In the Courts of Memory 1858-1875.
L. de Hegermann-Lindencrone
Part 3 out of 7
I cannot tell you how I felt as I was being marshaled up the whole length
of the room, stared at by every one, and criticized, probably, for this
horrible breach of etiquette. I never was so mortified in all my life. I
took my place, speechless and confused, and Prince Murat, who sat on the
other side of me, kept saying, "The Emperor is piping mad." The Prince
Murat is half American (his mother was a Miss Frazier, from New Jersey),
therefore I will forgive him for wanting to tease me.
I suppose I must have looked very red, and I certainly was very out of
breath, for the Emperor, probably noticing my embarrassment, kindly said,
"Don't worry; you are not late."
I told him I had been sight-seeing in Compiègne, and I hoped he would
The Empress smiled and nodded to me in the most gracious manner across the
table, as if to put me at my ease.
The Emperor told me that he had sent up to Paris for a game of croquet,
having heard from Prince Metternich that we all loved so much to play it,
adding that he would like to see the game himself. "We are going to have a
mock battle this afternoon," said he. "All these generals and officers who
are here have come from everywhere to take part I think it will amuse you
to see it, if you have never seen anything of the kind."
I assured him I had never seen a battle, mock or otherwise, and had no
idea what it could be like.
"Well, you shall see," he said.
"Is there," I inquired, "as much firing as yesterday?"
"Much more; but this time with cannons," he replied.
"I hope the cannon-balls are also mock," I ventured to say.
I told the Emperor of the poetry which Gautier had sent to me, and, having
it in my hand, showed it to him, saying, "Ought I to forgive him?"
"You ought to forgive him," he said. "This is the most exquisite thing I
ever have read."
"If your Majesty says so, I will."
The manoeuvers were to commence at two o'clock. All the ladies wore their
hunting-dresses, and I was proud to don my gold button.
The various equipages were waiting to take us to the field.
The Duchess de Persigny, Princess Murat, Baron Beyens, the Marquis de
Caux, and I got in the same carriage; many of the ladies appeared on
horseback. Princess Ghika rode one of the three horses she had brought
with her to Compiègne. Madame de Vatry rode one of the Emperor's.
All the carriages, on reaching the field where the manoeuvers were to take
place, were drawn up in line, in order that every one should have a good
view. Then the Emperor and Empress, on their beautiful horses, and the
Prince Imperial, full of youthful dignity, on his cream-colored pony,
arrived, accompanied by the staff of splendidly uniformed generals and
officers, who took up their positions behind their Majesties before the
The Empress looked radiantly beautiful, her well fitting riding-habit
showing her fine figure to the greatest advantage.
It was, as the Emperor had said, a mock battle, but it seemed to me, not
having had much experience in battles, to be very real.
Officers careered over the field for dear life; orderlies with enormous
flat, four-cornered things flapping across their backs, scurried to and
fro; trumpeters sounded bugles, waved flags, and made signals.... What
could look more real and less mock than this?
It was France _versus_ an imaginary enemy.
It seemed as if the one thing France craved and coveted was a poor, lonely
farm-house in the distance, apparently unprotected. All the stratagems of
war, all the trumpeting and capering about, were brought to bear on
conquering that little house. The artillery collided up against it; the
infantry, with drums beating, marched boldly to the very door-steps; the
cavalry pranced around it.... But for the life of me, though I was staring
as hard as I could through my opera-glasses, I could not tell whether
France had got it or not. However, there was so much smoke, it might have
capitulated without my noticing. I suppose the generals knew.
It made me think of Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade."
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them,
Volley'd and thunder'd.
The guns and cannons kept up such a continual firing that the ground
actually shook under our feet.
I wondered why so much powder and energy should be wasted on a helpless
farm-house, and dreaded to think what the real thing must he, if this was
When it was apparently finished, and every one in the neighborhood had
surrendered, they sounded a grand fanfare, and blew a mighty blast of
trumpets, the officers dashed up full tilt to the Emperor, and announced,
"Victory all along the line!"
I can't tell you how sweet the little Prince looked when he distributed
the _médaille de mérite_ to the brave warriors, who received it with
due modesty, saluting gravely.
The Emperor rode about among the carriages and asked us ladies how we had
liked it, and if there had been too much noise.
The company at dinner to-night looked particularly brilliant; there must
have been a hundred and fifty people present, as the generals and the
officers were asked to remain to dinner. I had one general next to me at
table, the famous General Changarnier, who my other neighbor said had one
foot in the grave and the other _dans le plat_. He was so old and thin and
bony that if his uniform had not kept him up he would have crumbled
together before my eyes, and have become a zero instead of a hero.
However, he kept together while dinner lasted, for which I was thankful,
and I returned him safely to posterity and to the salon.
Their Majesties devoted themselves exclusively to the Army after dinner;
but they sent word by a chamberlain that we were to commence dancing,
though they had not finished the _cercle_.
Waldteufel was already seated at the piano, waiting.
The officers danced vigorously. The elder ones ventured on quadrilles, and
danced them with great gusto.
Prince Murat, noticing the old general skipping about so youthfully,
proposed a Virginia reel, with a view to giving them a little more
Every one entered into the spirit of it; but there were only a few who
knew how to dance it.
Both Prince and Princess Metternich had learned it at Petit Val. Madame
Gallifet knew it as "Sir Roger de Coverley" from her English days, and
Prince Murat must have learned it from his American mother.
The Emperor danced with me, as he said he would only dance with an
The Empress had Count Golz for her partner, and stood next to me; Princess
Metternich (full of fun) chose one of the most ancient warriors. Madame de
Persigny and Prince Murat were at the end of the line; the other guests
filled the intermediate places.
