Francezkaby MOLLY ELLIOT SEAWELL, HARRISON FISHER
I maintain that my master, Maurice, Count of Saxe, Marshal-general of France, Duke of Courland and Semigallia, Knight of the Most Noble Order of Merit, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the White Eagle, Knight of St. Louis, Knight of St. Stanislaus, and of
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I maintain that my master, Maurice, Count of Saxe, Marshal-general of France, Duke of Courland and Semigallia, Knight of the Most Noble Order of Merit, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the White Eagle, Knight of St. Louis, Knight of St. Stanislaus, and of many other noble Orders—I maintain him, I say, to be the greatest man, the bravest man, the finest man, the handsomest man, the man most dreaded by his foes, the most loved by his friends, the most incomparable with the ladies, the first soldier of all time—in short, the most superb, the most terrible and the most admirable man who ever lived—and I can prove it. alive, and never but twice did I lose my temper over the matter of Count Saxe’s greatness. Once was when a bragging rascal of a pseudo-nobleman from the marches of Brandenburg dared to call this greatness into question, and with offensive words. I gave him his choice of taking a hundred kicks in the stomach or having his ears cut off. He chose the latter, and I sliced one of them off; he begged so hard for the other one that I let it stay on his head.
The second time was with young Gaston Cheverny, who afterward became a devoted adherent of my master—and whose strange story will be told in these pages. I will say, however, it is pretty generally understood when Babache, captain of Count Saxe’s body-guard of Uhlans, sometimes known as the Clear-the-way-boys, or the Storm-alongs, and also as the Devil’s Own, is in the neighborhood, that Count Saxe is the greatest man that ever lived.
I am supposed to be a Tatar prince, by birth, that is; but in truth the only claim I have to either the race or the title is, that I am very ugly. God could have made an uglier man than I am, because He is omnipotent, but I am sure He never did. I accept my ugliness. I can say as the actor at the Théâtre Français said, when the audience hissed him on account of his ugliness—it will be a great deal easier for people to get used to my face than for me to change it.
As to my birthplace, I was born in the Marais, in the cursed town of Paris, and my father was a notary in a small way. So was the father of Monsieur François Marie Arouet, who now calls himself Voltaire—and Count Saxe always swore I could write tragedies and national epics as well as Arouet had I but tried. Especially, as I ever wrote, with the greatest readiness imaginable, a much better hand than Arouet, or Voltaire, or whatever his name is—we knew the fellow well in Paris. But I never laid claim to more than what the English call mother-wit, the Spanish call freckled grammar, and the French call, being born with one’s shirt on. It was, however, my readiness with the pen that first won for me the highest fortune that could befall a man—the patronage, the friendship and the affection of Maurice, Count of Saxe.
Molly Elliot Seawell was the author of forty books, including regional fiction, romances, books for boys (primarily nautical stories), and nonfiction. She also penned political columns for newspapers in Washington, D.C., and New York. Socially conservative, she opposed the growing woman suffrage movement, and her consistent depictions of African Americans as servants and slaves—while acceptable to and endorsed by much of her white readership at that time—reflected her belief that blacks were inferior and peripheral members of society. Despite her social views, critics often described her books, many of which were reviewed in the New York Times, as "sweet" or "wholesome." Though her books boasted vividly drawn characters, they did not pursue the themes and styles of literary realism that characterized the more progressive literary trends of her time. Seawell, however, remained a single woman and worked as a prolific writer who supported her household by her various publications.
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