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The Women of the French Salons HTML version

By Amelia Gere Mason
It has been a labor of love with many distinguished
Frenchmen to recall
the memories of the women who have made their society so
and to retouch with sympathetic insight the features
which time was
beginning to dim. One naturally hesitates to enter a
field that has
been gleaned so carefully, and with such brilliant
results, by men
like Cousin, Sainte-Beuve, Goncourt, and others of
lesser note. But the
social life of the two centuries in which women played
so important a
role in France is always full of human interest from
whatever point of
view one may regard it. If there is not a great deal to
be said that is
new, old facts may be grouped afresh, and old modes of
life and thought
measured by modern standards.
In searching through the numerous memoirs, chronicles,
letters, and
original manuscripts in which the records of these
centuries are hidden
away, nothing has struck me so forcibly as the
remarkable mental vigor
and the far-reaching influence of women whose theater
was mainly a
social one. Though society has its frivolities, it has
also its serious
side, and it is through the phase of social evolution
that was begun