Prince Metternich, knowing the music, thought he was absolutely necessary
at the piano, consequently he took Waldteufel's place there.
I, as "the expert," led off. The Emperor tried to imitate me, but became
confused by the constant shouting from his cousin (Prince Murat) at the
other end. However, he and I managed to finish our part; but the Emperor
refused to be swung, and we marched down the middle of the line, hand in
hand, disregarding the rules in a truly royal manner. Then, having watched
the Empress go through her part (she also marched down in a royal manner),
the Emperor seemed bored at looking at the others, and called the Marquis
de Caux to take his place. Next, Prince Metternich began improvising reels
of his own invention, which turned into all sorts of fantastic measures,
which were impossible to dance by. Madame de Persigny, in turning, fell
flat on her back; every one rushed to her rescue, which caused great
confusion, as people lost their places and could not find them again.
This brought our famous reel, which proved to be a dead failure, to an
abrupt close; and the old generals, for whose sake we danced it, never got
a chance to show what they could do; and we were thankful when Waldteufel
returned to the piano and played a waltz, to which we could dance until it
was time for the Emperor's tea, and then,
DEAR M.,--Baron Haussmann took me in to _déjeuner_ this morning. The
Baron is the Préfet de Paris. He is very tall, bulky, and has an
authoritative way of walking ahead and dragging his partner after him,
which makes one feel as if one was a small tug being swept on by a man-of-
war! I wondered if the _Cent Gardes_ noticed how I tripped along, taking
two steps to his one, until he reached his seat at the table, into which
he dropped with a sigh of relief.
His body in profile defies any one's looking around the corner, so to
speak. I could only see at intervals Marquise Chasselouplobat's shapely
elbows and hands. Our conversation turned on the new improvements he
intends to make in Paris. He asked me how I liked the boulevard of his
name, just completed.
"I like it," I answered, "though it has deprived us of a good part of our
garden." (It had cut off just half of it.)
"It brings you nearer the Bois," he added. "I hope the Government paid you
well for it."
"I suppose the Government thinks it did; but our croquet-ground is gone
"Forever!" he repeated. "Where do you play now?"
"Sometimes at the Austrian embassy."
"Is its garden large enough for that?"
I answered, "It is not large enough for a real croquet-ground; but the
ambassador is such an ardent player that he has arranged a place under the
trees where we play--sometimes at night with lamps on the ground."
"I should think that would be very difficult; quite impossible, in fact."
"What else can we do? We have no other place."
After a moment's hesitation he asked, "How would you like it if I put a
piece of ground in the Bois at your disposal?"
I could have screamed with joy! What a piece of news to tell my friends
after breakfast. I chanted a little _Gloria_ under my breath, and asked
him if he really meant it. He said, "Of course I mean it, and as soon as I
return to Paris I will have the formal papers made out and sent to you,
and you can claim the ground when you like." He added, gallantly, "I will
have the document made out in your name, Madame, in souvenir of our
Is he not a very generous man? But if every time he sits next to a lady he
gives her a slice of the Bois de Boulogne he will soon be out of the
You can readily imagine the delight of my fellow-players when I told them
all this after our return to the salon.
The weather looked unsettled; no one felt like driving or walking.
However, later, the wind veered about, the sun came out of the heavy
clouds, our spirits rose with the barometer, the elements seemed to point
to outdoor amusements. What better than a game of croquet?
The Emperor, as I said before, had sent to Paris for the game, and Prince
Metternich felt it would be rude not to use it. We have been playing it so
much this year that we have quite got it on the brain, and we were very
excited and most eager to play, and orders were given to have the box
brought out on the terrace.
Both their Majesties were highly interested; they examined everything with
the greatest curiosity, unwrapped the balls themselves, and were quite
anxious to begin.
The question was, where should the game be put up, and where should the
wickets be put down? The lawn was wet, the gravel walks were too narrow.
The only place that could be found was under the _charmille_ on the
terrace, where stood a grove of old platane trees.
Prince Metternich was, of course, the moving spirit, and undertook to
manage everything. He and d'Espeuilles got a meter measure and measured
off the distances with great care and precision before placing the
wickets. This took a long time. Then he distributed the mallets and the
corresponding balls to each person, and we stood in front of our weapons
ready to commence. Prince Metternich was so long and particular about
telling the rules that he succeeded only in confusing all the beginners.
The Empress was to play with the Prince Metternich, the Marquis de
Gallifet with the Princess Metternich. The Emperor was to play with the
Marquise de Gallifet, Monsieur d'Espeuilles was to play with me:--eight
people in all! Nothing is so dreadful as a game of croquet with people
four of whom are beginners.
The Empress was the first to play; her ball was placed so near the wicket
that nothing short of genius could have prevented her from going through,
which she did with great triumph; her next stroke went far beyond, and she
worried it back by a succession of several pushing knocks into its
position. No one made any remarks. Then the Emperor made a timid stroke,
which gently turned the ball over. Prince Metternich remarked that he (the
Emperor) should hit harder, at which his Majesty gave such a whack to his
ball that it flew into the next county.
"Never mind," said Prince Metternich, and put another ball in front of the
Emperor's mallet, and somehow it got through the wicket.
Princess Metternich played next, and she was an adept, so all went well
with her. I came after her, and managed to get his Majesty's ball on its
way a bit. Tiresome pauses and long explanations followed.
Prince Metternich shouted, trying to rally the players.
"Marquis, where are you?" disturbing the Marquis from a flirtation. "It is
your turn to play."
"Really; what shall I do?"
"Try to hit this ball."
