Denis Duval Ch. 4–5 [2/5]
[William M Thackeray]
Mental Illness, Obstetrics, Gender, Museums, Collecting, Botanical Gardens, Patronage
The post-natal madness of the Countess de Saverne, who 'often rambled [...] and hummed snatches of tunes and little phrases of dialogue, which she may have heard', leads her to attempt to kill her infant daughter (who she calls 'That little brat who always cries') by leaving her in the incoming tide, but the child is rescued from the sea by the young Denis Duval (387–88). After her estranged husband is killed in a duel, the Countess becomes convinced that she will be burnt at the stake in retribution, and the 'idea seized upon her mind, and never left it' (390). Soon afterwards her 'illness ended as all our illnesses will end one day', and she is buried amidst an anti-Catholic riot (392). A few years later, presumably some time in the 1770s, Denis is taken to London and visits 'Montague House, where I saw stuffed camel-leopards, and all sorts of queer things from foreign countries' (404), as well as 'Kew Gardens and the new Chinese pagoda her Majesty had put up' (405). Here he meets several members of the royal family.
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