By Susan K. Foley, Charles Sowerwine (auth.)
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Additional resources for A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the Making of the French Republic, 1872–82
As for that of the future, la Rochefoucault [sic] says: ‘We can no more vouch for the duration of our feelings than for that of our life’. I spent three hours in Paris on Wednesday, I saw my doctor and put to him the question that occupied us last Saturday. Is the heart an organ or a muscle? He replied that we were both partly right and that we had to unite our opinions to be completely correct, the heart is a muscular organ. I think you are too hard on the almost necessary irritability of the little hero of the bourgeoisie [Adolphe Thiers].
He had made a number of reports to the Emperor about the Empress’ extravagances and his reports infuriated Eugénie’s faction. 37 Léon could hardly have accompanied Hyrvoix as his mistress to a small provincial town, even had she wished to, but his departure left her in difficult circumstances. Whether he provided financial support for Léon and their son, who was now three years old, we do not know. 38 These concessions had been allocated since Napoleon I’s time to widows and orphans of soldiers, to ensure them a modest income.
Describing to Gambetta ‘the delightful emotions that your vibrant voice causes in me’, she added on one occasion: ‘Never has it sounded so harmonious to me as during our last meeting. I said to you: Speak, speak again, and I listened, my soul plunged in an indescribable intoxication. ’41 Léon’s political role alongside Gambetta was not confined to applauding his oratory. 42 Léon lived vicariously the drama of the early 1870s as republicans, with Gambetta in the vanguard, tried to wrest government of the nominal Republic from a monarchist majority bent on a restoration.
A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the Making of the French Republic, 1872–82 by Susan K. Foley, Charles Sowerwine (auth.)