"_Par exemple!_ Which ball? Where is it? I do not even see it."
"Here it is behind this tree, if you _caramboler_ against the tree you
might hit it." And in this way it went on until the Emperor, bored to
death, slowly disappeared and the Empress suddenly discovered that her
feet were cold and went away, and couples flirtatiously inclined began
wandering off, and it was nearly dark and tea-time before Prince
Metternich (who was worn out trying to make people understand or take any
interest in the game) realized that there were only a few devotees left on
the battle-field amid damaged trees and chipped balls.
So ended our game of croquet; we felt crushed and crestfallen.
At the Empress's tea, to which we were bidden, we were not spared
satirical gibes on the subject of our luckless game.
The Marquis de Gallifet, _Officier d'Ordonnance de l'Empereur_, whom
I sat next to at dinner, is what one might call sarcastic--he actually
tears people to pieces; he does not leave them with a shred of reputation,
and what he does not say he implies. He thinks nothing of saying, "He!
He's an abominable scoundrel. She! She is a shameless coquette!" and so
forth. He spares no one; nevertheless, he is most amusing, very
intelligent, and an excellent talker. He told me of his awful experience
in the war of Mexico. He had been shot in the intestines and left for dead
on the field of battle. He managed, by creeping and crawling, "_toujours
tenant mes entrailles dans mon képi_" to reach a peasant's house, where
the good people took care of him until he was able to be transported to a
hospital. There he stayed through a dismal year of suffering. In order to
keep the above-mentioned _entrailles_ in their proper place, the doctors
covered them with a silver plate. "I had my name engraved on it," he said.
He asked me, "Did you ever hear anything like that?" I tried to fancy how
any one would look placarded like that, but replied that I had never heard
of anything quite so awful; but I _had_ heard that every cloud had a
silver lining. He laughed and said, "I shall call myself a cloud in
The dinner to-night was very good. I give you the menu:
Potage tortue clair,
Crème de volaille,
Brisotins de foie gras,
Filet de boeuf à la moderne,
Suprême de perdreaux,
Homards à la Parisienne,
Petits pois à l'Anglaise,
Café--Liqueur (both served at the table).
Dinner over, we filed before the _Cent Gardes_ in their shining uniforms
through the long gallery.
It was earlier than usual when we began to dance; but we were (at least I
was) interrupted by receiving a message from their Majesties, asking me if
I would kindly sing something for them. Of course I did not refuse, and we
adjourned to the music-room, where the Erard piano was.
[Illustration: THE MUSIC HALL--CHÂTEAU DE COMPIÈGNE]
I did not exactly know what to sing; but Prince Metternich soon relieved
my mind on that score by saying, "Don't bother about singing anything
serious, and especially _don't_ sing anything classical." The Princess
Metternich could accompany anything which was not too difficult; therefore
we thought I had better sing "_Ma mère était bohémienne_," of Massé, which
I did. I saw directly that this melodramatic music, beautiful as it is,
did not suit the occasion, for though the gaily attuned audience was
visibly affected by the phrase, _Et moi j'ai l'âme triste_, they did not
show more signs of emotion than by making a little dab at their eyes with
The Princess remained at the piano, ready to accompany the other songs I
had brought, which were of the same character, and I stood by her, trying
to decide what I should sing next, when the Emperor came up and asked me
for "Beware!" Charles accompanied that, and I sang it. The Empress asked
me if I would sing some Spanish songs for her. I sang "Chiquita," which I
learned with Garcia, and the "_Habañero_." She seemed very pleased, and
made me many compliments. Then the Emperor begged me for some negro songs,
and asked me if I knew "Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground," or "Suwanee
River," or "Nelly Bly," all of which he remembered having heard in
I sat down at the piano and commenced with "Suwanee River." I fortunately
knew the words of that.
(Oh, Delsarte! what would you have said had you seen your pupil singing
this claptrap music before your sovereigns and their most distinguished
Delsarte says that one can force the tears into one's eyes, one can make
one's lips tremble, one can express the most harrowing emotions in one's
voice, and not sing more than "do, re, mi, fa." I tried to profit by his
teachings, and brought them to bear upon the pathetic words of "Oh,
darkies, how my heart grows weary," and I could see that both their
Majesties were deeply moved. I sang the word "weary" with such pathos that
every one was more or less affected, and the phrase, "All the world is
dark and dreary," I rendered in the most heart-broken tones.
I was sorry that I could not remember the words of "Massa's in the Cold,
Cold Ground," as the Emperor wanted it; but I could not. I knew the music
of "Nelly Bly," but had never known the words, so I tried to improvise
some; but it was impossible for me to think of more than two words which
rhymed with "Bly," and those were "sly" and "eye."
With shameful _aplomb_ I sang these senseless words:
Nelly Bly wipes her eye,
On her little frock,
Nelly Bly, Nelly Bly,
Dick a dick a dock.
Happily the Emperor did not notice anything wrong, and was delighted to
hear those old songs again, and thanked me repeatedly.
Once seated at the piano, I was not allowed to leave it until my
_répertoire_ of music of this character had been exhausted.
This brought the evening to a close.
Tea was served; their Majesties withdrew, and I fled to my apartment
feeling that metaphorically I was covered with laurels.
DEAR A.,--To-day I was very high up, _'way up in the clouds_, for I sat
next to the Emperor.
Davilliers, one of the chamberlains, gave me his arm and conducted me to
my place. The Emperor's first words were:
"I can't thank you enough for the pleasure you gave us last evening."
I tried to express my pleasure at these kind words.
"Did you see how we were affected when you sang 'Suwanee River'? I thought
to laugh, instead of which I cried; how could you make it so pathetic?"
