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was burnt at her desire by her devoted friend M. Paul David (a nephew of M. Récamier). Her blindness during the last four years of her life prevented her from reading it over again. She was reluctant to trust to any judgment but her own for selecting what should be saved, and preferred destroying the whole. Perhaps the most interesting, because the most spontaneous, portions of the work are the letters addressed to her by her numerous admirers, whom by a rare alchemy she had transmuted into friends; and we owe many thanks to Madame Lenormant for publishing them, and more particularly for the portrait she has so well traced of Mathieu de Montmorency,-the pearl of the book both for its beauty and rarity.

There are three epochs in Madame Récamier's life. During the two first her own destiny is so influenced by public events, that it is impossible to speak of her without saying a word on the state of France. Like a fine silver thread, her career runs through the web of history, and cannot be drawn out without dragging some shreds of the coarser tissue along with it. Thus from 1796, when Madame Récamier first appeared in public, to 1814, we see France reviving after the Reign of Terror, and submitting to the yoke of Bonaparte. She was then intimate with many both of his family and of his opponents; she was made acquainted with Bernadotte's private opinions, and with Moreau's vacillations, as Napoleon's power grew. We see the general gloom like a leaden mantle weighing down France for twelve years, while the harmless beauty's destiny was crossed and darkened by despotism, like the spirit of the country. During the second epoch (or, as we might call it, act) from 1814 to 1830, her friends were at the height of power: ministers came to her small apartment at the convent, and discussed their measures there; and her attachment to M. de Chateaubriand became the motive and end of all her actions.

In 1830, another revolution overthrew her friends and their whole system. They therefore retired into private life, where they had time for society; and the Abbaye-au-Bois became literary resort, which recalled to mind the salons of ancient France. Many members of the new government mingled with the retired ministers of the last, and many republicans, literary men, and foreigners from all parts of Europe, made a point of being introduced to this last Parisian salon, nor are those who frequented it for eighteen years yet reconciled to the loss of the mental cup of coffee which they sipped every day from four o'clock to six in that cheerful salon. And, as though she were identified with the destinies of France, she died in 1849, a year after the mad whim of a few men, even more vain than ambitious, had overturned what appeared to be the nearest approach to the reasonable liberty which the generous reformers of 1789 had sacrificed their lives to obtain. And sixty years of hard-earned experience ended at last in the most debasing despotism.

Returning to the beginning of Madame Récamier's career, we must make an effort to picture to ourselves the total dislocation of all social order, or we shall never conceive the strange adventures and positions to which every body was reduced during the several years which are properly called the French Revolution. Madame Récamier's are among the strangest. She was born at the end of 1777: her earliest childhood, therefore, belongs to the ancien régime. Her father, M. Bernard, was a notary in the town of Lyons. In 1784, however, he obtained the lucrative place of Receveur des Finances, through the influence of M. de Calonne, then minister of Louis XVI. Madame Bernard was a beauty and also a manager; for Madame Lenormant tells us she increased her fortune by well-calculated speculations. Her only child, Juliette, was left at a convent near Lyons, where she remained till she was about ten years old, when she came to Paris, and was never separated from her mother till the death of the latter. Her beauty and childish grace was already remarkable, and she became the pet of M. de la Harpe and other literary men who frequented the house, which was probably the source of her taste for literary society, to which, more than to her beauty, she owes her lasting celebrity. Madame Bernard, however, attached the greatest importance both to her own charms and her daughter's; and Madame Récamier remembered many years afterwards the fatigue of the hours spent at her toilette.

Among the intimate friends of her mother was M. Jacques Récamier, of a wealthy commercial family near Lyons. He seems to have been a good-natured, jovial man, with an aptitude for making money and spending it, combined with a fancy for quoting Virgil, of easy morality

and very courteous manners. There is something so mysterious, not only in the story of Madame Récamier's marriage, but in the report universally believed, when she was at the height of her fashionable celebrity, that we can only repeat them both, leaving the reader to his own conjectures. She was married in April 1793, that is, three months after the execution of Louis XVI., at the age of fifteen. M. Récamier was a handsome man of forty-three. What was then said, and still continued to be believed, by her contemporaries was, that she was M. Récamier's daughter; and Madame Lenormant's account rather confirms than contradicts it. She says, that she lived solely with her mother for the first two years after her marriage, at which time M. Récamier hired a house at Clichy for his young wife and mother-in-law. In 1793, when she was married, carts were daily dragging the nobles and best people in France to the guillotine. No priest could give sanctity to a marriage ceremony save at the risk of his life; the Goddess of Reason and her fêtes in the street supplanted all Catholic ceremonies. All commerce was at a stand, assignats the only currency: fifty pounds in paper money were often given for a loaf. M. Récamier was a banker, rich for such times; and riches were a sufficient ground of accusation with the Comité du Salut public. Madame Lenormant relates that M. Récamier went every day to see the people guillotined; and that, when thirty years afterwards she asked what could induce him to go to such a painful spectacle, he answered, “I expected each day to share the same fate, and I went that I might prepare myself for it.” In such fearful times, in daily expectation of death, when all the forms of law and religion had disappeared, it is no longer so impossible to comprehend that, if Madame Récamier was his daughter, he might have thought the form of marriage the only chance of securing his fortune to his daughter, and that his death would soon restore her to freedom; besides which, a divorce at that time was so easily obtained, and so common, that you

often met women who had been married four or five times.

