At a later period of his life, Moliere might have solved the question from bitter personal experience, for few ever suffered more from the pangs of jealousy, and assuredly no one has painted with such vigour—though the comic often prevails over the serious in his delineations—the effects of a passion any thing but comic to him. Strange power of genius, to make others laugh at incidents which had often tormented himself, and to be able to give humour to characters in various comedies, actuated by the feelings to which he had so frequently been a victim!
I can picture to myself the fair Julie d’Angennes, who bestowed not her hand on the Duc de Montausier until he had served as many years in seeking it as Jacob had served to gain that of Rachel, and until she had passed her thirtieth year (in order that his passion should become as purified from all grossness, as was the language spoken among the circle in which she lived), receiving with dignified reserve the finely painted flowers and poems to illustrate them, which formed the celebrated Guirlande de Julie, presented to her by her courtly admirer.
I see pass before me the fair and elegant dames of that galaxy of wit and beauty, Mesdames de Longueville, Lafayette, and de Sevigne, fluttering their fans as they listened and replied to the gallant compliments of Voiture, Menage, Chapelain, Desmarets, or De Reaux, or to the spirituelle causerie of Chamfort.
What a pity that a society, no less useful than brilliant at its commencement, should have degenerated into a coterie, remarkable at last but for its fantastic and false notions of refinement, exhibited in a manner that deserved the ridicule it called down!
Spent last evening in the Rue d’Anjou: met there la Marquise de Pouleprie, and the usual habitues. She is a delightful person; for age has neither chilled the warmth of her heart, nor impaired the vivacity of her manners. I had heard much of her; for she is greatly beloved by the Duchesse de Guiche and all the De Gramont family; and she, knowing their partiality to me, treated me rather as an old than as a new acquaintance.
Talking of old times, to which the Duc de Gramont reverted, the Marquise mentioned having seen the celebrated Madame du Barry in the garden at Versailles, when she (the Marquise) was a very young girl. She described her as having a most animated and pleasant countenance, un petit nez retrousse, brilliant eyes, full red lips, and as being altogether a very attractive person.
The Marquise de Pouleprie accompanied the French royal family to England, and remained with them there during the emigration. She told me that once going through the streets of London in a carriage, with the French king, during an election at Westminster, the mob, ignorant of his rank, insisted that he and his servants should take off their hats, and cry out “Long live Sir Francis Burdett!” which his majesty did with great good humour, and laughed heartily after.