"That is my teacher's art," I replied.
"Who is your teacher?"
"Monsieur Delsarte. Your Majesty has perhaps heard of him?"
"No," answered the Emperor. "I have never heard of him. Is he a great
"He cannot sing at all, your Majesty; but he has wonderful theories which
go to prove that one does not need any voice at all to sing; one only
needs features to express one's emotions."
"He must be wonderful," the Emperor remarked.
"He is, your Majesty, and quite unique in his way. He says, for instance,
when he sings, 'J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,' and comes to 'Tu
n'en auras pas,' he can make people shed bitter tears, as though it were
too much to bear."
"His tobacco must be very good?" laughed the Emperor.
"It is the worst thing of its kind, your Majesty, one can imagine," I
"Is it perhaps Caporal?" said he, with a merry twinkle in his eye.
"I don't know anything about military grades, but, if there were anything
lower than a Caporal I should say it was the name of his tobacco."
"Well," he said, "if he taught you to sing as you sing, _il mérite de la
The Emperor was perfectly delightful, witty, amusing, and laughing
continually, with such a keen appreciation he seemed really to enjoy
As the programme in our room this morning read, _chasse à courre_, on
went the green dress for the second time, and, of course, the button. The
Duchess de Fernan Nuñez asked me to drive with her, which I was happy to
do, as I like her very much. We sat on the front seat, so as to have the
best view of the proceedings.
The Emperor and Empress were on horseback; all the gentlemen were in red
coats, white breeches, top-boots, and velvet caps, which made them look
The rendezvous was at the Carrefour l'Étoile, and when we arrived the
hunters and equipage, with the _piqueurs_ and the _chasseurs_ from the
neighborhood, who belonged to the Imperial Hunt, were already there.
The Imperial _équipage de chasse_ is composed of ten _piqueurs, valets de
chien, valets à pieds, valets à cheval_, and _valets de limiers_, and one
hundred English hounds. The hounds are trained by the use of drags, which
are, as perhaps you know, bundles of something saturated in blood, which
the horses drag and the scent of which the hounds follow. The carriages
were drawn up on the side of the road to wait until their Majesties
The ladies dressed in rich furs and velvets, the riders in brilliant red
coats on prancing horses, the attendant grooms, the _piqueurs_ in their
gay liveries, green and gold with green-velvet jockey caps, made a
wonderful spectacle. The day was superb, the sun shone brilliantly through
the autumn foliage, the hazy distances were of a tender hue, and
everything had an exquisite tint. Never shall I forget it!
Unfortunately our coachman neglected to follow the other carriages, and we
drove about a long time before we discovered that we were on the wrong
road, and then he became quite bewildered and seemed to lose his head
After driving from one cross-road to another, we at last chanced upon
Monsieur de Bourgogne, who told us that he was just in advance of their
Majesties, and that they would be there presently. He said that we had
better wait where we were, as the stag would probably pass by that way.
It seemed as if, in fact, we must be near, as we could hear the dogs
yelping and the horns sounding (they call it "hallali"). Count de Grammont
rode up to us and said we had better follow him, as we would then soon
come in sight of the hunters. Despite all these contradictory advices, our
coachman managed to arrive on the scene of action just in time for us to
see the poor stag, who had taken to the water for dear life (they call it
_bat l'eau_), and the dogs in a frenzy of excitement barking furiously and
plunging after him.
We could not see _all_ that happened, thank heaven! as our carriage was
behind the whole assembled crowd.
With my tenderness toward all animals, my heart ached for the poor beast,
and I hoped sincerely that he would escape his cruel pursuers. I could not
see any pleasure or excitement in watching this painful spectacle, and was
glad when the time came to turn our backs on the whole thing and return to
At the Empress's tea no one talked of anything else but the events of the
afternoon. I pretended that I had seen it all, even to the very end.
Princess Ghika, beaming all over with joy, was given the foot, as she was
in at the death.
Count de l'Aigle took me in to dinner. He is one of the neighbors, not one
of the guests; but, as he belongs to the Imperial Hunt, he is always
invited to this dinner.
The Empress looked superb in a brown tulle over satin, looped up with
brooches of diamonds. She had had a diamond crescent in her hair like
Diana. The Marquise de Gallifet was lovely in light-green tulle, with an
aigret of diamonds in her blond hair.
The table was arranged most appropriately for the occasion, decorated by
the whole _biscuit de Sèvres service de chasse_. Every one seemed gay
and stimulated by the excitement of the day.
When the usual after-dinner ceremonies and the _cercle_ in the salon were
terminated, the Grand Chamberlain announced to his Majesty that all was
ready for the _curée_, which was awaiting his permission to begin.
The Emperor and the Empress led the way into the long gallery, which
overlooks the _cour d'honneur_. We ladies had provided ourselves with
wraps and shawls, as we knew we should need them either on the balcony or
at the windows of the gallery, of which there are about twenty.
The Empress braved the weather and stood out on the balcony with the
Emperor, well wrapped in furs, for the night was cold; and the gentlemen,
not finding sufficient room, went below and stood on the steps of the
"Perron," which gives on to the courtyard.
All the lackeys, valets, grooms, in fact, all the household servants,
formed a large circle in the enormous _cour d'honneur_ opposite the
Imperial balcony, all bearing flaming torches made of tar, which lighted
up the whole place. Behind these stood the populace of Compiègne, who are
allowed to be present on these occasions.
At the farther side of the courtyard, and directly opposite their
Majesties, the chief huntsman held up the skin of the stag, which
contained the entrails, waving it backward and forward, in order to excite
the hounds. The _piqueurs_ stood in front of the "Perron," holding the
dogs back with great difficulty, for they were struggling to get loose,
and yelping in their eagerness and greediness to rush forward.
