A Keeper of Royal Secrets

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    Biografie, Saggistica

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This volume has not had for its aim the rehabilitation of Mme. de Genlis, but it is the truth about her, and a semi-rehabilitation of her has resulted from the truth. The time was ripe for such a book (and it was not an easy book to write), for Mine, de Genlis had come to be only a name remembered only with a smile, inasmuch as it evoked the idea of the most tedious of all the tedious authors of a very tedious epoch; and, for some, the idea of a political intrigante of somewhat easy morals, who, in the witty phrase of another woman, "made precepts of the virtues and a practice of the vices."<br><br>To many people it would not much matter if these ideas had continued to prevail until the very name of Mme. de Genlis had been forgotten, but it does matter a little to the literary history of France that such an impression should be rectified in so far as it is incorrect.<br><br>The reputation of Mme. de Genlis has suffered from two things: from her wit, which was very sardonic and which drew down on her by way of reprisals a certain number of uncomplimentary characterisations that have survived; and her Memoirs, which are so manifestly inaccurate and which leave so much untold, that - as often happens in such cases people - have been disposed to believe the worst of her. "I should like to write a book such as nobody has ever written," someone said once to Rivarol. "Faites voire eloge," was his reply.

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