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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Madame De Stael

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Going to Weimar, she met Goethe, Wieland, Schiller, and other noted men. At Berlin, the greatest attention was shown her. The beautiful Louise of Prussia welcomed her heartily. During this exile her father died, with his latest breath saying," She has loved me dearly! She has loved me dearly!" On his death-bed he wrote a letter to Bonaparte telling him that his daughter was in nowise responsible for his book, but it was never answered. It was enough for Napoleon to know that she did not flatter him; therefore he wished her out of the way.

Madame de Stael was for a time completely overcome by Necker's death. She wore his picture on her person as long as she lived. Only once did she part with it, and then she imagined it might console her daughter in her illness. Giving it to her, she said, "Gaze upon it, gaze upon it, when you are in pain."

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She now sought repose in Italy, preparing those beautiful descriptions for her Corinne, and finally returning to Coppet, spent a year in writing her book. It was published in Paris, and, says Sainte-Beuve, "its success was instantaneous and universal. As a work of art, as a poem, the romance of Corinne is an immortal monument." Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, called the author the greatest writer in France since Voltaire and Rousseau, and the greatest woman writer of any age or country. Napoleon, however, in his official paper, caused a scathing criticism on Corinne to appear; indeed, it was declared to be from his own pen. She was told by the Minister of Police, that she had but to insert some praise of Napoleon in Corinne, and she would be welcomed back to Paris. She could not, however, live a lie, and she feared Napoleon had evil designs upon France.

Again she visited Germany with her children, Schlegel, and Sismondi. So eager was everybody to see her and hear her talk, that Bettina von Arnim says in her correspondence with Goethe: "The gentlemen stood around the table and planted themselves behind us, elbowing one another. They leaned quite over me, and I said in French, 'Your adorers quite suffocate me.'"

While in Germany, her eldest son, then seventeen, had an interview with Bonaparte about the return of his mother. "Your mother," said Napoleon, "could not be six months in Paris before I should be compelled to send her to Bicetre or the Temple. I should regret this necessity, for it would make a noise and might injure me a little in public opinion. Say, therefore, to her that as long as I live she cannot re-enter Paris. I see what you wish, but it cannot be; she will commit follies; she will have the world about her."

On her return to Coppet, she spent two years in writing her Allemagne, for which she had been making researches for four years. She wished it published in Paris, as Corinne had been, and submitted it to the censors of the Press. They crossed out whatever sentiments they thought might displease Napoleon, and then ten thousand copies were at once printed, she meantime removing to France, within her proscribed limits, that she might correct the proof-sheets.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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