As the _chasseur_ waved the skin, the _piqueurs_ let the hounds loose, and
when they were half-way across the court, approaching the object of their
desire, the _piqueurs_ called them back, in order to show how well
disciplined and under what complete control they were.
The tantalizing of the poor animals was repeated several times. At last
the fanfare was sounded, and the hounds were allowed to rush forward midst
the tooting of horns, the cracking of whips, and the cries and shouts of
the crowd. The torches were waved high in the air, giving a weird light to
the whole scene, and the entrails at last were thrown to the dogs, and
before you could say "Jack Robinson" everything was devoured. You can
picture to yourself what a unique and fantastic sight this must have been!
It was eleven o'clock when we returned to the salon, where tea and
refreshments were served. Those returning to Paris took leave of their
Majesties and drove to the station, where the special Imperial train
provided for them was waiting.
Later their Majesties took leave of us.
We lingered a little, as it was our last evening.
On returning to my apartment, I saw on my table a package, on which was
written, _De la part de l'Empereur_. You can imagine how eager I was to
open it. Those magic words brought untold visions before my eyes. What
might it not be?
I opened the package feverishly, and what was my surprise and
_disappointment_ to find a rather ordinary-looking _tabatière_ and a
package of tobacco, written on it, _Du bon tabac pour le maître de chant
de Madame Moulton_.
Was it not a cruel blow?
Here we are again in Paris, glad to be at home after our gay week in
Compiègne, charming and delightful as it was; there is always great
fatigue and tension attending such visits. To-day I luxuriate in one
dress; no changing five times a day. I allowed my maid to go out for the
day, and we are going to dine at a restaurant.... What a contrast! It
seems as if I had been away a month!
Before we left Compiègne yesterday, when we were taking our morning tea,
we were interrupted by the coming in of the majordomo, who handed us a
paper. We were not unprepared for this visit, as we had been told by one
of the guests, who had been here before, that every one was expected to
remain in their rooms until this important personage had made his rounds,
in order to collect the _pourboire_. I say THE _pourboire_, because what
one generally gives separately is lumped into one sum. This paper, which
he handed to us almost at the point of his _hallebarde_, proved to be a
_già scritto_ receipt for six hundred francs--our _pourboire!_
During breakfast yesterday the Emperor took up his glass, and, looking at
me across the table, drank my health. Among the guests there was a great
deal of health-drinking.
Gustave Doré had made some very clever caricatures of some events which he
had drawn beautifully and touched off with aquarelle, as he alone could do
it. The little album was passed stealthily from hand to hand under the
shelter of the table, with the strictest injunctions not to let any one
see it except your _immediate_ neighbor! With these injunctions it managed
to travel about half-way down the table.
He had made a lovely sketch of her Majesty driving a chariot like the
"Aurora" in the Rospigliosi Gallery, and had depicted the Emperor seated
on an enormous white horse, leading a charge of cavalry, his arm uplifted.
The Princess Metternich was represented as the coachman in the charade,
hat on one side, pipe in her mouth, and looking very _débonnaire_. Prince
Metternich was shown standing in the middle of an arena, in full
diplomatic uniform, with masses of decorations and _cordons_. He had a
long whip, such as are used in circuses, and men and women (meaning us,
I suppose) capering around doing their tricks.
The sketch of Madame de Persigny was very funny. A mass of tulle
petticoats, in the midst of which two little feet in the air, and a crown
rolling away in the distance.
The picture he made of me was the mechanical doll, ribbons floating all
about, and on every turn of the ribbons was written "Beware!"
The diplomat's shoe was not forgotten. There was a table a mile long, and
at the very end of it a little shoe seen underneath.
We were in our traveling costumes, and on our return to the salon their
Majesties went about saying pleasant and gracious things to every one.
They hoped we would remember our visit with as much pleasure as they
There was a greater animation than usual, and less ceremony; people talked
louder and with less restraint; every one bade good-by to the ladies and
gentlemen of the Household who remained. The Empress gave her hand to be
kissed by the gentlemen (some of them, not all), kissed some ladies, and
shook hands with others.
When their Majesties were ready to dismiss us they bowed, and we all
departed to get our hats and wraps,
I gave a lingering look at the lovely rooms I was leaving, which were now
devoid of our trunks and little personal trinkets, nodded a farewell to
our particular valet, who was probably thinking already of our successors,
descended _l'Escalier d'honneur_, and passed through the beautiful
_Galerie des Gardes_ to the colonnades, where the _chars-à-bancs_ were
ready waiting to carry us to the station. We were a rather subdued party
in the train; the conversation mostly turned on the subject of
_pourboires_. The _huissier_ decides the exact amount that each ought to
give. For instance, he knows an ambassador ought to give two thousand
francs. For a minister of state one thousand francs suffices. Unofficial
people like ourselves cannot be expected to be out of pocket more than six
hundred francs. As for the poor nobility of France, they escape with five
Some were of opinion that it was pleasanter to give _en masse_, in one big
sum, than to give in driblets; others thought it more satisfactory to hand
one's offering personally to the different servants; but we all, with one
voice, voted the officious beadle an imposition.
The daily expenses of Compiègne, so the _Gouverneur de la Maison_ told us,
and he ought to know, are not less than ten thousand francs a day, and
there are more than nine hundred people living in the Palace at a time, to
be fed and warmed.
To-day, at five o'clock, the fourth _série_ will come; it is called _la
série des oubliés_, as ours was called _la série élégante_. The first is
called _la série obligatoire_, the second _les ennuyeux_.