Madame Bernard's reputation had little to suffer from this story. It was said that the lucrative place which her husband, a mere provincial notary, had obtained was due to the administration of Calonne. And Madame Lenormant says positively, that the Revolution left her in full possession of her fortune, which she even increased through the protection of Barère, one of the worst of the Terrorists. This protection was very necessary, for M. Bernard was a Royalist, and probably the only Receveur des Finances of Louis XVI. who was not guillotined. This shows that Madame Bernard's clever management was not confined to improving her own fortune, but was extremely useful both to her husband and M. Récamier. If we have dwelt too particularly on this strange story, it has been only to do justice to Madame Recamier's character, and because it was characteristic of the times. It is to show that her peculiar destiny was forced upon her from a child. She once said in her later days to a friend, “I was often very melancholy, for when young I could not properly reconcile myself to my position.”

She certainly never alluded to her marriage. If the story was true,—and many more believe it than deny it,-she would be the last to know it; and if she knew it, since she loved her mother, would be the last to speak of it. She always spoke of M. Récamier as of a kind friend totally uncongenial to her, and of M. Bernard as a father she much loved. But if we accept the


story as the public did, it explains all the anomalies of her life. For the first three or four years after this marriage, Madame Récamier, shy and childish of her age, lived in complete retirement, even through the first fifteen months of the Directory. About 1796, when a little security was reëstablished, a violent love of pleasure, like the high spirits of a convalescent lately escaped from death, seized every one; but as yet there was scarcely a drawing-room to receive company. The finest hotels of the Faubourg St. Germain might be hired for almost nothing; the whole Hôtel de Suisse was let for 241. a year. The funds were down at 5. Then, and long after, a few army contractors and bankers were the only people who had homes fit for the reception of company. The Tuileries gardens in the morning, subscription balls at illuminated gardens, such as Tivoli, where every one could go for three francs, and take a lady for one franc more, were almost the only places where the new society could at first show its beauty and fashion.

It is probable that the keen appetite for all social enjoyment, sharpened by the long privation and terror, war and famine, much increased the effect that the beauty of Madame Récamier produced. The few survivors from those days can scarcely find words to express the rapture she caused to a large and mixed public: all distinctions of rank were not only instantly abolished but forgotten; every one pushed on pell-mell to see the beauty; and some remember being half-crushed to death in the Tuileries by the most suburban crowds, who would have a look at her.

The churches were only just re-opened and frequented, when she was requested to hold the plate for the collection for the poor. Twenty thousand francs were given; certainly more in proportion to the state of people's fortunes then than five times the sum now. The crowd climbed on chairs, on columns; and it was as much as the two gentlemen appointed to protect her could do to prevent her being crushed to death by public curiosity. Mass and charitable collections were as new as they were welcome; as, indeed, was every other symptom of the return to former habits.

The beauties of the Revolution, such as Madame Tallien, &c., had come out at the fêtes of the Republic, where Madame Récamier had never appeared. During these fêtes the most educated and refined portion of the public who had not emigrated lay concealed and terrified. This section saw with joy one of the leaders of the new society come forth on the side of religion, and the solemnities that had seemed lost for ever; and there can be little doubt that her inclination towards this party, whether from her own taste or other circumstances, was very favourable to the position she so soon acquired; for though fashion seems light and capricious, it usually has its source in deeper causes. Longchamps was another of those popular resorts, where a former custom was revived: during three days of Passion-week, from the Place de la Concorde to where now stands the triumphal arch, the finest equipages, the best-drest ladies, and the handsomest young men drove, rode, and walked. The carriages, though not very numerous, were obliged to go at a foot-pace, to allow a full view of the ladies; and Madame Récamier was universally proclaimed the most beautiful.

On the 10th of December 1797, a fête was given to Bonaparte, on his return from Italy, by the Directory, at the Luxembourg. In the court, at the farther end, was a statue of Liberty; the five directors, dressed in Roman costume, were under the statue; ambassadors, ministers, public functionaries, seated on the lowest benches, were all round the court. The public behind them were on raised benches, arranged as in an amphitheatre. The windows were crammed with ladies,-better off than the poor directors, with their bare legs, and their togas like Roman senators, on a December day. The General appeared; to a speech from Talleyrand he answered very tersely, as he was wont; the crowd received his reply with loud acclamations. Madame Récamier was among the spectators in the court, and stood up to get a better view of him, while Barras was making a long oration. Her whole figure was thus displayed; and the crowd, turning their faces towards her, gave her a long cheer of admiration. Bonaparte looked that way to see what took attention from himself; and seeing merely a young woman in white, gave her such a harsh look that she sat down in a fright.

In 1798 M. Récamier, whose fortune rapidly increased, bought a house in the Rue du Mont Blanc, No. 7 (now Chaussée d'Antin), that had belonged to M. Necker. This was the origin of her acquaintance with Madame de Staël, who called on her to speak about it: a fragment of Madame Récamier's journal gives an account of this first interview and of the impression she received. This hotel was repaired and expensively furnished in the Greek style, the fashion of the day. “As luxury had disappeared, all Paris talked of this magnificence, and great was the exaggeration: those who have seen some of the remnants of this furniture can testify to its simplicity, compared to the extravagance of 1859.

Two years before this time, M. Récamier had hired a chateau at Clichy, where he had established his young wife and his motherin-law ; hiniself living at Paris, but driving every day to Clichy to dinner. The most brilliant portion of Madame Récamier's first youth was spent at this house; great balls and fêtes were given in the Rue du Mont Blanc, but all the habitual society

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