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Chateaubriand and Ballanche have made the "little-cell where they gained so much inspiration for their work famous in literature. It was here that she lived the last thirty years of her life, when the youthful bloom of her beauty had passed away only to increase the attachment of her friends. The formalities of social life were laid aside; the daily visitors were not even announced. They were for the most part the literary personalities of the time, and frequently the books that afterwards became classic received their first applause from the select circle at the Abbaye-aux-Bois. Here Lamartine read his “Meditation;" Delphine Gay her first poems, and Rachel frequently recited. Occasionally Madame Récamier herself would add to the entertainment, for she possessed a charming voice and played the harp and piano with the feeling of a genuine musician. Of course the greatest charm consisted in the conversation, for which she possessed the tact and brightness of the true Frenchwoman. She was well read in literature and had a deep religious feeling, so that the talk was more than the clever and idle sayings of a brilliant company. Her connection with the outside world was slight; she left the Abbaye only when some charity required her presence or when her feeble health necessitated a change. The world did not forget her however, and distinguished foreigners such as Sir Humphrey Davy, Humboldt, Maria Edgeworth and Miss Berry were warmly welcomed. All felt the “penetrating, indefinable charm” that Madame Swetchine was at last forced to admit and it is a remarkable tribute to her kindness that all the rivalries that she must have aroused have left no jealous sting upon the purity of her character.
But the most famous of all her admirers and the one with whom her friendship becomes ideal is the capricious author of the Génie du Christianisme. It was at the deathbed of Madame de Stael that she first met Chateaubriand, upon whose life she was to exert so gracious an influence. He was in the full prime of his powers; was recognized as the first writer of his day and the rising statesman of France, was courted and petted by all, particularly the feminine world. Such attentions were dangerous to one of his susceptible mind and the traits of his somewhat unlovely character show themselves in the first letters that he wrote to Madame Récamier. It is doubtful if he ever cared anything for any woman until he met his aimable amie, but his affection for her was genuine, and forms a pleasing relief to the absurd vanity and selfishness of which we have so many instances. It is pleasant to read the political schemes that he formed to get an appointment to the Congress of Verona, and then hear his confession to his correspondent that all this intriguing was only that he might leave his embassy at London and spend a few hours at her side! From the midst of all his desires for worldly advancement there comes a true and almost despairing cry, “O that I were in the little cell!" While away from her he wrote constantly, confided to her his secret ambitions, sought her advice, turned to her when in those melancholy moods that but for her would have ended in the despair of his own René. The busiest duties of his life at Paris could not keep him from his daily visit _“I will see you if Europe goes to the bottom of the sea!” The first thing Madame Récamier received every morning was a note from him, and promptly in the afternoon at three-notre heure he lovingly calls it—he was at the Abbaye. These conversations softened the harshness of his character, and the last letters that he wrote her after an intimate friendship of over a quarter of a century show him in a new and charming light. He no longer complains at the real or fancied wrongs of the world; his petulance against the woman who has wrought so great a change in his character has disappeared; politics worry him no longer; as he wrote to her from London—"To be beloved by you ; to live in a little retreat with you and a few books, is the desire of my heart and the goal of all
By the death of friends and the beginning of a new order of things they became more indispensable to each other, and the glimpse that we catch of the last few years at the Abbaye is the pleasantest and saddest of all.
Though age for the most part dealt kindly with Madame Récamier and left her much of her early beauty, her last days were spent in almost utter darkness, though the fact of her blindness was known to but her most intimate friends. The increasing feebleness of age did not prevent the daily visits of Chateaubriand, though his servants were often obliged to wheel him in an arm chair to Madame Récamier's side. In the conversations that must have been rich in reminiscence and the daily confidences in letters, who could imagine a more charming old age? It was a fair precursor to the beautiful ending that the stormy life of Chateaubriand was to have; for in his last illness it was Madame Récamier who watched by his bed. side to the end.
Burton 7. Hendrick.
ON THE MORROW.
Did you know—they say her waving, golden hair
Do the wrinkles in the face o'ercast with care
When I meet her when the waiting all is past,
And if Time has harshly touched the color weak
Chauncey Wetmore Wells. THE NEW COUNTESS DE VERNEY.
you notice anything peculiar in the conception
of that picture,” asked my friend, pointing to the portrait of an extremely beautiful woman.
We had been walking through the halls of one of the most picturesque chateaux of Normandy, and examining the many interesting curiosities and paintings which decorated the walls. From discussing these mementoes of almost every country, our conversation had naturally drifted to the man who had collected them. He had been very extravagant in his youth, the old servant told us, but as to his life now he knew nothing. The Count de Verney seldom remained at home, and was now away on his wed. ding journey. After learning so much of our absent host, we had been left to wander through the vast maze of rooms by ourselves and so happened on the picture in question. It was the portrait of a young woman, richly dressed in a wedding gown. And yet there was something in her eyes that told you she was not a bride, and made you wonder what it was she represented. The heavy drooping eyelids were those of one in sorrow, they could not mean joy or happiness. And why should a bride be in tears, and what denoted the look of pain that the artist had so truly expressed? There was some mystery there that I could not understand, and I looked to my friend for explanation.
“The portrait was exhibited in the Salon at Paris a year ago," he continued in reply, "and attracted much attention through its strange history. It was there that I saw it for the first time."
“And what was its history?" I enquired with interest, trying still to harmonize the expression of those eyes with the white veil thrown so lightly over the shoulder.
“ It is rather a sad story," was the answer. “The artist was a poor man but possessing in his own opinion no inconsiderable talent for his art, he worked unceasingly, hoping against hope, until almost reduced to starvation.