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THE LAST DAYS OF THE ROSE:
On the return of the emigrants, the rose
assumed the title of Madam de Saint Rosanne.
Under this name she passed through the bright
days of the Directory. No one wore more gracefully the open robe of the huntress
Diana. Her hair curled behind was exceedingly becoming.
She had a large retinue – kept open table –
and received as
visiters, poets, generals, and ministers of state. Bonaparte was
presented to her; and their contemporaries have assured us, that the future
emperor produced but an indifferent sensation in the saloon of Madam de Saint
Never had she been happier, even in the time of
the Roman empire – for which she expresses so much regret in the fragments that
we have already presented to the reader.
Nothing was in request but rosy complexions,
rosy cheeks, rosy lips, rosy nostrils, – provided always, that these
complexions, cheeks, lips, and nostrils, were blended with a little of the lily.
Poets had but one subject of comparison – the
rose; and they drew on every part – the stem, the bud, the thorns.
Madam de Saint Rosanne constantly carried here
head high. A delicate carnation (the old style) gave animation to her cheeks.
Her lips were of a carmine tint. She moved with the dignity of a woman who has
put on the buskin, not for the stage alone. In every way – in all possible
styles – in verse and in prose – she was told that she resembled the rose.
All this homage she received with a dignified
and queenly indifference. It gratified her vanity rather than her heart. Madam
de Saint Rosanne was renowned for haughtiness and insensibility. A poet who had
been provoked by her disdain, let off against her a fierce epigram, which ended
“Like Bengal’s fair but scentless
Her heart no touch of feeling knows.”
A malignant public eagerly caught at this
allusion. The rivals of Madam de Saint Rosanne got the epigram by heart, and
hawked it about in all the saloons.
Madam de Saint Rosanne’s influence, instead of
abating, became constantly greater during the whole period of the empire.
Napoleon cherished some resentment on account of the cool reception which she
had given him in the days of the republic. But this resentment did not lead to
the disgrace of he individual who had incurred it.
Madam de Saint Rosanne, under the suggestions
of a clever and calculating policy, broke with the Restoration as early as 1822.
She appeared frequently in the saloons of the liberals; and upon several
occasions, publicly invited Beranger to dinner. The editors of the
Constitutionnel were all friends of hers, and she was among the earliest
supporters of that journal.
Everybody knows that about the year 1839, a
very remarkable modification took place in regard to literary preferences. The
pale, faded, green-looking woman began to lose her admirers. For a short time,
Madam de Saint Rosanne fancied that the moss-rose beauty of the empire was about
to regain her supremacy. Her mistake was of short duration. The lively,
frolicsome, flighty woman was next invented; the incomprehensible,
reddish-brown, prismatic, witty, provoking, adorable woman; the woman
many-tinted and serpent-like.
Madam de Saint Rosanne perceived that her reign
on earth was at an end; and she sent in her submission to the Flower Fairy.
But though the Flower Fairy has unbounded
indulgence for the repentant, she is inflexibly armed against wounded vanity.
To mortify that passion, the Flower Fairy has
condemned the rose to live and die an old woman. She will never grant her a
pardon, until the hour of her natural death shall arrive.