Books: Portrait of a Lady

MEMOIRS OF MADAME DE LA TOUR DU PIN, edited and translated by Felice Harcourt. 468 pages. McCall. $8.95.

Aristocrats make just awful tyrants, admitted that fairest-minded of Frenchmen, Alexis de Tocqueville. But at their best, he insisted, "they rarely entertain groveling thoughts; and they show a kind of haughty contempt for petty pleasures, even when they indulge in them."

A case in point is Henriette-Lucy Dillon, the Marquise de La Tour du Pin. On the first Bastille Day, this remarkable noblewoman was 19 and an apprentice lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette. Her husband was son of the Minister for War. She had...

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