吴为山:以雕塑《雷锋》激励新时代“雷锋”

Madame Vige Le Brun

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Nothing but reforms were talked of when Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette came to the throne; but of course everything proposed excited the opposition and ridicule of one party or the other. But the condition of Pauline, brought up in all the luxury and magnificence of the h?tel de Noailles, and suddenly cast adrift in a country the language and habits of which were unknown to her, with very little money and no means of getting more when that was gone, was terrifying indeed. She did not know where anything should be bought, nor what it should cost; money seemed to her to melt in her hands. She consulted her husband, but he could not help her. If she tried to make her own dresses, she only spoilt the material, as one can well imagine. Their three servants, the German boy, a Dutch woman, and after a little while an English nurse, could not understand each other, but managed to quarrel perpetually and keep up the most dreadful chatter. Her child, this time a son, was born on March 30th, Easter Day. She had looked forward to celebrating that festival at [237] the new church then to be opened, at which many of the young people were to receive their first Communion. Pauline, like all the rest of the French community, had been intensely interested and occupied in the preparations. Flowers were begged from sympathising friends to decorate the altar, white veils and dresses were made for the young girls by their friends, all, even those whose faith had been tainted and whose lives had been irreligious, joining in this touching and solemn festival, which recalled to them their own land, the memories of their childhood, and the recollection of those they had lost.

Of these ruffians the most powerful and influential was Robespierre, who, though cruel, treacherous, and remorseless, was severely moral and abstemious, and whose anger was deeply aroused by the reports he received from Bordeaux. Really, she said, this question seems to me very difficult to solve. A Queen go to see the sun rise! I do not know whether in the days of Louis XIV. it would not have been thought

On arriving at Paris she found to her great sorrow that her eldest sister was away. Rosalie de Grammont was there but was ill and suffering, expecting her confinement. Pauline wanted to stay with her till it was over, but Rosalie said that emigration was becoming more difficult and dangerous every day, that those who were going had no time to lose, and that she would not hear of Paulines running any additional risk by delaying her journey for a single day.

Mme. Le Brun generally spent the evening alone with Mme. Du Barry by the fireside. The latter would sometimes talk of Louis XV. and his court, always with respect and caution. But she avoided many details and did not seem to wish to talk about that phase of her life. Mme. Le Brun painted three portraits of her in 1786, 1787, and in September, 1789. The first was three-quarters length, in a peignoir with a straw hat; in the second, painted for the Duc de Brissac, she was represented in a white satin dress, leaning one arm on a pedestal and holding a crown in the other hand. This picture was afterwards bought by an old general, and when Mme. Le Brun saw it many years later, the head had been so injured and re-painted that she did not recognise it, though the rest of the picture was intact.

[220]

Lisette and her mother were turning back, but the Dauphine stopped them, and speaking in the kindest manner to them begged them to continue their walk wherever they liked.

[40]

After a time she went to Milan, where she was received with great honour. The first evening she was serenaded by all the young men of the chief Milanese families, but, not knowing that all this music was on her account, she sat listening and enjoying it with composure, until her landlady came and explained. She made an excursion to the lakes, and on her return to Milan decided to go to Vienna, seeing that France would be out of the question for an indefinite time.

Middle-aged men and women had seen Louis XIV., Louis le Grand, le Roi Soleil, as an old man; old people could remember him in the prime of his life, the most magnificent King with the most stately court in Christendom. The Cardinal de Luynes, the [4] Marchal de Croz, the Duc de Richelieu and other grands seigneurs who preserved the manners and traditions of that time, were looked upon as models of courtly manners and high-breeding by those who complained that in the reaction and licence of the regency and court of Louis XV., vice and corruption were far more unrestrained, more scandalous, less disguised and altogether more indecorous than under the ceremonious and stately rule of his great-grandfather. [3]