lived for pleasure, and pleasure alone. Everything was for the best in the best of all possible worlds. There was discontent among the
people, but no one for an instant imagined that anything would occur to shake the monarchy to its foundations. France in 1786 was apparently as powerful as ever. She had been victorious in war, she was ruling Holland, building out the sea at Cherbourg, and concluding a commercial treaty with England, which was calculated to restore material prosperity to her people. the cost of the war to free America had been enormous-seventy millions. And there was this danger: the King of France was in the same situation as "The Divine Figure from the North" is now. He had dispensed liberty abroad, and it was demanded at home. The King of France tried concession; it failed. The Emperor of Russia is using repression; it may succeed. In addition to this, the hard winter of 1788-'89, combined with the scarcity of corn, exasperated the people to the last degree; and the most alarming symptoms of popular discontent began to appear. But no one even then imagined the catastrophe so near.
Madame Le Brun writes:
About the same time I went to spend a few days at Marly with Madame Auguier, a sister of Madame Campans, and attached, like herself, to the Queen's household. She had a château and a fine park near the weir. One day as we were standing at a window looking on to the court, and thence to the high-road, we saw a drunken man enter and fall down. dame Auguier, with her usual kindness, called to her husband's valet and told him to pick up this unfortunate creature, take him to the kitchen, and look after him. Soon after the valet returned.
"Madame is really too kind," said he ; man is a scoundrel! here are the papers he let fall from his pocket"; and he placed in our hands several documents, one of which began with, "Down with the royal family! Down with the nobles and priests!" Then followed revolutionary litanies and a thousand atrocious prophecies, drawn up in language which made one's hair stand on end. Madame Auguier had the village-guards called up; four of these soldiers came, who were desired to take the man away and make inquiries about him; they led him off, but the valet, who followed them from some distance without their knowledge, saw them, as soon as they had turned the road, take their prissoner by the arm and dance about and sing with him as though they were the best of friends. I can not tell you how this alarmed us; what was to become of us if the civil guard even lent itself to the cause of the wicked?
I advised Madame Auguier to show these papers to the Queen, and a few days after, being on duty again, she read them to her Majesty, who returned them, saying: "It is impossible that they should meditate such wickedness; I will never believe them capable of it!"
Alas! subsequent events have shown the fallacy of this noble doubt; and, without speaking of the
august victim who would not believe in such horrors, poor Madame Auguier herself was destined to pay for her devotion with her life.
This devotion never wavered. In the cruel times of the Revolution, knowing the Queen was without money, she insisted on lending her twenty-five louis. The revolutionists heard of it, and hastened to the Tuileries to conduct her to prison-or, in other words, to the guillotine. On seeing them coming furiously toward her with menaces on their lips, Madame Auguier preferred speedy death to the agony of falling into their hands; she threw herself out of the window and was killed.
The soldiers and police were not to be depended on. In fact, the extinguishers were on fire, and the revolutionists were emboldened to proceed to extremities. The famous "Maison du Roi," the descendants of the heroes who had turned the tide of battle at Steinkirk and Fontenoy, had been disbanded for financial reasons.
The Swiss regiments were alone to be depended on, who fought for their master nobly, but in vain.
Madame Le Brun writes:
The dreadful year of 1789 had begun, and fear had taken possession of all wise minds. I remember in particular one evening, having invited some friends to hear some music, that the greater part of them arrived with consternation depicted on their faces; they had been that morning to Longchamps; the populace, assembled at the Barrière de l'Etoile, had abused frightfully all those who were in carriages; some wretches got out on the steps of the carriages, crying out, "Next year you will be behind your coaches, and we shall be inside!" This and many other still worse remarks they were exposed
In October, after the King and Queen were dragged to Paris by the triumphant populace, Madame Le Brun sought safety in flight-luckily for herself, as the favorite of royalty would have probably shared the fate of so many of her friends.
On her way to Italy
I had opposite me in the diligence a man extremely dirty and unpleasantly odorous, who told me very coolly that he had stolen watches and other articles of value. Fortunately he saw nothing on me to tempt him; for I had only a little linen with me and eighty louis for my journey; all my trinkets I had left at Paris. The thief, not content with relating these acts of prowess, spoke continually about hanging such and such persons, naming several people of my acquaintance. My little girl was so frightened at the man's manner and conversation that I took courage to say to him, "Sir, I beg of you, do not speak of murder before this child." He was silenced, and ended by having a game of play with her.
It was in Italy that Madame Le Brun heard the details of the horrors in Paris, of the death of so many dear friends. It is a curious fact that the only person guillotined who showed signs of fear was Madame du Barry, the celebrated mistress of Louis XV.
