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occasionally relates facts tending to injure | agency of the infamous Barrère. Barrère's Madame Récamier, but it is plain to be seen cruelty was equalled only by his profligacy, bis that she herself is totally unconscious of the cunning by, his selfishness. Macaulay said of nature and tendency of these disclosures. him that he approached nearer than any person Upon the publicatiou of her book these in- mentioned in history or fiction, whether man or discretions excited the displeasure of Madame devil, to the idea of consummate and total Récamier's warm personal friends. One of depravity;" and everybody must remember the them, Madam Möbl, by birth an Englishwoman, famous comparison by which he illustrated undertook her defence. This lady corrects a Barrère's faculty of lying. But even taking a few slight inaccuracies of the “ Souvenirs," and much milder view of Barrère's character, it is a since she cannot controvert its more important matter of history by what terms the unfortunate facts, she attempts to explain them. Her victims of the Revolution purchased of him their sketch* of Madame Récamier is pleasaat from own lives and those of their friends, and it is its personal recollections, but far inferior to one certain that his friendship and protection were by Sainte-Beuve, † wbich is eminently signifi- no honour to any woman. This view of their cant. Neither as sources of information can intimacy is confirmed by Madame Möhl. In supply the place of the more voluminous and speaking of a rumour current in Madame explicit “Souvenirs.” It is a little singular Recamier's lifetime which reflected severely upon that this work has not been translated into her mother, she says that Madame Bernard's English, for, in spite of its lack of method, its reputation had nothing to lose by this story, and diffuseness and disproportionate developments, mentions the favours she received at the hands it is very attractive and interesting; it is also both of Calonne and Barrère. highly valuable for its large collection of letters Juliette Bernard was ten years old when she from distinguished people. In the sketch we joined her parents in Paris, where she was propose to make of Madame Récamier's life placed under the care of masters. we shall rely mainly upon it for our facts, giving with skill on the harp and piano, and being in connection our own view of her character passionately fond of music, it became her solace and career.
and amusement at an advanced age. In her The beauty which first won celebrity for youth dancing was equally a passion with her ; Madame Récamier was hers by inheritance. the grace with which she executed the shawl. Her father was a remarkably handsome man, dance suggested to Madame de Staël the dancebut a person of narrow capacity, who owed his scene in “ Corinne." It is said that great care advancement in life solely to the exertions of was bestowed upon her education, but as it is his more capable wife. Madame Bernard was also stated that long hours were passed at the a beautiful blonde; she was lively and spirituelle toilet, that she was the pet of all her mother's coquettish and designing. Through her in- friends, who, as proud of her daughter's beauty fluence with Calonne, minister under Louis as she was of her own, took her constantly to the XVI., Monsieur Bernard was made Receveur theatre and public assemblies, little time could des Finances. _Upon this appointment in 1784 bave been devoted to systematic instruction. they came to Paris, leaving their only child, There is no mention made throughout her life of Juliette, then seven years old, at Lyons in the any favourite studies or favourite books, and she care of an aunt, though she was soon after- was, moreover, married at fifteen. wards placed in a convent where she remained
Monsieur Récamier was forty-four years old three years. Monsieur and Madame Bernard's when he proposed for the band of Juliette style of living in Paris was both elegant and Bernard ; she accepted him without either generous. Their house became the resort of reluctance or distrust.
Much sympathy Las the Lyonnese and also of literary men, the been lavished upon Madame Récamier on latter being especially courted by Madame account of this marriage, and her extreme youth Bernard. But, though seemingly given up to is urged as an excuse for this false step of her life of gaiety and pleasure, she did not neglect | life ; still she did not take it blindly. Her her own interests ; her cleverness was of the mother thought it her duty to lay before her all Becky-Sharp order ; she knew how to turn the the objections to a union where there existed admiration she excited to her own advantage. such a disparity of age; no undue influence was Having a faculty for business she engaged in exerted, therefore, in favour of the marriage; successful speculations and amassed a fortune, nor was Mademoiselle Bernard as unsophisticated which she carried safely through the Reign of as French girls usually are at that age. Her Terror ; this is the more remarkable as Monsieur childhood had not been passed in seclusion ; Bernard was a known Royalist. He and his since she was ten years old she had been family and his wife's friends escaped not only constantly in the society of men of letters and death but also persecution ; and Madame Lenor- men of the world. Under such influences girls mant attributes this rare good fortune to the ripen early, and in marrying Monsieur Récamier
she at least realized all her expectations. She
did not look for mutual affection, she expected * Madame Récamier, with a Sketch of the History to find in him a generous and indulgent protector, of Society in France. By Madame M-- London, and this anticipation was not disappointed; if 1862.