We found our carriage at the station. Our simple coupé seemed a great
come-down from the beautiful carriages we had been driving in, and good
Louis and the footman, in their quiet liveries, seemed in fierce contrast
to the gorgeous creatures we had been familiar with so lately.
The family is at Petit Val, and we remain there quietly until January.
We found among our belongings an enormous _bourriche_, containing a
quantity of game, hares, pheasants, and so forth.
Good night! I am tired.
DEAR M.,--You will have heard so much about the Exposition, that I cannot
tell you anything new. It is now in full swing, and I think it is
magnificent. Of course I cannot compare it to any other, as it is the only
one that I have ever seen.
I have a season ticket (costing one hundred francs) containing my
photograph and my autograph; therefore no one but myself can use it. The
Exposition building is round, and the section of one thing goes through
all the countries; for instance, art, which seems to be the smallest
thing, is in the inner circle. If you only want to study one particular
industry you go round the circle; but if you want to study a country you
go down a section. The outer circle is for machinery, and outside in the
grounds, in front of the different countries, are the cafés belonging to
them. Here you can listen to the different national musics, and see the
different national types and costumes, and eat the different national
foods. We go almost every day, and it is always a delight. You can see the
whole art of cutting diamonds, from the gravel in which they are found to
their final polish. The villa of the Bey of Tunis, a Buddhist temple, a
Viennese bakery, where people flock to taste the delicious rolls hot from
the oven, and where Hungarian bands of highly colored handsome zitherists
play from morning till night, and a hundred other attractions, make the
Exposition a complete success. You pass from one lovely thing to the
other. The gardens are laid through avenues of trees and shrubs, where
fountains play, and beds of flowers and bouquets of plants are arranged
with the most artistic taste. All these wonders will in six months' time
be reduced to the level and monotony of the Champ de Mars. One can't
believe that these large horse-chestnut trees in full bloom are only
temporary visitors, like the people.
The Prince Oscar of Sweden (he will one day be the King) came often to the
Exposition, and went about with us. He was very much interested in
everything he saw, especially in the American Steinway pianos. He sent me
several times some of the famous punch they make in Sweden, also some
silver brooches which the Swedish peasants wear. He has a _bateau mouche_,
in which he takes his friends up and down the Seine. The Princess Mathilde
and Madame de Gallifet were of the party last Monday. We _mouched_ as far
as Boulogne, where Baron James Rothschild has a charming place called
Bagatelle, which the Prince wanted very much to see.
We got out of the boat and walked up to the entrance of the park; but the
porter refused, in spite of all pleadings, to let us in, and was almost
rude until Monsieur Dué mentioned the name of the illustrious visitor;
then the gates were thrown wide open, and we walked in and all over the
place. The porter, becoming most humble and servile, offered to escort us
over the house, and even asked us to take tea; but we did not succumb to
either of these temptations.
There are so many kings and sovereigns here: the Emperor of Russia, who is
very handsome and stately; the King of Prussia, who is accompanied by the
colossal Count Bismarck, very noticeable in his dazzling white uniform,
and wearing a shining helmet with an enormous spread eagle on top of it,
which made him tower still more above ordinary mortals, and reminded me of
all the mythological heroes I knew of. He clanked his sword on the
pavement, quite indifferent to the stare of wondering Frenchmen, and was
followed by several other tall Germans, who regarded everything _de haut
en bas_ with Teutonic phlegm. The Prince of Italy (Umberto) looks rather
small by the side of these German giants. The Khedive of Egypt, the Shah
of Persia, the ex-Queen of Spain, and other sovereigns are flitting
The Baron James Rothschild invited us to go to Ferrière's with Prince
Oscar of Sweden. That was very amusing! We had a special train from Paris
and Rothschild's special car; when we arrived at Ferrière's we first had
refreshments, then we walked in the grounds till it was time to dress for
dinner. We met before dining in the enormous salon in the center of the
château. This salon is two stories high, with a gallery around it, and was
so large that a billiard-table in one corner seemed too small to be
noticed, and the concert-grand piano standing at the other end looked
insignificant. The dining-table was beautifully decorated with garlands of
roses and a whole collection of antique goblets, worth a fortune. There
were huge bouquets of roses for the ladies, almost too big to carry.
Prince Oscar's brother had once written a very pretty song, called "I
Rosens duft," which some one had arranged as a duet, and the Prince wanted
me to sing it with him (he had thoughtfully brought the music). All
through dinner he was teaching me the Swedish words, so that we could sing
it afterward. He was so intent (and so was I) that every one, I am sure,
thought we were having a tremendous flirtation, as they saw our heads
almost touching when he was writing the words on the menu. He also wrote a
poem to me (which I inclose), which he said he composed on the spot. How
can he be so clever?
PRINCE OSCAR'S POEM
WRITTEN AT THE DINNER-TABLE AT LAFERRIÈRE'S 1867
Din sång, hur skön, hur underbar!
En balsamdoft på dina läppar hvila,
En välljudsström från ditt hjarta ila,
Vill mana fram ur verldens haf ett svar:
Din sång, hur skön, hur underbar!
Din ton, hur stark, hur ljuf, hur ren!
En altareld som ingen flägt få störa,
Och dock en storm som sjalens djup kan röra,
En glod som smalta kan "de visas sten":
Så är din ton--så stark, så ren.
Sjung mer, sjung mer, det här så godt
En stund få glämma verldens hvimmel
Och lyss till samklang ur en öppnad himmel,
Om ock för en minut i drömma blott:
Sjung mer, sjung mer, det gör mit hjärta godt.
Your voice, how beautiful, how wonderful!
