One of the freshest and brightest people ever to live. In a dull, respectable Dutch family she was born in 1740, as Isabella-Agnetha-Elisabeth van Serooskeerken van Tuyll of Zuylen, but she felt wild and French, and called herself Belle de Zuylen, then as a novelist Zelide. She was beautiful and passionate and liberated and she loved mathematics to keep her mind clear and supple. When young she toyed with James Boswell; in old age she was the muse of Benjamin Constant.

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