The Goddess of Liberty. On December 10th, 1793, Mlle, Malliard,
an actress, was selected to personify the “Goddess of Liberty.” Being
brought to Notre Dame, Paris, she was seated on the altar, and lighted
a large candle to signify that Liberty was the “light of the world.” (See Louis Blanc: History, ii. 365-367.)
The statue of Liberty, placed over the entrance of the Palais Royal,
was modelled from Mme. Tallien.
The Goddess of Reason.
(Aug. 10, 1793.) The Goddess of Reason was enthroned by the French
Convention at the suggestion of Chaumette; and the cathedral of Notre
Dame de Paris was desecrated for the purpose. The wife of Momoro the
printer was the best of these goddesses. The procession was attended by
the municipal officers and national guards, while troops of ballet
girls carried torches of truth. Incredible as it may seem, Gobet (the
Archbishop of Paris), and nearly all the clergy stripped themselves of
their canonicals, and, wearing red nightcaps, joined in this
blasphemous mockery. So did Julien of Toulouse, a Calvinistic minister.
“Mrs. Momoro, it is admitted, made one of the best goddesses of
Reason, though her teeth were a little defective.” —Carlyle: French
Revolution, vol. iii. book v. 4.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894