was quiet enough at the beginning of the Restoration.
After so much commotion and disturbance, the masses were well
pleased to have a little repose. Some salons were open
once more, but in the words of Mme. de Stäel:
"Very few agreeable
members of the old régime were in Paris, for the aged
were for the most part broken down through long continued misfortunes
or soured by deeply rooted indignation. The nobles who returned
from exile were like shipwrecked sailors cast on the shore and
still bewildered by the storm" (De Saint-Amand,
the salons famous at the start of the Restoration were
those of Madame de Stäel and Madame Récamier.
The independent Mme. de Stäel, though enthusiasic for Louis
XVIII, held a liberal salon. Mme. Récamier, on the
other hand, who above all was a pretty woman, had an eclectic
mix of guests at her salon.
On commenting on society
after the Restoration, Mme. de Stäel noted: "The fear which
the imperial government inspired has entirely destroyed the customary
freedom of conversation; under that government nearly all Frenchmen
became diplomatists so that society indulged only in insipid talk
which never recalled the bold spirit of France"
(De Saint-Amand, 52).
The rapid and startling
events of a century that had been compressed into a span of a
decade had brought incredible changes to France. The 19th century
brought a tone of seriousness with many dead hopes and sad memories
for the aristocrats.
Let us now learn how
women such as Madame Juliette
Récamier managed to rise to the challenge and carry on
with their salons.