Marquise de Pompadour
This imaginary interview of Madame de Pompadour is composed of actually uttered by the Marquise sentences, taken from his letters. (Sources: Mario Frejaville: “Madame de Pompadour told me …” – Mario Frejaville: “Madame de Pompadour mi ha detto …” – Schena Editore 1981 – With the permission of the publisher). Translation of the article published on the beautiful site Madame de Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour . You know, I do not really like politics, but because of my singular fortune I was forced to study. You are surprised that a woman takes care of all these things, but my situation is somewhat special. I demonstrated several times that women may be right and give good advice. If I can see France at peace, the King happy, quiet subjects, I can say to have lived enough. To do politics, we need common sense and behave properly. But politics is not good for women, because thinking is only an effect of age!
MF. Madam, how do you rate these politicians?
MoP. The art of a politician is to deceive and lie for the good of the state.
MF. What do you think of our two countries?
MoP. Italy is the most beautiful countries in Europe, but it is also the lowest. France is invincible when attacked in her home, but she does not much like the sea. I dare say it will never shine as a maritime power.
MF. Wars are really inevitable?
MoP. The mean “point of honor” is infinitely more fatal in large disputes between nations than in smaller families. Peace is the most valuable asset that a king can give to his subjects. The ambition and vanity of princes cause the ruin of nations
MF. The “external” position of Russia and England to the rest of old Europe … Your experience in government, you did it suggest?
MoP. There are a hundred years, Russia was as unknown as the southern lands. It will gradually become inured and learn the art of war to serve the different powers that want to use it; soon it will come to defeat his formidable way teachers. Perhaps we will see a new barbarian invasion out by the dens of Siberia, controlled by a new Attila, they would flood Europe. God forbid!
In England there are only merchants who want war and they are declared whenever they want!. That’s why he do not listen to what they say to the Court but it is said to the London Stock Exchange. The English are singular: they are greedy, unjust, and therefore they are the natural enemies of other countries. This people is very extreme: in vice as in virtue. They hate the French with all their heart, and the French hate to turn; they are always the war, even if it’s only in the intentions. The Athenians swore to regard as areas of their Republic all the places where they planted the vines and olive trees. The English did not swear, but they follow this practice.
MF. In your opinion is it always better the Monarchy to the Republic?
PW. A sovereign has two families, his and the family of the state, and for this reason, he always has a reason to suffer. In a monarchy (absolute) the king gives a kick to his prime minister, that one gives to the dignitaries of the Crown, who spend their subordinates. It’s a chain reaction among the various levels of the country, which stops at the last topics. In a republic things are very different: one that is in last place can join the first. Yet there is a kind of equality among all members of society; they are citizens with respect to the constitution, there is no permanent distinction between them: they are all noble and legislators. But I have observed that it is a tradition for any meeting to decide by majority: sometimes it would be better to decide on the minority!
MF. The temporal power of the church has influenced, not always positively, politics, and not only your French century. What, Marquise, your impressions regarding these political interference?
MoP. I feel religion, but I have difficulty in meeting his ministers, especially since I have known them. The priests want all men to be their equals. I think they are mostly vain, ambitious, bad about the king and bad servants of God. If you talk about why the church, they respond with the Bible. I wonder if such people are in the world as necessary qu’incommodes.
LFH. What future do you foresee for Papal Rome?
. PW All Europe looks today with surprise a Pope who has good sense and that is philosopher (note: we are talking about Benedict XIV). Despite this, he remains a priest, for it is respectable. It surprises me that the king still continue to send ambassadors to priests who can not or do good or evil. I often think of the church and I imagine the poor St. Peter never thought that his successors were to have ambassadors and could simply place above the king.
MF. Would you tell us what are your feelings towards the Catholic religion?
PWD The Christian religion is true, holy and consoling: it is not to destroy, but to eliminate abuses, cut the dead branches, not the tree. It’s true that the majority of priests can destroy it by their ambition and their intolerance. I think they are made to pray and not to govern men. I love the Lord for his goodness.
MF. Madam, how do you consider the women, then you can consider yourself the best expression of your gender in terms of beauty, intelligence, style and elegance?
MoP. The ambition is to please women, but that is not how they live. They may not like that for ten to fifteen years and end up neglecting the spirit that should serve them throughout life, to grow old with serenity. Beautiful women inspire delicate feelings and know how to reason and give good advice because intelligence has no sex. The only difference between the sexes is that ours is more friendly, but we are much more difficult than men to govern!
MF. Madam, you are a superior woman, with high sensitivity: we can not help but ask you a judgment on human intelligence and the great characters of your time.
MoP. When Newton impressed Europe with his sublime ideas, no one would have ever thought that a French wife, Émilie de Châtelet, can not only understand, but also explain it. This confirms that intelligence has no sex. Molière died with the comic genius. Our playwrights do not address the ridiculous, they should attack the vices. We have a thousand different authors, but we have a poet Voltaire. If he does not believe in God, as they say, it’s a shame for him. This does not prevent it to be a great man.
MF. How do you see the greatest of the new French thought and the “Encyclopedia”?
