“The prince had the queen on his right, and Madame de Stael on his left. The servant of the latter had laid a little green twig on her napkin, which she twisted between her fingers while speaking, as was her habit. The conversation was animated, and it was amusing to observe Madame de Stael gesticulating with the little twig in her fingers. One might have supposed that some fairy had given her this talisman, and that her genius was dependent upon this little twig.
“Constantinople, with which city several of the gentlemen were well acquainted, was now the topic of conversation. Madame de Stael thought it would be a delightful task for an intellectual woman, to turn the sultan’s head, and then to compel him to give his Turks a constitution. After dinner, freedom of the press was also a topic of conversation.
“Madame de Stael astonished me, not only by the brilliancy of her genius, but also by the deep earnestness with which she treated questions of that kind, for until then custom had not allowed women to discuss such matters. At entertainments, philosophy, morals, sentiment, heroism, and the like, had been the subjects of conversation, but the emperor monopolized politics. His era was that of actions, and, we may say it with pride, of great actions, while the era that followed was essentially that of great words, and of political and literary controversies.
“Madame de Stael spoke to the queen of her motto: ’Do that which is right, happen what may.’
“‘In my exile, which you so kindly endeavored to terminate,’ said she, ‘I often repeated this motto, and thought of you while doing so.’
“While speaking thus, her countenance was illumined by the reflection of inward emotion, and I found her beautiful. She was no longer the woman of mind only, but also the woman of heart and feeling, and I comprehended at this moment how charming she could be.
“Afterward, she had a long conversation with the queen touching the emperor. ‘Why was he so angry with me?’ asked she. ’He could not have known how much I admired him! I will see him—I shall go to Elba! Do you think he would receive me well? I was born to worship this man, and he has repelled me.’
‘Ah, madame,’ replied the queen, ’I have often heard the emperor say that he had a great mission to fulfil, and that he could compare his labors with the exertions of a man who, having the summit of a steep mountain ever before his eyes, strains every nerve to attain it, ever toiling painfully upward, and allowing his progress to be arrested by no obstacle whatever. “All the worse for those,” said he, “who meet me on my course—I can show them no consideration."’
“’You met him on his course, madame; perhaps he would have extended you a helping hand, after having reached the summit of his mountain.’
“‘I must speak with him,’ said Madame de Stael; ’I have been injured in his opinion.’
“‘I think so too,’ replied the queen, ’but you would judge him ill, if you considered him capable of hating any one. He believed you to be his enemy, and he feared you, which was something very unusual for him,’ added she, with a smile. ’Now that he is unfortunate, you will show yourself his friend, and prove yourself to be such, and I am satisfied that he will receive you well.’