Madame Le Brun writes:
She is the only woman, among the numbers who perished in those days, who was unable to face the scaffold: she wept, she implored mercy from the horrible crowd which surrounded her, and that crowd was so affected that the executioner hastened to put an end to her agony. I am convinced that, had the victims of that awful time not died so courageously, the Terror would have ceased much soonMen whose intellects are not fully developed have too little imagination to feel touched by internal suffering, and the pity of the populace was more easily aroused than its admiration.
du Barry should have produced more effect on It is singular that the screams of Madame
the bloodthirsty populace than the sight mentioned by De Tocqueville of a tumbrel full of noble ladies being dragged to the place of execution who were looking as serene and tranquil as if they were going "à la messe."
On her arrival in Rome Madame Le Brun was warmly received by her friends:
The Abbé Maury came to tell me that the Pope wished me to take his portrait. I greatly desired to do so, but it was necessary that I should be veiled while painting his Holiness, and the fear that under the circumstances I should not be able to do justice to my subject compelled me to decline this honor. I was very sorry about it, for Pius VI. was one of the
handsomest men I had seen.
The French nobility flying from the Revolution were now arriving in Rome. There were also many distinguished ladies from different countries who sat to Madame Le Brun for their portraits. Miss Pitt, the daughter of Lord Camelford, afterward Lady Grenville, who only died the other day at an advanced age, then sixteen and very pretty, was painted as Hebe on clouds, holding a goblet in her hand, from which an eagle was drinking."
Madame Le Brun writes:
At the same time I took the portrait of a Polish lady, the Countess Potocki. She came to me with her husband, and, when he had left us, she coolly observed: "It is my third husband; but I think I shall take up with my first again, who suited me better, although he is a regular scamp."
Will the ties of marriage ever become as loose in England? We really are in fear. Only the other day three thousand Norfolk farmers were seized with a burning desire to marry their
wives' sisters,* and this at a time of agricultural depression! They will surely go further when the good old times return. And their petition to Parliament was presented in such cold weather! Sydney Smith had an idea that people were more moral in the winter than the summer; heat made their virtue ooze out of their fingers' ends. As an illustration of this he once t called out to
the most singular habits and prejudices. Madame Le Brun was invited to see him ride, which the Prince imagined that he did better than any one.
Madame Le Brun writes:
He rode like a Frenchman; his costume and figure reminded me of the cavaliers of the time of
Louis XIV., such as we see them represented in the
beautiful pictures of Wouvermans.
Although so old, he would never allow the passage to the other world to be mentioned in his presence. There was no such thing as death. When Maria Theresa died the event was an
Mrs. Norton at a large dinner-party, "If this hot weather lasts we must give up port wine and marriage, and addict ourselves to sherbet and polygamy." A woman with three husbands alive must have such delightful reminiscences! We were reading the other day about Lady Hanmer, the wife of Sir Thomas Hanmer, the Speak-nounced to the Prince thus: "The Empress signs er, who ran off with Tom Hervey. Sir Thomas did not care much about that, but he was horribly disgusted with Tom, who kept on writing letter after letter to him about "our wife." The three proprietors of Madame Potocki must have had moments of strange perplexity about their wife.
Another of Madame Le Brun's acquaintances had escaped from the prisons of Paris, and arrived at Rome, who is described by her friend, Horace Walpole, as "the pretty, little, wicked Duchesse de Fleury," who seems, like Madame Potocki, to have had relays of husbands always in waiting.
It is of this lady that Madame Le Brun relates the following anecdote: Before the return of the Bourbons, having occasion one day to visit the Emperor Napoleon, he said to her brusquely, 'Do you still love men?' 'Yes, sire, when they are polite,' she replied."
The Bonapartes were not polite, and the readers of these memoirs will contrast the insolent manner of Madame Murat, when sitting for her portrait to Madame Le Brun, with the graciousness of Marie Antoinette.
At Naples Madame Le Brun met Lady Hamilton, and speaks with wonder at the facility she had of expressing in her features either joy or sorrow, and of imitating different persons.
One moment she would be a delightful Bacchante with animated eyes, and hair in disorder, then all at once her face would express sorrow, and you saw a beautiful repentant Magdalen.
At Vienna, as in every other capital in Europe, Madame Le Brun was received in the highest society. Among other friends she was very kindly treated by Prince Kaunitz, the celebrated minister of Maria Theresa. The Prince was then in his eighty-third year. He was a man of
no more." He was always very independent in his manner with Maria Theresa. One day her Majesty began to talk to him about his scandalous mode of life. The Prince promptly replied, "I came here to talk about your Majesty's affairs, not about my own." Madame Le Brun frequently dined with him, and committed the most atrocious fault a guest can commit: she would not, or could not, eat anything, which very much annoyed the Prince. We wonder whether she was witness to that tremendous operation after dinner which is described by Swinburne in his "Courts of Europe":
After dinner the Prince treated us with the cleaning of his gums-one of the most nauseous operalong time, accompanied with all manner of noises. tions I ever witnessed; and it lasted a prodigious He carries a hundred implements in his pocket for this purpose, such as glasses of all sorts for seeing
before and behind his teeth, a whetting steel for his knife, pincers to hold the steel with, knives and scissors without number, and cottons and lawns for wiping his eyes. His whims are innumerable; nothing allusive to the mortality of human nature must ever be rung in his ears. To mention the small-pox is enough to knock him up for the day. . . . The other day he sent a favorite dish of meat as a present to an aunt of his, four years after her decease, and would not have known it but for a blundering servant, who blabbed it to him.