she discovered too late that she had other and + Causeries de Lundi.
greater needs she was deeply to be pitied, bu
the responsibility of the step must remain with sided with her mother. Her husband only her. Madame Lenormant says of the union, “It dined there, driving into Paris every night. was simply an apparent one; Madame Récamier She was very fond of flowers, and filled her was a wife only in name. This fact is astonish- rooms with them. At that time floral decoraing. But I am not bound to explain it, only to tions were a novelty, and another attraction was attest its truth, which all of Madame Récamier's added to the charms of Clichy. Not only there, friends can confirm. Monsieur Récamier's but in society, Madame Récamier reigned a relations to his wife were strictly of a paternal queen. She had been pronounced by acclamacharacter ; he treated the young and innocent tion "the most beautiful," and she enjoyed her child who bore his name as a daughter whose triumphs with all the gaiety and freshness of beauty charmed him and whose celebrity flattered youth. Madame Lenormant asserts that she his vanity."
was unconscious of her beauty; and yet, with As an explanation of these singular relations, an amusing inconsistency, she adds that MaMadame Möhl states that it was the general be- dame Récamier always dressed in white and lief of Madame Récamier's contemporaries that wore pearls in preference to other jewels, that she was the own daughter of Monsieur Récamier, the dazzling whiteness of her skin might eclipse whom the unsettled state of the times had in their softness and purity. It was, in fact, imduced him to marry;
but there is not a possible to be unconscious of a beauty so rashadow of evidence in support of this hypothe- vishing that it intoxicated all beholders. At the sis, though, to make it more probable, Madame theatre, at the promenade, at public assemblies, Möhl adds, that “Madame Lenormant rather she was followed by admiring throngs. confirms than contradicts this rumour.” In “She was sensible," writes one who knew this she is strangely mistaken. Madame Lenor- her well, “ of every look, every word of admant does not allude to the report at all. Still miration-the exclamation of a child or a she tacitly contradicts it. Her account of Mon- woman of the people, equally with the declarasieur Récamier's course with regard to the di- tion of a prince. In crowds from the side of vorce proposed between him and his wife is of her elegant carriage, which advanced slowly, itself a sufficient refutation of this idle story. she thanked each for his admiration by a mo
Monsieur Récamier was a tall, vigorous, tion of the head and a smile." handsome man, of easy, agreeable manners. As an instance of the effect she produced, Perfectly polite, he was deficient in dignity, and Madame Lenormant gives the testimony of a preferred the society of his inferiors to that of contemporary, Madame Regnauld de Sainthis equals. He wrote and spoke Spanish with Jean d'Angely, who, talking over her own fluency, had some knowledge of Latin, and was beauty, and that of other women of her youth, fond of quoting Horace and Virgil. " It would named Madame Récamier. “Others," she be difficult to find,” says his niece, “a heart said, “were more truly beautiful, but none promore generous than his, more easily moved, and duced so much effect. I was in a drawingyet more volatile. Let a friend need his time, room where I charmed and captivated all eyes. his money, his advice, it was immediately at Madame Récamier entered. The brilliancy of his service; but let that same friend be taken her eyes, which were not, however, very large, away by death, he would scarcely give two days the inconceivable wbiteness of her shoulders, to regret. “Encore un tiroir fermé,” he would crushed and eclipsed everybody. She was resay, and there would end his sensibility. Ale splendent. At the end of a moment, however, ways ready to give and willing to serve, he was the true amateurs returned to me.” a good companion, and benevolent and gay in It was not her own countrymen alone who his temper. He carried his optimism to excess
, raved about her beauty. The sober-minded and was always content with everybody and English people were quite as much impressed. everything. He had fine natural abilities, and when she visited England, during the short the gift of expression, being a good story- peace of Amiens, she created intense excitement. teller.” He was married in 1793, the most The journals recorded her movements, and on gloomy period of the Reign of Terror, and went one occasion, in Kensington Gardens, the crowd every day to see the executions, wishing, he was so great that she narrowly escaped being said, to familiarize himself with the fate he had crushed. At the Opera she was obliged to steal every reason to fear would be his own.
