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PAGE 3

Madame De Stael
by [?]

She knew how to compliment without flattering; her cordiality warmed like wine, and her ready wit, repartee, and ability to thaw all social ice and lead conversation along any line, were accomplishments which perhaps have never been equaled. The women who “entertain” often only depress; they are so glowing that everybody else feels himself punk. And these people who are too clever are very numerous; they seem inwardly to fear rivals, and are intent on working while it is called the day.

Over against these are the celebrities who sit in a corner and smile knowingly when they are expected to scintillate. And the individual who talks too much at one time is often painfully silent at another–as if he had made New-Year resolves. But the daughter of Necker entered into conversation with candor and abandon; she gave herself to others, and knew whether they wished to talk or to listen. On occasion, she could monopolize conversation until she seemed the only person in the room; but all talent was brighter for the added luster of her own. This simplicity, this utter frankness, this complete absence of self-consciousness, was like the flight of a bird that never doubts its power, simply because it never thinks of it. Yet continual power produces arrogance, and the soul unchecked finally believes in its own omniscience.

Of course such a matrimonial prize as the daughter of Necker was sought for, even fought for. But the women who can see clear through a man, like a Roentgen ray, do not invite soft demonstration. They give passion a chill. Love demands a little illusion; it must be clothed in mystery. And although we find evidences that many youths stood in the hallways and sighed, the daughter of Necker never saw fit by a nod to bring them to her feet. She was after bigger game–she desired the admiration and approbation of archbishops, cardinals, generals, statesmen, great authors.

Germaine Necker had no conception of what love is.

Many women never have. Had this fine young woman met a man with intellect as clear, mind as vivid, and heart as warm as her own, and had he pierced her through with a wit as strong and keen as she herself wielded, her pride would have been broken and she might have paused. Then they might have looked into each other’s eyes and lost self there. And had she thus known love it would have been a complete passion, for the woman seemed capable of it.

A better pen than mine has written, “A woman’s love is a dog’s love.” The dog that craves naught else but the presence of his master, who is faithful to the one and whines out his life on that master’s grave, waiting for the caress that never comes and the cheery voice that is never heard–that’s the way a woman loves! A woman may admire, respect, revere and obey, but she does not love until a passion seizes upon her that has in it the abandon of Niagara. Do you remember how Nancy Sikes crawls inch by inch to reach the hand of Bill, and reaching it, tenderly caresses the coarse fingers that a moment before clutched her throat, and dies content? That’s the love of woman! The prophet spoke of something “passing the love of woman,” but the prophet was wrong–there’s nothing does.

So Germaine Necker, the gracious, the kindly, the charming, did not love. However, she married–married Baron De Stael, the Swedish Ambassador. He was thirty-seven, she was twenty. De Stael was good-looking, polite, educated. He always smiled at the right time, said bright things in the right way, kept silence when he should, and made no enemies because he agreed with everybody about everything. Stipulations were made; a long agreement was drawn up; it was signed by the party of the first and duly executed by the party of the second part; sealed, witnessed, sworn to, and the priest was summoned.