A perfume of balsam rests on your lips,
A torrent of melody rushes from your heart,
That can only be echoed by the world's ocean:
Your voice, how beautiful, how wonderful!
Your voice, how full of power, how enchanting and pure!
A sacred fire which no breeze can trouble,
And yet a tempest that stirs the very soul,
A glowing flame which can melt the philosopher's stone:
Such is your voice--so powerful, so pure.
Sing more, sing more, it is so good
For one moment to forget the tumult of this world
And listen to the harmony of a heaven unveiled,
And if only for a moment to dream:
Sing more, sing more, it makes my heart rejoice.
We sang the duet after dinner with such success that we had to repeat it.
Before our departure there was a grand display of fireworks: O's appeared
in every dimension and design, and a blaze of fire and Bengal lights in
rapid succession kept us in a continual state of admiration.
I received a little note from Jenny Lind. She is in Paris, and wished to
know when she could come to see me. I wrote to her directly that I would
let Monsieur Auber know, and he would probably come at four o'clock (his
usual hour). Therefore, it all came about. Jenny Lind came, so did Auber.
The meeting was a pleasure to them both. They talked music, art, told many
anecdotes of celebrated acquaintances: Alboni, Nilsson, Patti, etc. He had
brought some of his music with him, and Jenny Lind and I sang the duo of
his latest opera "Le Premier Jour de Bonheur." He consulted me as to
whether he might dare to ask her to dine with him, with a few congenial
spirits. I said I was sure she would be enchanted to do so, which she was.
As to the congenial spirits, Auber suggested the Metternichs, Gounod, Duke
de Massa, and ourselves, making ten in all.
No one refused, and we had the most delightful dinner. The Princess
proposed to Auber to give his arm to Jenny Lind, and to put her at his
right hand, _la place d'honneur_, adding, with her most ironical smile,
"le génie avant la beauté." Auber made a charming host, telling one funny
anecdote after the other in his quiet and typical manner. Gounod, in his
low and drawly voice, said: "Vous nous donnez, mon cher Auber, des choses
par trop ennuyeuses aux concerts du Conservatoire. A la pensée des
'Quatre saisons' de Haydn je m'endors. Pourquoi ne s'est-il pas contenté
d'une saison?" Princess Metternich replied, "Que probablement en les
composant Haydn s'est mis en quatre." "La moitié m'aurait suffi," said
Auber; "pour moi, elles sont toutes _mon automne_." (monotone).
When we returned to the salon we discreetly waited for the promised song.
Suddenly Jenny Lind jumped up, saying, "Shall I sing something?"
Of course, every one was wild to hear her. She went to the piano and
accompanied herself in "Qui la voce," of "I Puritani." We were all
enchanted, clapping our hands with enthusiasm. Then Gounod played and
sang, or rather hummed, a new song of his, saying to Jenny Lind, when he
took his place at the piano, "I am not worthy to succeed you."
We thought him much too modest.
He _hummed_ deliriously!
They asked me to sing, and, though I really hated to sing after these
great artists, I did so to please Auber, who accompanied me in "Los
Djins," of which he is very proud, because it has the same bass all the
way through. How little it takes to please genius!
After this Jenny Lind and I performed the duo from "Le Premier Jour de
Bonheur" we had practised at my house. She put her arm around my waist
while we were singing, as if we were two school-girls.
Prince Metternich played one of his brilliant Austrian waltzes, which was
so bewildering that if any man had dared to put his arm round Jenny Lind's
matronly waist I am sure she would have skipped off in the dance.
For _la bonne bouche_ she gave us a Swedish peasant song, which was simply
bewitching. Her high notes were exquisitely pure, the lower ones I thought
weak; but that might have been owing to the good dinner she had eaten--at
least she said so.
There is a musical phenomenon here just now in the shape of an American
negro; he is blind and idiotic, but has a most extraordinary intelligence
for music. All his senses seem to have been concentrated in this one
sense. Prince and Princess Metternich, Auber, and ourselves went to his
concert. Auber said, "Cet idiot, noir et aveugle, est vraiment
merveilleux." Blind Tom had learned his _répertoire_ entirely by ear;
therefore it was very limited, as he could only remember what he had heard
played a few days before. His memory did not last long. He was wonderful.
Not only could he execute well, but he could imitate any one's mannerisms
and their way of playing. The impresario came forward, saying, "I am told
that Monsieur Auber is in the audience. May I dare to ask him to come up
and play something?" Auber said he thought he should die of fright. We all
urged him, for the curiosity of the thing, to play something of his new
opera, which no one as yet had heard, therefore no one could have known
Auber mounted the platform, amid the enthusiastic applause of the
audience, and performed his solo. Then Blind Tom sat down and played it
after him so accurately, with the same staccato, old-fashioned touch of
Auber, that no one could have told whether Auber was still at the piano.
Auber returned and bowed to the wildly excited public and to us. He said,
"This is my first appearance as a pianist, and my last."
Prince Metternich, inspired by Auber's pluck, followed his example, and
mounting the stage rattled off one of his _own fiery_, dashing waltzes,
which Blind Tom repeated in the Prince's particular manner. After the
concert we went into the artist's room to speak with the impresario, and
found poor Tom banging his head against the wall like the idiot he was.
Auber remarked, "C'est humiliant pour nous autres."
PARIS, _June, 1867._
DEAR M.,--The famous pianist Liszt, the new Abbé, is pervading Paris just
now, and is, I think, very pleased to be a priestly lion, taking his
success as a matter of course. There are a succession of dinners in his
honor, where he does ample honor to the food, and is in no way bashful
about his appetite.
