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The Flowers Personified


Section 9

 

FRAGMENTS TAKEN AT RANDOM FROM THE ALBUM OF THE ROSE

[1] [2] [3] [4]
[5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

 

* * * * * * **

         THE LAST DAYS OF THE ROSE:

1797—1846

           On the return of the emigrants, the rose assumed the title of Madam de Saint Rosanne.

           Under this name she passed through the bright days of the Directory. No one wore more gracefully the open robe of the huntress Diana. Her hair curled behind was exceedingly becoming.

           She had a large retinue – kept open table – and received as visiters, poets, generals, and ministers of state. Bonaparte was presented to her; and their contemporaries have assured us, that the future emperor produced but an indifferent sensation in the saloon of Madam de Saint Rosanne.

          Never had she been happier, even in the time of the Roman empire – for which she expresses so much regret in the fragments that we have already presented to the reader.

          Nothing was in request but rosy complexions, rosy cheeks, rosy lips, rosy nostrils, – provided always, that these complexions, cheeks, lips, and nostrils, were blended with a little of the lily.

          Poets had but one subject of comparison – the rose; and they drew on every part – the stem, the bud, the thorns.

          Madam de Saint Rosanne constantly carried here head high. A delicate carnation (the old style) gave animation to her cheeks. Her lips were of a carmine tint. She moved with the dignity of a woman who has put on the buskin, not for the stage alone. In every way – in all possible styles – in verse and in prose – she was told that she resembled the rose.

          All this homage she received with a dignified and queenly indifference. It gratified her vanity rather than her heart. Madam de Saint Rosanne was renowned for haughtiness and insensibility. A poet who had been provoked by her disdain, let off against her a fierce epigram, which ended thus:

“Like Bengal’s fair but scentless rose,
Her heart no touch of feeling knows.”

          A malignant public eagerly caught at this allusion. The rivals of Madam de Saint Rosanne got the epigram by heart, and hawked it about in all the saloons.

          Madam de Saint Rosanne’s influence, instead of abating, became constantly greater during the whole period of the empire. Napoleon cherished some resentment on account of the cool reception which she had given him in the days of the republic. But this resentment did not lead to the disgrace of he individual who had incurred it.

          Madam de Saint Rosanne, under the suggestions of a clever and calculating policy, broke with the Restoration as early as 1822. She appeared frequently in the saloons of the liberals; and upon several occasions, publicly invited Beranger to dinner. The editors of the Constitutionnel were all friends of hers, and she was among the earliest supporters of that journal.

          Everybody knows that about the year 1839, a very remarkable modification took place in regard to literary preferences. The pale, faded, green-looking woman began to lose her admirers. For a short time, Madam de Saint Rosanne fancied that the moss-rose beauty of the empire was about to regain her supremacy. Her mistake was of short duration. The lively, frolicsome, flighty woman was next invented; the incomprehensible, reddish-brown, prismatic, witty, provoking, adorable woman; the woman many-tinted and serpent-like.

          Madam de Saint Rosanne perceived that her reign on earth was at an end; and she sent in her submission to the Flower Fairy.

          But though the Flower Fairy has unbounded indulgence for the repentant, she is inflexibly armed against wounded vanity.

          To mortify that passion, the Flower Fairy has condemned the rose to live and die an old woman. She will never grant her a pardon, until the hour of her natural death shall arrive.