With most of this story Juliette had become acquainted 노래방알
바 through the gossip of Mme. Fauvety’s drawing-room. And what she did not already know was told her by Mme. d’Agoult’s friend, de Ronchaud, whom the Countess had sent to escort the young Mme. Lamessine to the Rue Presbourg. Mme. d’Agoult could not have assigned Juliette a more congenial cavalier. De Ronchaud was a fervent classicist, one of the founders of that new Hellenic school [Pg 65] which was just then coming into prominence. His delightful talk about Greek art in the book-shop of Père France on the Quai Voltaire had seduced young Anatole into playing truant from the Collège Stanislas in order to spend a whole day wandering through the Galerie des Antiques in the Louvre. Juliette found de Ronchaud’s conversation equally entrancing. “Our first talk,” she writes, “was one long hymn to Greece.” De Ronchaud promised to introduce his young friend to other Hellenists, and he foretold that together they would bring about a second Renaissance.
What an all-important event was Juliette’s first evening in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon may easily be imagined. She found the Countess, like many other distinguished Frenchwomen, anticipating her age, for although she was only fifty-three, she wore over her silver hair a light black lace mantilla. At the first glance she gave Juliette the impression of strength, almost virile, and yet of femininity. “J’ai atteint l’âge d’homme,” she used to say, echoing Catherine of Russia’s sentiment when she welcomed Diderot with the words: “As man to man we can discuss anything.” Tall and superbly graceful, it seemed to Juliette that she had never seen a more complete great lady. When Mme. d’Agoult described herself as a Democrat, it was difficult to suppress a smile, so anomalous on her lips sounded such a word. Her bearing, the pose of her head, her features, the lines of her face which betrayed no trace of the tempestuous passion that had swept over her in youth; everything about Mme. d’Agoult was aristocratic.
In the general conversation of her salon the Countess took little part, but, seated on the right of the fireplace, she would carry on a tête-à-tête with some single person. Unlike many another salon lady, Mme. du Deffand or Mme. de Staël or Juliette herself, she was no maker of mots; nor was she ready with repartee. She herself could never understand how she came by her reputation of a wit; for she knew that she never appeared at her best in conversation. She was too reserved, too self-conscious to be a vivacious talker, and she could only be eloquent when intense feeling took her out of herself.
Grave and a trifle solemn, her salon was frequented by [Pg 66] serious students, such as Littré, who rarely went anywhere else, as well as by more sociable philosophers like Renan. The subjects discussed were politics, philosophy, art (music especially), serious literature, but seldom plays or novels. The guests were too addicted to monologue; and too often some weighty personage, leaning against the mantel-piece would discourse at such length that his talk became a veritable lecture. Sometimes Mme. d’Agoult would read a letter from some foreign correspondent, a famous revolutionary like Mazzini or Kossuth; for she had relations with the whole of Europe, including those illustrious Frenchmen whom Louis Napoléon’s coup d’état of December 1851 had driven into exile.
Though all Mme. d’Agoult’s friends were republicans and therefore opposed to the Empire, they were not all agreed as to the best way of conducting the opposition. About this year, 1858, two distinct parties were beginning to define themselves: the extreme republicans who, like Juliette and her father, believed in keeping entirely aloof from imperial politics, and who regarded as traitors to Republicanism any who should, no matter for what purpose, consent to swear allegiance to the Emperor. These uncompromising anti-imperialists went by the name of abstentionistes. But there was also coming into existence a more moderate party led by Mme. d’Agoult’s son-in-law, Émile Ollivier. They held that opposition to the Empire could be most effectively carried out by entering the Corps Legislatif, for which it was necessary to take the oath of allegiance. This party, known as sermentistes, was to grow in strength until it succeeded in forcing its so-called Liberalism on the Emperor, and establishing what is known as L’Empire Libéral.
Juliette’s uncompromising nature, as we have seen, made it impossible for her to approve of the Sermentistes. And she loses no opportunity of ridiculing les petits Olliviers, as Ollivier’s followers were called, when they appeared in Mme. d’Agoult’s salon. Indeed, the Countess herself opposed her son-in-law’s policy; and, after her daughter’s death, there was an open breach between them.
From the very first the pretty, vivacious Mme. Lamessine made a highly favourable impression on Mme. d’Agoult. [Pg 67] “She took the trouble,” writes Juliette, “to convert a little provincial into a society lady. She encouraged me to talk of my work. When you are perplexed, come and tell me,” she would say. “I shall be delighted to give you the benefit of my observation of mankind and of all I have learnt in the hard school of experience.”
Soon Juliette’s invitation to the Countess’s evenings was extended to those smaller intimate parties, which met around the luncheon or the dinner-table. On these occasions the Hellenist, Louis de Ronchaud, was almost invariably her fellow-guest.