away early to avoid a similar annoyance, and The first four years of her marriage were then barely succeeded in reaching her carriage. passed by Madame Récamier" in retirement, Chateaubriand tells us that her portrait, enbut when the government was settled under the graved by Bartolozzi, and spread throughout Consulate she mingled freely and gaily in so- England, was carried thence to the isles of ciety. This was probably the happiest period Greece. Ballanche, remarking on this circumof ber life. Her husband was at the height of stance, said that it was beauty returning to financial prosperity, and lavished every luxury the land of its birth.” upon his beautiful wife. Both their country- Years after, when the Allied Sovereigns were seat at Clichy and their town-house in the Rue in Paris, and Madame Récamier thirty-eight Mont Blanc were models of elegant taste. years old, the effect of her beauty was just as Large dinner-parties and balls were given at striking. Madame de Krudener, celebrated for the latter, but all the intimate friends went to her mysticism and the power she exerted over the Cliçby, where Madame Récamior chiefly re. Emperor Alexander, then held nightly réunions,
beginning with prayer and ending in a more the burdens and perplexities of life. All her worldly fashion. Madame Récamier's entrance wishes were gratified before they were fairly always caused distraction, and Madame de expressed, and she had neither anxieties nor Krudener commissioned Benjamin Constant to write and beseech her to be less charming. As Her first vexation came with her first lover. this piquant note will lose its favour by trans- It was in the spring of 1799 that Madame lation, we give it in the original :
Récamier met Lucien Bonaparte at a dinner. “Je m'acquitte avec un peu d'embarras d'une He was then twenty-four, apd she twenty-two. commission que Mme. de Krüner vient de me He asked permission to visit her at Clichy, and donner. Elle vous supplie de venir la moins made his appearance there the next day. He belle que vous pourrez. Elle dit que vous first wrote to her, declaring his love, under the éblouissez tout le monde, et que par là toutes name of Romeo, and she, taking advantage of les âmes sont troublées, et toutes les attentions the subterfuge, returned his letter in the preimpossibles. Vous ne pouvez pas déposer sence of other friends, with a compliment on votre charme, mais ne le rehaussez pas." its cleverness, while she advised him not to waste
Madame Récamier's personal appearance at his ability on works of imagination, when it eighteen is thus described by her niece: could be so much better employed in politics.
"A figure flexible and elegant; neck and Lucien was not thus to be repulsed. He then shoulders admirably formed and proportioned ; addressed her in his own name, and she showed a well-poised head ; a small rosy mouth, pearly the letters to her husband, and asked his teeth, charming arms, though a little small, advice. Monsieur Récamier was more politic and black hair that curled naturally; a nose than indignant. His wife wished to forbid delicate and regular, but “bien français," and Lucien the house, but he feared that such exan incomparable brilliancy of complexion; a treme measures toward the brother of the First countenance full of candour, and sometimes Consul might compromise, if not ruin, bis beaming with mischief, which the expression of bank. He therefore advised her neither to engoodness rendered irresistibly lovely. There courage nor repulse him. Lucien continued was a shade of indolence and pride in her ges- his attentions for a year, the absurd emphasis tures, and what St. Simon said of the Duchess of his manners at times amusing Madame Réof Burgundy is equally applicable to her : ‘Her camier, while at others his violence excited her step was that of a goddess on the clouds.' fears. At last, becoming conscious that he
Madame Récamier retained her beauty longer was making himself ridiculous, he gave up the than is usual even with Frenchwomen, nor did pursuit in despair. Some time after he had disshe seek to repair it by any artificial means. continued his visits he sent a friend to demand “She did not struggle," says Sainte-Beuve ; his letters; but Madame Récamier refused to "she resigned herself gracefully to the first give them up. He sent a second time, adding touch of Time. She understood that, for one menace to persuasion; but she was firm in her who had enjoyed such success as a beauty, to refusal. It was rumoured that Lucien was a seem yet beautiful was to make no pretensions. favoured lover, and he was anxious to be so A friend who had not seen her for many years considered. His own letters were the strongest complimented her upon her looks. 'Ab, my proof to the contrary, and as such they were dear friend,' she replied, 'it is useless for me to kept and guarded by Madame Récamier. But deceive myself. From the moment I noticed the unpleasant gossip to which his attentions that the little Savoyards in the street no longer gave rise was a source of great annoyance to turned to look at me, I comprehended that all her. was over.'"
