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A Very Special Correspondent : Pauline de Meulan’s magazine Publiciste was close to going out of business when an anonymous contributor stepped in.
A Very Special Correspondent

From Character by Samuel Smiles (1812-1904).

François Guizot (1787-1874) was the 17th Prime Minister of France, and a historian with a particular affection for England. ‘If he was treated with harshness by his political enemies,’ wrote Samuel Smiles, ‘his consolation was in the tender affection which filled his home with sunshine.’

THE circumstances connected with M Guizot's courtship and marriage are curious and interesting.*

While a young man living by his pen in Paris, writing books, reviews, and translations, he formed a casual acquaintance with Mademoiselle Pauline de Meulan, a lady of great ability, then editor of the Publiciste.

A severe domestic calamity having befallen her, she fell ill, and was unable for a time to carry on the heavy literary work connected with her journal. At this juncture a letter without any signature reached her one day, offering a supply of articles, which the writer hoped would be worthy of the reputation of the Publiciste. The articles duly arrived, were accepted, and published. They dealt with a great variety of subjects — art, literature, theatricals, and general criticism.

When the editor at length recovered from her illness, the writer of the articles disclosed himself: it was M Guizot. An intimacy sprang up between them, which ripened into mutual affection, and before long Mademoiselle de Meulan became his wife.*

* M Guizot’s literary standing in Victorian England was very high. In the comic opera ‘Patience’, W. S Gilbert included his ‘narrative powers’ in a recipe for a Dragoon in the British Army, along with Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Daniel Defoe and Anthony Trollope. Find in our Music Library.

* Society found the alliance intriguing. The two differed greatly in character: Pauline was as lively, outgoing and unsure of her beliefs as François was retiring, bookish, and crusading. Pauline was his elder by 14 years.

From Character by Samuel Smiles (1812-1904).

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Picture: By Felix Nadar (1820-1910), via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
François Guizot (1787-1874). Guizot was Ambassador to London, Foreign Minister and finally Prime Minister under King Louis Phillipe, the ‘citizen King’ who led France from 1830 to 1848 (in the aftermath of the fall of Napoleon in 1815). The collapse of his government in 1848 led to the Second French Republic, and Louis Philippe found permanent asylum in Britain. Guizot came to London too, but later returned to Normandy.
By The Revd Alexander Scott

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