Madame Le Brun's account of the state of society in Russia during the closing days of the Empress Catharine, and the mad reign of Paul, are peculiarly interesting at the present time. Madame Le Brun writes:
Paul was extremely ugly. A flat nose, and a very large mouth, full of long teeth, made him resemble a death's-head.
In the "Memoirs of Madame d'Oberkirch," * Lord Palmerston said the great advantage of this Paris, when they visited France as the Comte who accompanied Paul and his beautiful wife to
kind of marriage would be that it required only one mother-in-law.
From a note-book.
and Comtesse du Nord, the character of the unfortunate Prince is drawn in favorable colors, but
on his advent to the throne it is clear that his and her opinion will perhaps convince some
mind was unhinged.
Madame Le Brun writes:
Once he made me witness a rather curious scene. I had placed a screen behind the Empress, so as to have a stationary background. During one of the pauses, Paul began to cut all sorts of capers, like a monkey: scratching at the screen and pretending to climb over it; this game lasted some time. Alexander and Constantine were evidently grieved at seeing their father behave in such an extraordinary manner before a stranger, and it made me very uncomfortable also.
Madame Le Brun was at Moscow when the murder of Paul was accomplished. At midnight on the 24th of March, in the midst of a group of people, a young noble pulled out his watch, and said, "It must be over now." It was over. Five conspirators, headed by Zouboff, the lover of the Empress Catharine, had entered Paul's sleeping apartment, and murdered him after a desperate resistance.
Madame Le Brun writes:
His body was embalmed and exposed for six weeks on a state, bed, the face uncovered and very little decomposed, for they had put on rouge. The Empress Maria, his widow, went every day and prayed beside this funeral couch; she took her two youngest sons, Nicholas and Michael, with her, who were of such tender years that the former asked her once "why papa was always asleep?"
doubters who imagine that the acting of the Kembles was conventional and unnatural:
I was more fortunate with Mrs. Siddons, whose visit I did not lose; I had seen this celebrated actress for the first time in "The Gamester," and I can not express the pleasure with which I applauded her. I do not believe it possible for any one to possess greater talent for the stage than Mrs. Siddons had; all the English were unanimous in praising her perfect and natural style. The tone of her voice was enchanting; that of Mademoiselle Mars alone at all resembling it; and what above all, to my mind, constituted the great tragedian was the eloquence of her silence.
We have now concluded, although we fear imperfectly, the agreeable task of reviewing such a book as this. It may be gossiping, but then how dull history would be without its gossip! Where did Macaulay procure his wonderful historical portraits but from memoirs like these? From those of Saint-Simon, Grammont, Pepys, and Dangeau, were produced the lifelike characters of Charles II. and Louis XIV. So the future historian will from these "Souvenirs" obtain a picturesque description of that charming society which existed in France in the ancient days. How France has suffered since 1789! Three times has her capital been occupied by foreign armies. Revolution has followed revolution. In 1870 her end seemed at hand. But that is not to be. Always falling over like a
What a reminiscence for the Emperor Nicho- tumbler pigeon, how rapidly she resumes her las!
In 1802 Madame Le Brun paid a visit to England, where she was received with the utmost distinction. Madame Le Brun seems to have found society in London, like its climate, rather dull and oppressive. We give an extract from her journal respecting the great actress of the time. Madame Le Brun was an excellent critic,
flight! The pleasure of this revival to Englishmen is not marred by envy. We are indebted to France for many pleasures of our life, and there is no greater pleasure than in reading the manners and customs of bygone times written in the style of that accomplished artist, Madame Vigée Le Brun.
AN HOUR WITH THACKERAY.
HAD the pleasure of making the personal acquaintance of Mr. Thackeray at Richmond, Virginia, in 1855. A friend, coming into my office one morning, said, "Would you like to call on Mr. Thackeray?" I said "Yes," and I was introduced to Mr. Thackeray in the parlor of his hotel.
