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GENLIS

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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 596 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GENLIS, STEPHANIE-FELICITE DU CREST DE SAINTAUBIN, COMTESSE DE (1746-1830), French writer and educator, was born of a noble but impoverished Burgundian family, at Champcery, near Autun, on the 25th of January 1746. When six years of age she was received as a canoness into the noble chapter of Alix; near Lyons, with the title of Madame la Comtesse de Laney, taken from the town of Bourbon-Lancy. Her entire education, however, was conducted at home. In 1758, in Paris, her skill as a harpist and her vivacious wit speedily attracted admiration. In her sixteenth year she was married to Charles Brulart de Genlis, a colonel of grenadiers, who afterwards became marquis de Sillery, but this was not allowed to interfere with her determination to remedy her incomplete education, and to satisfy a taste for acquiring and imparting knowledge. Some years later, through the influence of her aunt, Madame de Montesson, who had been clandestinely married to the duke of Orleans, she entered the Palais Royal as lady-in-waiting to the duchess of Chartres (1770). She acted with great energy and zeal as governess to the daughters of the family, and was in 1781 1 Frederick the Great, iv. iii. 1407. to man, his place being taken by a Juno (cp. Juno Lucina, the goddess of childbirth) in the case of women. The male and female spirit may thus be distinguished respectively as the protector of generation and of parturition (tutela generandi, pariendi), although the female appears less prominent. It is the genius of the paterfamilias that keeps the marriage bed, named after him lectus genialis and dedicated to him, under his special protection. The genius of a man, as his higher intellectual self, accompanies him from the cradle to the grave. In many ways he exercises a decisive influence on the man's character and mode of life (Horace, Epistles, ii. 2. 187). The responsibility for happiness or unhappiness, good or bad fortune, lay with. the genius; but this does not suppose the existence of two genii for man, the one good and. the other bad (ayaOo5aip,wv, xaKOBaLpaw), an idea borrowed from the Greek philosophers. The Roman genius, representing man's natural optimism, always endeavoured to guide him to happiness; that man was intended to enjoy life is shown by the fact than the Roman spoke of indulging or cheating his genius of his due according as he enjoyed himself or failed to do so, when he had the opportunity. A man's birthday was naturally a suitable occasion for honouring his genius, and on that occasion offerings of incense, wine, garlands, and cakes were made (Tibullus ii. 2; Ovid, Tristia, Iu. 13. 18). As the representative of a man's higher self and participating in a divine nature, the genius could be sworn by, and a person could take an oath by his own or some one else's genius. When under Greek influence the Roman idea of the gods became more and more anthropomorphized, a genius was assigned to them, not however as a distinct personality. Thus we hear of the genius of Jupiter (Jovis Genio, C.I.L. 603), Mars, Juno, Pluto, Priapus. In a more extended sense the genius is also the generator and preserver of human society, as manifested in the family, corporate unions, the city, and the state generally. Thus, the genius publicus Populi Romani—probably distinct from the genius Urbis Romae, to whom an old shield on the Capitol was dedicated, with an inscription expressing doubt as to the sex (Genio . . . sire mas sine femina)—stood in the forum near the temple of Concord, in the form of a bearded man, crowned with a diadem, and carrying a cornu copiae and sceptre. It frequently appears on the coins of Trajan and Hadrian. Sacrifice, not confined to bloodless offerings like those of the genius of the house, was offered to him annually on the 8th of October. There were genii of cities, colonies, and even of provinces; of artists, business people and craftsmen; of cooks, gladiators, standard-bearers, a legion, a century, and of the army generally (genius sanctus castrorum peregrinorum totiusque exercitus). In imperial times the genius of Augustus and of the reigning emperor, as part of the sacra of the imperial family, were publicly worshipped. It was a common practice (often compulsory) to swear by the genius of the emperor, and any one who swore falsely was flogged. Localities also, such as theatres, baths, stables, streets, and markets, had their own genius. The word thus gradually lost its original meaning; the nameless local genii became an expression for the universality of the divinum