It was at a fête given by Lucien that Madame There is pathos in this simple acknowledg- Récamier had her first and only interview with ment, this quiet renunciation. Was it the result the First Consul. On entering the drawingof secret struggles which taught her that all room she mistook him for his brother Joseph, regret was vain, and that to contrast the present and bowed to him. He returned her salutation with the past was but a useless and torturing with empressement mingled with surprise. thing for a woman? But at the time of which Looking at her closely, he spoke to Fouché, we write Madame Récamier had no sad realities who leaned over her chair and whispered, “The to ponder. She was surrounded by admirers, First Consul finds you charming." When with the liberty which French society accords Lucien approached, Napoleon, who was no to married women, and the freedom of heart of stranger to his brother's passion, said aloud, a young girl. She was still content to be " And I, too, should like to go to Clichy !" simply admired. She understood neither the When dinner was announced he rose and left world nor ber own heart. Her life was too gay the room alone, without offering his arm to any for reflection, nor had the time arrived for it-- lady. As Madame Récamier passed out, Eliza “all analysis comes late.” It is not until we (Madame Bacciocchi), who did the honours in have in a measure ceased to be actors, and have the absence of Madame Lucien, who was inaccepted the more passive rôle of spectators, disposed, requested her to take the seat next that we begin to reflect upon ourselves and to the First Consul. Madame Récamier did upon life. And Madame Récamier had not tired not understand her, and seated herself at a of herself or of the world. She was too young little distance, and on Cambacères, the Second to be heart-weary, and ghe knew nothing yet of Consul, occupying the seat by her side, Napo, leon exclaimed, "Ah, ah, citoyen consul, au- her at the house of the Princess Caroline, who près de la plus belle!” He ate very little and added her persuasions to his. The conversation very fast, and at the end of half-an-hour left turning on Talma, who was then performing at the table abruptly, and returned to the drawing the French theatre, the Princess put her box, room. He afterwards asked Madame Réca. which was opposite the Emperor's, at Madame mier why she had not sat next to him at din- Récamier's disposal; she used it twice, and each ner. “I should not have presumed,” she said. time the Emperor was present, and kept his “It was your place,” he replied. And his sis- glass so constantly in her direction that it was ter added, "That was what I said to you be- generally remarked, and it was reported, that fore dinner.” A concert following, Napoleon she was on the eve of high favour. Upon stood alone by the piano, but, not fancying the further persistence on the part of Fouché, instrumental part of the performance, at the end Madame Récamier gave him a decided refusal. of a piece by Jadin, he struck on the piano and He was vehemently indignant, and left Clichy cried, “Garat ! Garat !” who then sang a scene never to return thither. In the St. Helena Mefrom “Orpheus.”
morial, Napoleon attributes Madame Récamier's Music always profoundly moved Madame rejection of his overtures to personal resentment Récamier, but whenever she raised her eyes she on account of her father. In 1800 Monsieur found those of the Consul fixed upon her with Bernard had been appointed “ Administrateur so much intensity that she became uncomfort, des postes;" being implicated in a Royalist able. After the concert he came to her, and conspiracy, he was imprisoned, but finally set at said, “You are very fond of music, madame," liberty through the intercession of Bernadotte. and would probably have continued the conver- Napoleon believed that Madame Récamier resation had not Lucien interrupted.