The famous author of "Vanity Fair" was quite a lion, as may be supposed, in the "quiet, friendly little city," as he called Richmond; but
I certainly had, personally, no desire whatever to "lionize" him. A natural interest in, and curiosity to meet, so favorite a writer, I felt in common with many others; and perhaps no sentiment is more general than this interest in the writers of fiction especially. There really seems to be an enormous amount of curiosity as to the characters, habits, and modes of living of the "pen - holders," and the fact is not very difficult of explanation. The book which excites a
reader's sympathy is a bond of union between himself and the author. He may admire celebrities in other departments-great soldiers, statesmen, or public speakers-but his favorite authors stand in a closer relation to him. Marlborough and Bolingbroke are nearly forgotten, but the world has not forgotten Addison smoking, out at elbows, in his garret, and Steele, with his wig awry, writing his "Tatlers" on a tavern table, or keeping a keen lookout for the bailiffs. We take but a faint interest in this or that King George, but follow the gay author of "Tom Jones" to the playhouse, where he yawns over his own bad comedies, and laughs when they are hissed; or Goldsmith, in his gorgeous laced coat, to the club; hear Johnson growl as he snubs his friend Boswell; and Coleridge delivering his wonderful monologues at Highgate. A great many famous orators and politicians are mere names to us now, but we hear the friendly laugh of honest Walter Scott at Abbotsford; Lamb stutters out his epigrams; the dapper little figure of Tom Moore slides through the crowd of admiring duchesses to the piano; and Bryon scribbles "Don Juan" in the Italian nights with the glass of gin at his elbow. There seems at first no good reason why the children of the pen should excite so much interest when their contemporaries, filling a far larger space at the time in the world's eye, should be lost sight of; but the interest exists. An authentic anecdote of William Shakespeare would far outweigh one of Queen Elizabeth; and the explanation is that given above-that Hamlet, Ophelia, Falstaff, and the rest appeal directly to the reader's sympathy, and are a bond of union between himself and the author.
Though very far indeed from being a heroworshiper of anybody whatever, I had this interest in and curiosity about Mr. Thackeray, heightened, no doubt, by the fact that I pursued, longo intervallo, the same craft. What impressed me first was the remarkable difference between the real man and the malicious cartoons drawn of him by his English critics. These gentlemen seemed to have dipped their pens in gall before drawing his likeness. Their outlines were bit in with acid. There had never lived, according to them, a more unamiable human being than the author of "Vanity Fair." Persons with any respect for themselves could not endure him. His heart was cold, his disposition cynical, and his manners so haughty and repelling that everybody thrown in contact with him became his enemy. As he strode by, he scarcely deigned to return the salutes of his friends, if he had any. would stare, or respond with a curt nod. He would sit up hobnobbing with intimates until four in the morning, and then pass the same per
sons in the afternoon, as he rode toward the Park, with a movement of the head so cold and indifferent that it quite froze them. He rarely smiled; had nothing about him either natural or inviting; to quote the words of one of his critics, "His bearing is cold and uninviting, his style of conversation either openly cynical or affectedly good-natured and benevolent; his bonhomie is forced, his wit biting, his pride easily touched." As to his character, that was said to be as disagreeable as his manners. He was one mass of gloom and misanthropy. Cynicism was his philosophy, and contempt his religion. Seeing nothing to love or respect in human nature, he pursued his species with merciless ridicule-especially woman. If they were good, they were feeble in intellect; if they possessed brains, they were uniformly vicious-as in the cases of Amelia Sedley and Becky Sharp. Fancying himself the English Juvenal, he had something bitter to say of everybody and everything. A mixture of Timon and Diogenes, he went about with a scowl on his brow and a sneer on his lips, refusing to see good anywhere, and spitting out his hate and venom on the whole human species.
If any reader doubts whether "good old Thackeray," as his friends in this country used to call him, was ever thus painted, he has only to turn over the leaves of certain English periodicals published twenty years ago, where he will find that the warm-hearted gentleman was actually at that time so described. The decorous quarterlies were less personal, but their estimate of the character of his writings was very similar. He took the gloomiest views, they said, of life and his fellow creatures. His pictures of human nature had incontestable force; but, even when truthful as far as they went, were really untruthful from the predominance of shadow and their fatal one-sidedness. Mr. Thackeray, in a word, was a full-blooded cynic, and his books reflected the character of the author.
These criticisms, or rather caricatures, were quite familiar to me when I went to call on Mr. Thackeray that morning in 1855, and I was quite surprised, as I have said, to find how different the real person was from the portraits drawn of him. I saw a tall, ruddy, simple-looking Englishman, who cordially held out his hand, and met me with a friendly smile. There was nothing like a scowl on the face, and it was neither thin, bilious, nor ill-natured, but plump, rubicund, and indicative of an excellent digestion. His voice was neither curt nor ungracious, but courteous and cordial-the voice of a gentleman receiving a friend under his own roof. In person he was a “large man"—his height I think was above six feet. His eyes were mild in expression, his hair nearly gray, his dress plain and unpre