numen and were sometimes identified with the higher gods. The local genius was usually represented by a snake, the symbol of the fruitfulness of the earth and of perpetual youth. Hence snakes were usually kept in houses (Virgil, Aen. v. 95; Persius i. 113), their death in which was considered a bad omen. The personal genius usually appeared as a handsome youth in a toga, with head sometimes veiled and sometimes bare, carrying a drinking cup and cornu copiae, frequently in the position of one offering sacrifice. See W. H. Roscher, Lexikon der Mythologie, and article by J. A. Hild in Daremberg and Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquites, where full references to ancient and modern authorities are given; L. Preller, Romische Mythologie, 3rd ed., by H. Jordan; G. Wissowa, Religion and Kultur der Romer. Apart from the Latin use of the term, the plural " genii " (with a singular " genie ") is used in English, as equivalent to the Arabic jinn, for a class of spirits, good or bad, such as are described, for instance, in The Arabian Nights. But " genius " itself has become the regular English word for the highest appointed by the duke of Chartres to the responsible office of gouverneur of his sons, a bold step which led to the resignation of all the tutors as well as to much social scandal, though there is no reason to suppose that the intellectual interests of her pupils suffered on that account. The better to carry out her ingenious theories of education, she wrote several works for their use, the best known of which are the Theatre d'education (4 vols., 1779-178o), a collection of short comedies for young people, Les Annales de la vertu (2 vols., 1781) and Adele et Theodore (3 vols., 1782). Sainte-Beuve tells how she anticipated many modern methods of teaching. History was taught with the help of magic lantern slides and her pupils learnt botany from a practical botanist during their walks. In 1789 Madame de Genlis showed herself favourable to the Revolution, but the fall of the Girondins in 1793 compelled her to take refuge in Switzerland along with her pupil Mademoiselle d'Orleans. In this year her husband, the marquis de Sillery, from whom she had been separated since 1782, was guillotined. An " adopted " daughter, Pamela,' had been married to Lord Edward Fitzgerald (q.v.) in the preceding December. In 1794 Madame de Genlis fixed her residence at Berlin, but, having been expelled by the orders of King Frederick William, she afterwards settled in Hamburg, where she supported herself for some years by writing and painting. After the revolution of 18th Brumaire (1799) she was permitted to return to France, and was received with favour by Napoleon, who gave her apartments at the arsenal, and afterwards assigned her a pension of 6000 francs. During this period she wrote largely, and produced, in addition to some historical novels, her best romance, Mademoiselle de Clermont (1802). Madame de Genlis had lost her influence over her old pupil Louis Philippe, who visited her but seldom, although he allowed her a small pension. Her government pension was discontinued by Louis XVIII., and she supported herself largely by her pen. Her later years were occupied largely with literary quarrels, notably with that which arose out of the publication of the Diners du Baron d'Holbach (1822), a volume in which she set forth with a good deal of sarcastic cleverness the intolerance, the fanaticism, and the eccentricities of the " philosophes " of the 18th century. She survived until the 31st of December 183o, and saw her former pupil, Louis Philippe, seated on the throne of France. The numerous works of Madame de Genlis (which considerably exceed eighty), comprising prose and poetical compositions on a vast variety of subjects and of various degrees of merit, owed much of their success to adventitious causes which have long ceased to operate. They are useful, however (especially the voluminous Memoires inedits sur le XVIII' siecle, to vols., 1825), as furnishing material for history. Most of her writings were translated into English almost as soon as they were published. A list of her writings with useful notes is given by Querard in La France litteraire. Start-ling light was thrown on her relations with the due de Chartres by the publication (1904) of her correspondence with him in L'Idylle d'un gouverneur " by G. Maugras. See also Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du lundi, vol. Hi.; H. Austin Dobson, Four Frenchwomen (189o) ; L. Chabaud, Les Precurseurs du feminisme (1901); W. de Chabreul, Gouverneur de princes, 1737–183o (190o) ; and Lettres inedites a . . Casimir Baecker, 1802–1830 (1902), edited by Henry Lapauze.
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