“But if sacred interests should require her presence here for a few days, your majesty would at least—”
“What? Sacred interests? What does that mean?”
“Sire,” the presence of my mother will be necessary, in order to procure from your majesty’s government the return of a sacred debt.”
“Ah, bah! sacred! Are not all the debts of the state sacred?”
“Without doubt, sire; but ours is accompanied by peculiar circumstances.”
“Peculiar circumstances!” exclaimed the emperor, rising to terminate the long interview, that began to weary him. “What creditor of the state does not say the same of his debt? Moreover, I know too little of your relations toward my government. This matter does not concern me, and I will not be mixed up in it. If the laws are for you, all will go well without my interference; but if it requires influence, I shall have nothing to do with it, for I should be rather against than for you!”
“Sire,” said young Stael, venturing to speak once more, as the emperor was on the point of leaving, “sire, my brother and I were anxious to settle in France; but how could we live in a land in which our mother would not be allowed to live with us everywhere?”
Already standing on the threshold of the door, the emperor turned to him hastily. “I have no desire whatever to have you settle here,” said he; “on the contrary. I advise you not to do so. Go to England. There they have a penchant for Genevese, parlor-politicians, etc.; therefore, go to England; for I must say, I should be rather ill than well disposed toward you!”
[Footnote 35: Bourrienne, vol. viii., p. 355.]
MADAME DE STAEL’S RETURN TO PARIS.
Madame de Stael returned to her cherished France with the restoration. She came back thirsting for new honor and renown, and determined, above all, to have her work republished in Germany, its publication having been once suppressed by the imperial police. She entertained the pleasing hope that the new court would forget that she was Necker’s daughter, receive her with open arms, and accord her the influence to which her active mind and genius entitled her.
But she was laboring under an error, by which she was not destined to be long deceived. She was received at court with the cold politeness which is more terrible than insult. The king, while speaking of her with his friends, called Madame de Stael “a Chateaubriand in petticoats.” The Duchess d’Angouleme seemed never to see the celebrated poetess, and never addressed a word to her; the rest of the court met Madame de Stael armed to the teeth with all the hatred and prejudices of the olden time.
It was also in vain that Madame de Stael endeavored to act an important part at the new court; they refused to regard her as an authority or power, but treated her as a mere authoress; her counsel was ridiculed, and they dared even to question the renown of M. Necker.