Private Correspondence of the Duchess of Marlborough; Mrs. Thompson’s Life of the Duchess of Marlborough; “Conduct,” by the Duchess of Marlborough, Life of Dr. Tillotson, by Dr. Birch; Coxe’s Life of the Duke of Marlborough; Evelyn’s Diary; Lord Mahon’s History of England; Macaulay’s History of England; Lewis Jenkin’s Memoirs of the Duke of Gloucester; Burnet’s History of his own Times; Lamberty’s Memoirs; Swift’s Journal to Stella; Liddiard’s Life of the Duke of Marlborough; Boyer’s Annals of Queen Anne; Swift’s Memoir of the Queen’s Ministry; Cunningham’s History of Great Britain; Walpole’s Correspondence, edited by Coxe; Sir Walter Scott’s Life of Swift; Agnes Strickland’s Queens of England; Marlborough and the Times of Queen Anne; Westminster Review, lvi. 26; Dublin University Review, lxxiv. 469; Temple Bar Magazine, lii. 333; Burton’s Reign of Queen Anne; Stanhope’s Queen Anne.
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A. D. 1777-1849.
THE WOMAN OF SOCIETY.
I know of no woman who by the force of beauty and social fascinations, without extraordinary intellectual gifts or high birth, has occupied so proud a position as a queen of society as Madame Recamier. So I select her as the representative of her class.
It was in Italy that women first drew to their salons the distinguished men of their age, and exercised over them a commanding influence. More than three hundred years ago Olympia Fulvia Morata was the pride of Ferrara,—eloquent with the music of Homer and Virgil, a miracle to all who heard her, giving public lectures to nobles and professors when only a girl of sixteen; and Vittoria Colonna was the ornament of the Court of Naples, and afterwards drew around her at Rome the choicest society of that elegant capital,—bishops, princes, and artists,—equally the friend of Cardinal Pole and of Michael Angelo, and reigning in her retired apartments in the Benedictine convent of St. Anne, even as the Duchesse de Longueville shone at the Hotel de Rambouillet, with De Retz and La Rochefoucauld at her feet. This was at a period when the Italian cities were the centre of the new civilization which the Renaissance created, when ancient learning and art were cultivated with an enthusiasm never since surpassed.
The new position which women seem to have occupied in the sixteenth century in Italy, was in part owing to the wealth and culture of cities—ever the paradise of ambitious women—and the influence of poetry and chivalry, of which the Italians were the earliest admirers. Provencal poetry was studied in Italy as early as the time of Dante; and veneration for woman was carried to a romantic excess when the rest of Europe was comparatively rude. Even in the eleventh century we see in the southern part of Europe a respectful enthusiasm for woman coeval with the birth of chivalry. The gay troubadours