sented her father's removalfrom office, but she was Mada:ne Recamier confessed that she was too thankful at his release to expect any furtber prepossessed by Napoleon at this interview. favours. Her dislike of the Emperor was caused She was evidently gratified by his attentions, by his treatment of her friends, more particuscanty and slight as they seem to us. Indeed, larly of the one dearest to her, Madame de Staël. his whole conduct during the dinner and con- The friendship between these women was cert was decidedly discourteous, if not posi- highly honourable to both, though the sacrifices tively rude.
were chiefly on Madame Récamier's side; she Madame Lenormant attributes Napoleon's espoused Madame de Staël's cause with zeal subsequent attempt to attach Madame Réca- and earnestness, and when the latter was mier to his court to the strong impression she banished forty leagues from Paris she found an made upon him at this interview, and gives asylum with her. Among the few fragments Fouché as her authority. Still, if this were the of autobiography preserved by Madame Lenorcase, it is rather strange that Napoleon did not mant is this account of the first interview follow up the acquaintance more speedily. It between the friends. was not until five years afterwards that he made “One day, which I count an epoch in my the overtures to which Madame Lenormant | life, Monsieur Récaraier arrived at Clichy refers, and then Madame Récamier had long with a lady whom he did not introduce, but been in the ranks of the Opposition. It was whom he left alone with me while he joined Napoleon's policy to conciliate, if possible, his some other persons in the park. This lady political opponents. He had succeeded in gain. came about the sale and purchase of a house. ing over Bernadotte, of whose intrigues against Her dress was peculiar. She wore a morninghim Madame Récamier had been the confi- robe and a little dress-hat decorated with dante, and he concluded that she could be as ea- flowers. I took her for a foreigner, and was sily won. He accordingly sent Fouchéto her, who struck with the beauty of her eyes and of her after several preliminary visits, proposed that expression; I cannot analyse my sensations, she should apply for a position at court. As but it is certain I was more occupied in divining Madame Récamier did not heed his suggestion, who she was than in paying her the usual he spoke more openly. “He protested that the courtesies when she said to me, with a lively place would give her entire liberty, and then, and penetrating grace, that she was truly seizing with finesse upon the inducements most enchanted to know me; that her father, powerful with a generous spirit, he dwelt upon Monsieur Necker
At these words I the eminent services she might render to the recognized Madame de Staël! I did not hear oppressed of all classes, and also the good in the rest of her sentence. I blushed; my Auence so attractive a woman would exert over embarrassment was extreme. I had just read the inind of the Emperor. 'He has not yet,' with enthusiasm her letters on Rousseau, and I he added, “found a woman worthy of him, and expressed what I felt more by my looks than by no one knows what the love of Napoleon would my words ; she intimidated and attracted me be, if he attached himself to a pure person- at the same time. I saw at once that she was assuredly she would obtain a power over him a perfectly natural person of a superior nature; which would be entirely beneficent."" If Ma- she, on her side, fixed upon me her great black dame Récamier listened with politic calmness to eyes, but with a curiosity full of benevolence ; these disgraceful overtures, she gave Fouché no and paid me compliments which would have encouragement. But he was not easily dis- seemed too exaggerated had they not appeared couraged. He planned another interview with I to escape her, thus giving to her words an
irresistible seduction. My embarrassment did | and pure satisfaction of work well done they me no injury; she understood it, and expressed were for the time extinguished. Madame a wish to see more of me on her return to Récamier, though beautiful and beloved, had Paris, as she was then on the eve of starting no such precious compensations; she depended for Coppet. She was at that time only an for her happiness upon her friends, and they apparition in my life, but the impression was a who rely upon others for their chief enjoyments lively one; I thought only of Madame de must meet with bitter and deep disappointStaël, I was so much affected by her strong ments. Madame Récamier had great triumphs and ardent nature."
