“Madame de Stael also occupied herself a great deal with the young princes, but she met with worse success with them than with us. It was perhaps in order to judge of their mental capacity, that she showered unsuitable questions upon them.
“‘Do you love your uncle?’
“‘Very much, madame!’
“‘And will you also be as fond of war as he is?’
“‘Yes, if it did not cause so much misery.’
’Is it true that he often made you repeat a fable commencing with the words, “The strongest is always in the right?"’
“’Madame, he often made us repeat fables, but this one not oftener than any other.’
“Young Prince Napoleon, a boy of astounding mental capacity and precocious judgment, answered all these questions with the greatest composure, and, at the conclusion of this examination, turned to me and said quite audibly: ’This lady asks a great many questions. Is that what you call being intellectual?’
“After the departure of our distinguished visitors, we all indulged in an expression of opinion concerning them, and young Prince Napoleon was the one upon whom the ladies had made the least flattering impression, but he only ventured to intimate as much in a low voice.
“I for my part had been more dazzled than gladdened by this visit. One could not avoid admiring this genius in spite of its inconsiderateness, and its wanderings, but there was nothing pleasing, nothing graceful and womanly, in Madame de Stael’s manner.”
[Footnote 36: Cochelet, Memoires sur la Reine Hortense, vol. i., pp. 429-440.]
THE OLD AND THE NEW ERA.
The restoration was accomplished. The allies had at last withdrawn from the kingdom, and Louis XVIII. was now the independent ruler of France. In him, in the returned members of his family, and in the emigrants who were pouring into the country from all quarters, was represented the old era of France, the era of despotic royal power, of brilliant manners, of intrigues, of aristocratic ideas, of ease and luxury. Opposed to them stood the France of the new era, the generation formed by Napoleon and the revolution, the new aristocracy, who possessed no other ancestors than merit and valorous deeds, an aristocracy that had nothing to relate of the oeil de boeuf and the petites maisons, but an aristocracy that could tell of the battle-field and of the hospitals in which their wounds had been healed.
These two parties stood opposed to each other.
Old and young France now carried on an hourly, continuous warfare at the court of Louis XVIII., with this difference, however, that young France, hitherto ever victorious, now experienced a continuous series of reverses and humiliations. Old France was now victorious. Not victorious through its gallantry and merit, but through its past, which it endeavored to connect with the present, without considering the chasm which lay between.