类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-12-04 15:57:33


[451]After a few days at Parma, Lisette went on to Modena, Bologna, and Florence, under the escort of the Vicomte de Lespignière, a friend of M. de Flavigny, whose carriage kept close behind her own. As M. de Lespignière was going all the way to Rome—a journey not very safe for a woman with only a governess and child—this was an excellent arrangement; and they journeyed on pleasantly enough through Italy; the calm, sunny days, the enchanting scenes through which they passed, the treasures of art continually lavished around them, the light-hearted courtesy of the lower classes, the careless enjoyment and security of their present surroundings, contrasting strangely with the insolence and discomfort, the [92] discontent and bitterness, the gloom and terror from which they had so recently escaped.But all kinds of stories were in circulation about her, which, of course, she indignantly denied. One of them concerned the marriage she now made for her second daughter with M. de Valence, a man of [406] high rank, large fortune, and remarkably bad character, who, moreover, had been for years, and continued to be, the lover of her aunt, Mme. de Montesson. It was positively declared that the Duke of Orléans, going unexpectedly into the room, found Valence on his knees before Mme. de Montesson, who with instant presence of mind, exclaimed—

The Conciergerie was crowded, but one of the prisoners, Mme. Laret, gave up her bed to the old Maréchale; Mme. d’Ayen laid herself upon a pallet on the floor, and the Vicomtesse, saying, “What is the use of resting on the eve of eternity?” sat all night reading, by the light of a candle, a New Testament she had borrowed, and saying prayers.For the former reason she spent some time at Raincy, [25] then the residence of the Duke of Orléans, father of Philippe-égalité, where she painted his portrait, and that of his morganatic wife, Mme. de Montesson. While she was there the old Princesse de Conti came one day to see Mme. de Montesson, and much to her surprise always addressed Mme. Le Brun as “Mademoiselle.” As it was shortly before the birth of her first child, this rather startled her, and she then recollected that it [62] had been the custom in former days for grandees of the court so to address their inferiors. It was a survival that she never met with but upon this occasion, as it had quite come to an end with Louis XV. Mme. Le Brun never cared to stay at Raincy, which she found uncongenial; but she delighted in several of the other chateaux where she stayed, above all in Chantilly, where the Prince de Condé gave the most magnificent fêtes, and where the grandeur of the chateau and the beauty of the gardens, lakes, and woods fascinated her.

“My mother, worthy to be the wife of the Dauphin ... was, like him, good, pious, indulgent, attached to her duties, caring only for the happiness of others, loving the French as her own family. Her character, naturally grave and melancholy, was not without a gentle gaiety, which lent her an additional charm.... With all the philosophy of which some narrow minds have accused me as of a crime ... I have sometimes found myself, in the midst of great calamities, invoking the holy spirit of my mother and that of my august father.” [57]

On one occasion the Duc de Richelieu so far departed from his usual habit as to recommend to the Duc de Fronsac a lad who bore a strong resemblance to himself, begging him to give him a post in his household and look after him. Fronsac, struck with jealousy of this protégé of his father’s, did all he could to corrupt and ruin him, taught him to be a gambler and reprobate, and finally led [379] him into collision with himself in some love intrigue, challenged him to a duel, and killed him.Nobody ever saw the tapestry in question because it did not exist, and Louis XV., speaking of the story, said scornfully, “Have there ever been such things as tapestries chez les Montmorin?”

But as the size and grandeur of such a residence was no longer suitable to the altered fortunes of its master, he sold it, and only occupied the part called the petit h?tel de Noailles, where Mme. de Montagu also had an apartment.[56]

Still they waited and hoped, as week after week went by. Early in the spring affairs had looked more promising. The coalition against France had formed again under the influence of England. La Vendée and Bretagne had risen, supported by insurrections all over the South of France. Lyon, Toulon, Bordeaux, even Marseilles, and many districts in the southern provinces were furnishing men and arms to join in the struggle. But gradually the armies of the Republic gained upon them, the [239] south was a scene of blood and massacre, and the last hopes of the Royalists were quenched with the defeat of the heroic Vendéens at Savenay (December 23, 1793).

“‘Bonjour, Proven?al,’ [88] he said. ‘You are looking very well, and that is so much the better, ma foi! for it has never been of more importance to you. You are going to be married.’

Mme. de Valence seems to have accepted the situation, but by no means with the Griselda-like “satisfaction” of her sister. Very soon her reputation much resembled that of her husband, and many were the anecdotes told to illustrate the manners and customs of their ménage.Most of the servants were bribed by the Jacobins to spy upon their masters, and knew much better than they what was going on in France. Many of [111] them used to go and meet the courrier who told them much more than was contained in the letters he brought. After having lived two years and a half in Italy, chiefly in Rome, Mme. Le Brun began to think of returning to France.


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[110]Though he painted this portrait in haste, with tears in his eyes, it was one of the best ever done by Isabey. [35]



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