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Influence of women-Talleyrand, Bonaparte, and Louis
XVIII.-Female influence at the time of the Restoration-Madame Roland and Madame de Staël-Share of women in public affairs — Their importance in French history-Their assumption of the masculine character-Female Aides-de-camp-A lady-duellist Contrast between French women and English women -Influence of domestic habits—Moral phenomenonNew doctrine of masculine obedience-Female disputants—Le Royaume des Femmes-Policy of encouraging the development of female intelligence, and the exaltation of female principle.
I HAVE just been speaking of influences, partly created by history, partly by national character--and which, rooted deep into the past, must extend over the future. One of these influences, I said, when I was on the subject of gallantry, that I should again speak of—I mean the influence of women. Not even the revolution of 1789-not even those terrible
who shivered a sceptre of eight centuries to atomsnot even the storm which overthrew the throne of the Capets, and scattered over Europe the priests and the proud nobility of France--not the excesses of the Girondists, the Dantonists, and the triumvirate—not the guillotine, not the dungeon, not the prison, not the scaffold, not the law-not the decrees which cut up the provinces of France into departments, and the estates of France into farms - none of these great changes and instruments of change affected an empire exclusive to no class, which had spread from the Tuileries to the cottage, and which was not so much in the hearts as in the habits of the French people. Beneath no wave of the great deluge, which in sweeping over old France fertilized new France-beneath no wave of that great deluge, sank the presiding landmark of ancient manners;-and, on the first ebbing of the waters, you saw -the boudoir of Madame Récamier, and the bal des victimes.'
Monsieur de Talleyrand comes from America in want of employment; he finds it in the • salon' of Madame de Staël. Bonaparte, born for a military career, commenced it under the gentle auspices of Madame de Beauharnais. Even Louis the Eighteenth himself, that fat, and aged, and clever monarch, bestowed more pains* on writing his pretty little billets-doux than he had ever given to the dictation of the Charta.
* When Bonaparte entered the Tuileries, during the hundred days, he found many of these little billets, and a large collection of Louis's interesting correspondence. The Emperor would not hear of their being read or published.
There was a back way to the Council Chamber, which even his infirmities did not close; and many were the gentle lips, as some persons have confessed to me, that murmured over
amo,' in its different moods and tenses, in the vain hope of rivalling Mesdames P *** and D * * * in the classical affections of this royal and lettered gallant.
It was under this influence, indeed, that the unfortunate King succumbed : as it was with this influence that many of the faults, as well as many
of the Restoration were combined.
“ In 1815, after the return of the King, says a late author, “ the drawing-rooms of Paris had all the life and brilliancy which distinguished them in the old régime.' It is hardly possible to conceive the ridiculous, and oftentimes cruel, sayings which were circulated in these pure and elegant saloons. The Princesse de la Trémouille, Mesdames d'Escars, de Rohan, and de Duras, were the principal ladies at this time who ruled in the Faubourg St. Germain. With them you found the noble youth of the old families in France; the generals of the allied armies; the young women exalted in their ideas of loyalty and loyal devotion ; the
more elderly ladies, celebrated in that witty and courtly clique for the quickness of their repartees, and the graces of their conversation; the higher functionaries of the Tuileries ; the prelates and peers of France;-and it was amidst the business of whist and the amorous whisperings of intrigue, that these personages discussed the means to bring back the olden monarchy, and to restore the reign of religion.
“ There was, more especially among the women, an ardour for change, a passion for the divine rights of legitimacy, which blended naturally with their adulterous tendernesses in favour of a handsome mousquetaire, or a well-grown lieutenant of the garde royale.' Then it was that, with their nerves excited by love, they called for proscriptions, for deaths, for the blood of Ney and Labédoyère! What must have been the violence of parties, when a young and beautiful female applauded the massacres of the South, and associated herself in thought with the assassins of Ramel and Lagarde !"
But if the women in France exercise, and sometimes exercise so fatally, a greater infuence than, since the time of the Babylonians and the Egyptians, they have been known to exercise elsewhere-no country has yet produced a race of women so remarkable, or one which affords history so many great names and great examples. I might take the reader back to the times of chivalry — but with these times the manners of our own may hardly be said to mingle. Let us look, then, at the annals of these very days! Who was the
most dreaded by the Mountain? Who was the rival that disputed empire with Napoléon - Madame Roland and Madame de Staël. These two women - alone, without fortune, without protection, save that of their own talent — boldly vindicated the power of the mind, before its two most terrible adversaries, and have triumphed with posterity even over the guillotine and the sword. There is an energy, a desire for action, a taste and a capacity for business, among the females of France, the more remarkable— from the elegance, the grace, the taste for pleasure and amusement, with which this sterner nature is combined.
From the very moment that women were admitted into society in France, they have claimed their share in public affairs.
From the time of Francis the First, when they established their influence in the court, up to the present moment, when they are disputing the actual possession of the Bar and the Chamber of Deputies, they have never shrunk from a contest with their bearded competitors. Excluded from the throne and sceptre by the laws, they