MoP. Someone said the “Encyclopedic Dictionary” contains maxims contrary to religion and the King’s authority. If this is true, we must burn the book if this is wrong, we must burn the slanderers. Montesquieu was a great man and a good citizen. Some of his works were much smaller pleased me. As for the “Spirit of Laws”, I do not have time and perhaps not even the ability to read. These deep readings are not as few women. Voltaire wrote somewhere that women are able to do as well as men, the only difference between us is that we are softer.
MF. What are his favorite authors?
MoP. My favorite is Voltaire, a charming man who pleases and convinces everyone he wants. I did not believe a man can have as much intelligence, eloquence, humanity. I’m surprised its ability to produce as many things so beautiful at her age and it is so bright and human;Rousseau is a little crazy, for all its merits. He writes in a way so singular and arrogant that I did not do too good opinion of his head. He tries to be extravagant, gruff and rude with the same care as the other taking to show pleasant, cheerful and kind. This is not an author for me it is too tight, surly, always biting and polemical. It does not please me.
Annotation: “The above draws extreme value to the fact that we as people crave things we shouldn’t. Life is beautiful and can be made easy. Take your kitchen. It’s easy to make food with just bread and butter. However, we all want the latest food processor or juicer. We always read reviews on the latest juicers. We swap our slow cooker for a pressure cooker. The above statement shows just how easy it is to enjoy life as it is” – David Rawthorne, KitchenReviewsDirect.com.
MF. How do you feed your culture?
. MoP I need an amiable philosophy, sweet, touching, without reasoning, without lawyers quibble; especially without bad mood. I smeared cards, like all. I write my memoirs of my exceptional destiny, about the events that I saw, which are even more extraordinary. I find this a reasonable occupation for a woman over the age of pleasing. These memories will be published after my death. So I would avoid reproaches petty and hateful men, I talk about in my real story, because the dead mock the living.
MF. Marquise – but I could tell Majesty – instead of Favourite of the King of France was satisfactory for your ambition, but you also put in front of homework and situations that a woman assumes difficult. As did you react?
MoP. Ambition is the greatest punishment, especially in the heart of a woman. I almost want to cry on my madness, but I’m still not able to repent. I am alone, amid this multitude of small squires who hate me and I despise. Vanity, the airs, the smallness of mind and falsehood make it unbearable.
MF. The exercise of power door to bliss?
MoP. I pity the great of the earth that are considered so happy. I often cry on the ambition carried me here and keeps me: you will pity my weakness? It is inappropriate for a woman to talk about these things: ambition of most of those is my sex to please men.
MF. Madam, how did you receive the splendor of the Court?
MoP. I realized that I had committed a blunder by coming to court. Pomp, grandeur, the pleasures of this medium delight me more. The charm is over and I can not find in my heart nothing but an immense void that nothing can fill. Sometimes I think differently and I’m happy: we are only instruments of Providence.
MF. Have you thought of giving up your place beside the King?
. MoP I think any time abandon the court and retire to comfort me with my friends, but my weakness restrains me: I hate this world, but I can not leave him.
MF. So … you consider yourself unhappy?
. PW If there is happiness on earth, not in a court to look on; I find only false hopes, false pleasures and false friends who are threatening to murder me, kissing me. Before, I imagined unconsciously that the Court was the seat of smile and fun. It is rather that of tears, at least for me.
MF. How do you see the assiduous frequenters of the Court?
MoP. When I consider the meanness, insolence and servile nature of most of the courtiers, I find much difference between great men and “lords”. Looks like the men escape me to abandon myself to a human form of animal herd, which bore me. I will become probably really philosopher and, after experiencing the vanity of the world, I’ll end up despising. I have not had a pleasant time since I was there. Anyway, I have to make against misfortune good heart, because I wanted it.
MF. Madam, have you many friends?
MoP. I have a lot of knowledge, a lot of “very humble servants” and “humble servitrices” I see no fun and I leave without any grief. Flatterers are fools who think others are made like them.
MF. If you had the freedom to choose, how would you use your time?
. MoP I do not want no other occupation than to do good: it’s the only thing I love. My power is very limited and I would not suffer for having even less, with the purpose to live for myself. The ladies envy me and I envy their freedom. Here the good life that I wish all my enemies. Public misery, hatred of the enemy, boredom of the Court, ill health, wrinkles, I begin to see my face, everything, in short, makes me so sad situation that believes pleasant .
MF. Are you afraid of death?
MoP. Yes, I’m afraid, but not for me, but for those I love and it tears me arms. I often examine my conscience: it is an effect of age. Dead is released. A beautiful woman longer fear the end of the youth’s death.
MF. What do you expect from life?
MoP. Nothing. I had to remove myself from the Court, but I’m weak and I can not stand or abandon it. I have no taste for what I liked before. I no longer live, I died before time. Everyone contributes to making my life bitter. Much hatred and generally make me fiercely extremely sensitive: my life is a continuous death.
MF. Marquise, everyone knows that at Versailles at the Court Theatre, next to famous actors you have played important roles in excellent authors works. Do you consider yourself a good actress and a great protagonist of your time?
. PWD The answer lies in my letters: those who have the curiosity and patience to read them have found that my life is a life story, brief and intensely lived, only for France.