which secured to her moments of rapture; The sweet serenity of Madame Récamier's when the crowd worshipped her beauiy she nature soothed the more restless and tumul- probably experienced the same delirium of tuous spirit of her friend; the unaffected venera- joy, the same momentary exultation that a tion, too, of one 80 beautiful touched and prima donna feels when called before an gratified the woman of genius. Still, this excited and enthusiastic audience; but satiety intimacy was not unmixed with bitterness for and chagrin surely follow such triumphs, and Madame de Staël, but it troubled only her own she lived to feel their hollowness. heart, not the common friendship. She con- In a letter to her adopted daughter she says : tinually contrasted Madame Récamier's beauty I hope you will be more happy than I have with her own plain appearance, her friend's been;" and she confessed to Sainte-Beuve that power of fascination with her own lesser faculty more than once in lier most brilliant days, in of interesting, and she repeatedly declared that the midst of fêtes where she reigned a queen, Madame Récamier was the most enviable of she disengaged herself from the crowd surroundhuman beings. But in comparing the lives of ing her and retired to weep in solitude. Surely the two as they now appear to us, Madame de so sad a woman was not to be envied. Staël seems the more fortunate; if her married Another friend of Madame Récamier's youth, life was uncongenial she had children to love whose friendship in a marked degree influenced and cherish to whom she was fondly attached. her life, was Matthieu de Montmorency; he Madame Récamier was far more isolated; years was seventeen years older than she, and may bad made her entirely independent of her with emphasis be termed her best friend. Á husband, and she had no children upon whom devout "Roman-catholic, he awakened and to lavish the wealth of her affection. Her strengthened her religious convictions, and mother's death left her comparatively alone in constantly warned her of the perils surrounding the world, for she had neither brother nor sister, her. Much as he evidently admired and loved and her father seems to have had but little hold her he did not hesitate to utter unwelcome on her heart, all her love being lavished on her truths; Vicomte, afterward Duc de Montmother; she had a host of friends it is true, but morency, belonged to one of the oldest families the closest friendship is but a poor substitute of France, but espousing the Revolutionary for the natural ties of affection. Both these cause, he was the first to propose the abolition women sighed for what they had not; the one of the privileges of the nobility. He was yearned for love, the other for the liberty of married early in life to a woman without beauty, loving. Madame Récamier was dependent for to whom he was profoundly indifferent, and her enjoyments on society, while Madame de soon separated from her, though from family Staël had rich and manifold resources within motives the tie was renewed in after-years. In herself which no caprice of friends could his youth he had been gay and dissipated, but materially affect and no reverse of fortune the death of a favourite brother, who fell a impair; her poetic imagination and creative victim to the Revolution, changed and sobered thought were inexhaustible treasures. Solitude him; from an over-sensibility he believed bimcould never be irksome to her; her genius self to be the cause of bis brother's death on brought with it an inestimable blessing; it gave account of the part he had taken in hastening her a purpose in life, consequently she was the Revolution, and he strove to atone for this never in want of occupation; and if at intervals mistake, as well as for his youthful follies, by a she bitterly felt that heart-loneliness which Mrs. life of austerity and piety. While his letters Browning has so touchingly expressed in verse, testify his great affection for Madame Récamier
they are entirely free from those lover-like “My father!' thou bast knowledge, only thou !
protestations and declarations of eternal fidelity How dreary 'tis for women to sit still
80 characteristic of her other masculine corresOn winter nights by solitary fircs,
pondents; he always addressed her as amiable And hear the nations praising them far off,
amie," and his nearest approach to gallantry is Too far! ay, praising our quick sense of love, the expression of a hope that "in prayer their Our very heart of passionate womanhood,
thoughts bad often mingled and might continue Which could not beat so in the verse without
80 to do." He ends a long letter of religious Being present also in the unkissed lips,
counsel with this grave warning: “Do what is And eyes uodried because there's none to ask
good and amiable, what will not rend the The reason they grow moist,"
heart or leave any regrets behind. But in the
name of God renounce all that is unworthy of in the excitement and ardour of composition you, and which under no circumstances can ever bueh feelings slumbered, while in the honest I render you happy."