Robespierre’s affection was not that of an impassioned lover; he did not show it by warm caresses or fervid vows; but yet he made her, whom he had chosen, understand that she was to him dearer than any other woman; and Eleanor was prouder of her affianced husband, than though the handsomest youth of Paris was at her feet.
As she entered his chamber, he was thinking partly of her, and he was not sorry to be thus interrupted. She carried a candle in one hand, and in the other a bouquet of fresh flowers, which she quietly laid among his papers. Robespierre either had, or affected a taste for flowers, and, as long as they were to be gotten, he was seldom seen without them, either in his hand or on his coat.
“I thought you would want a light, M. Robespierre,” said she, for though she hoped to be closely connected with him, she seldom ventured on the familiarity of calling him by his Christian name. Had she been a man, her democratic principle would have taught her to discontinue the aristocratic Monsieur; but, even in 1793, the accustomed courtesy of that obnoxious word was allowed to woman’s lips. “I thought you would want a light, or I would not have interrupted you at your work.”
“Thanks, Eleanor: I was not at work, though; my brain, my eyes, and hands were all tired. I have been sitting idle for, I believe, this half hour.”
“Your eyes and hands may have been at rest,” said she, sitting down at the end of the table, “but it is seldom that your thoughts are not at work.”
“It is one of the high privileges of man, that though his body needs repose, the faculties of his mind need never be entirely dormant. I know that I have reasoned in my sleep as lucidly as I have ever done awake; and though, when awake, I have forgotten what has passed through my mind, the work of my brain has not been lost: the same ideas have recurred to me again, and though in the recurrence, I cannot remember when I have before employed myself with arranging them, still they come to me as old friends, with whom I am well acquainted. The mind will seldom complain of too much labour, if the body be not injured by indulgence or disease.”