Marie Louis was a very handsome woman. She had a majestic figure and noble bearing, fresh complexion, blond hair, and blue eyes full of expression; her hands and feet were the admiration of the court. Her figure was, perhaps, a trifle too stout; but she lost some of this superfluous flesh during her stay in France, though thereby she gained as much in grace and beauty. Such was her appearance. In her intercourse with those immediately around her she was affable and cordial; and the enjoyment she felt in the freedom of these conversations was depicted on her countenance, which grew animated, and took on an infinite grace. But when she was obliged to appear in public she became extremely timid; formal society served of itself to isolate her; and as persons who are not naturally haughty always appear so with a poor grace, Marie Louise, being always much embarrassed on reception days, was often the subject of unjust criticism; for, as I have said, her coldness in reality arose from an excessive timidity.
Immediately after her arrival in France, Marie Louise suffered from this embarrassment to a very great degree, which can be easily understood in a young princess who found herself so suddenly transported into an entirely new society, to whose habits and tastes she felt obliged to conform, and in which, although her high position must naturally attract the world to her, the circumstances of this position rendered it necessary that she should take the initiative in any advances made, a fact which explains the awkwardness of her early relations with the ladies of her court. After intimacies had been formed, and the young Empress had chosen her friends with all the abandon of her young heart, then haughtiness and constraint vanished, or reappeared only on occasions of ceremony. Marie Louise was of a calm, thoughtful character; it took little to arouse her sensitive spirit; and yet, although easily moved, she was by no means demonstrative. The Empress had received a very careful education, her mind was cultivated and her tastes very simple, and she possessed every accomplishment.