Today's Featured Biography
Maria Theresa, the Empress of Austria, was not highly educated; and she was incapable of directing the studies of her children, although by precept and example she laid the foundation of characters, all of which became more or less remarkable. Marie Antoinette, her youngest child, was perhaps the most neglected. She once innocently caused the dismissal of her governess, through a confession that all the letters and drawings shown to her mother, in proof of her improvement, had been previously traced with a pencil. At fifteen her knowledge of Italian, studied under Metastasio, was the only branch of her education which had been fairly attended to, if we except considerable conversance with the "Lives of the Saints" and other legendary lore, the favorite fictions of monastic compilers. Nature had, nevertheless, done much for the young archduchess; she possessed great facility for learning, and was not slow in taking advantage of opportunities for improvement when they were afforded. In person she was most attractive. "Beaming with freshness," says Madame Campan, "she appeared to all eyes more than beautiful. Her walk partook at once of the noble character of the princesses of her house and of the graces of the French; her eyes were mild, her smile lovely. It was impossible to refrain from admiring her aerial deportment; her smile was sufficient to win the heart; and in this enchanting being, in whom the splendor of French gayety shone forth, an indescri...
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