Anglo-French Relations The Cloak of Secrecy A personal voyage of detection

The Characters of Balzac's 'La Comédie Humaine': Fact or Fiction?

In 1824 she was at an Opera ball to which she had come through an anonymous note, and, leaning on the arm of Sixte du Chatelet, she met Lucien de Rubempre whose beauty struck her and whom she seemed, indeed, not to remember. The poet had his revenge for her former disdain, by means of some cutting phrases, and Jacques Collin–Vautrin–masked, caused her uneasiness by persuading her that Lucien was the author of the note and that he loved her. [Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life.] The Chaulieus were intimate with her at the time when their daughter Louise was courted by Baron de Macumer. [Letters of Two Brides.]

Despite the silent opposition of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, after the Revolution of 1830, the Marquise d’Espard did not close her salon, since she did not wish to renounce her Parisian prestige. In this she was seconded by one or two women in her circle and by Mlle. des Touches. [Another Study of Woman.] She was at home Wednesdays. In 1833 she attended a soiree at the home of the Princesse de Cadignan, where Marsay disclosed the mystery surrounding the abduction of Senator Malin in 1806. [The Gondreville Mystery.] Notwithstanding an evil report circulated against her by Mme. d’Espard, the princesse told Daniel d’Arthez that the marquise was her best friend; she was related to her. [The Secrets of a Princess.] Actuated by jealousy for Mme. Felix de Vandenesse, Mme. d’Espard fostered the growing intimacy between the young woman and Nathan the poet; she wished to see an apparent rival compromised. In 1835 the marquise defended vaudeville entertainments against Lady Dudley, who said she could not endure them. [A Daughter of Eve.] In 1840, on leaving the Italiens, Mme. d’Espard humiliated Mme. de Rochefide by snubbing her; all the women followed her example, shunning the mistress of Calyste du Guenic. [Beatrix.] In short the Marquise d’Espard was one of the most snobbish people of her day. Her disposition was sour and malevolent, despite its elegant veneer.



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