He does a great deal of beaming, he has (as some one said) "so much
He dined with us the other night, the Metternichs, and twenty-five other
people, among whom were Auber and Massenet.
In the boudoir, before dinner, he spied a manuscript which Auber had
brought that afternoon. He took it up, looked at it, and said, "C'est très
joli!" and laid it down again. When we went in to dinner, and after his
cigar in the conservatory (he is a great smoker), he went to the piano and
played the "_joli_" little thing of Auber's. Was that not wonderful,
that he could remember it all the time during the dinner? He seemed only
to have glanced at it, and yet he could play it like that off from memory.
He is so kind and good, especially to struggling artists, trying to help
them in every way. He seemed extraordinarily amiable that evening, for he
sat down at the piano without being asked and played a great many of his
compositions--quite an unusual thing for him to do! One has generally to
tease and beg him, and then he refuses. But I think, when he heard
Massenet improvising at one of the pianos he was inspired, and he put
himself at the other (we have two grand pianos), and they played divinely,
both of them improvising. He is by far the finest pianist I have ever
heard, and has a very seductive way of looking at you while playing, as if
he was only playing for you, and when he smiles you simply go to pieces. I
don't wonder he is such a lady-killer, and that no woman can resist him;
even my father-in-law stayed in the salon, being completely hypnotized by
Liszt, who ought to consider this as one of his greatest triumphs, if he
I sang some of Massenet's songs, accompanied, of course, by Massenet.
Liszt was most attentive and most enthusiastic. He said Massenet had a
great future, and he complimented me on my singing, especially my phrasing
I wonder if the story be true that he was engaged to be married to
Princess Wittgenstein, and on the day of the wedding, when the bridal-
dress was ready to be put on, she got a letter from her fiancé (can any
one imagine Liszt as a fiancé) saying that he had taken holy orders that
They say that she bore it very well and wrote a sweet letter to him. It
sounds rather unnatural; but one can believe anything from a person who
was under Liszt's influence. He has the most wonderful magnetism. His
appearance is certainly original as you see him in his _soutane_, his
long hair, and his numerous moles, that stand out in profile, whichever
way he turns his broad face.
But one forgets everything when one hears him play. He is now fifty-five
years old. I invited him to go to the Conservatoire with me in the box
which Auber had given me for last Sunday's concert. I inclose his letter
of acceptance. (See page 164.)
Auber often gives me his box, which holds six people, and I have the
pleasure of making four people happy. Auber sits in the back and generally
dozes. We are all crowded together like sardines. Auber, being the
director of the Conservatoire, has, of course, the best box, except the
Imperial one, which is always empty.
The orchestra played Wagner's overture to "Tannhäuser." The applause was
not as enthusiastic as Liszt thought it ought to be, so he stood up in the
box, and with his great hands clapped so violently that the whole audience
turned toward him, and, recognizing him (indeed, it would have been
difficult not to recognize him, such a striking figure as he is), began
clapping their hands for him. He cried, "Bis!" And the audience in chorus
shouted, "Bis!" And the orchestra repeated the whole overture. Then the
audience turned again to Liszt and screamed, "Vive Liszt!"
[Illustration: FAC-SIMILE OF LISZT LETTER
Permettez-moi de venir vous remercier demain au Conservatoire de votre
gracieuse invitation dont je serai charmé de profiter.
Mille respectueux hommages,
Auber said such a thing had never been seen or heard before in the annals
of these severe and classical concerts. People quite lost their heads, and
Auber, being afraid that there would be a demonstration at the _sortie_,
advised us to leave before the end.
I think Liszt was very pleased with his afternoon.
The sovereigns are working themselves to death, and almost killing their
attendants. Prince Radzivill said, speaking of the King of Prussia: "I
would have liked him better if he had stayed at home. He has to be ready
every morning at half-past eight, and is often up till three in the
morning." Radzivill and the others not only have to go to all the balls,
but they must attend all the various civil, military, and charitable
functions, and then the Exposition takes a lot of time and energy.
Prince Umberto is here from Italy. When Princess Metternich asked him how
long he was going to stay he answered, with a toss of his head toward
Italy, "Cela dépend des circonstances. Les affaires vont très mal là-bas."
Aunt M---- says she wishes you had been at a matinée which Baroness
Nathaniel Rothschild gave this afternoon at her beautiful new palace in
the Faubourg St.-Honoré. At the entrance there were ten servants in
gorgeous livery, and a _huissier_ who rattled his mace down on the
pavement as each guest passed. There was, besides all the élite of Paris,
an Archduke of Austria. I sang the "Ave Maria" of Gounod, accompanied by
Madame Norman Neruda, an Austrian violiniste, the best woman violinist in
the world. Baroness Rothschild played the piano part.
PARIS, _May 29, 1867._
DEAR M.,--The Metternichs' big ball last night was a splendid affair, the
finest of the many fine balls. We were invited for ten o'clock, and about
half-past ten every one was there.
The Emperor and Empress came at eleven o'clock. Waldteufel, with full
orchestra, was already playing in the ballroom of the embassy, which was
beautifully decorated. At twelve o'clock the doors, or rather all the
windows that had been made into doors, were opened into the new ballroom,
which the Princess Metternich, with her wonderful taste and the help of
Monsieur Alphand, had constructed in the garden, and which had transformed
the embassy into a thousand-and-one-nights' palace.
The ballroom was a marvel; the walls were hung with lilac and pink satin,
and the immense chandelier was one mass of candles and flowers; from each
panel in the room there were suspended baskets of flowers and plants, and
between the panels were mirrors which reflected the thousands of candles.
One would never have recognized the garden; it was transformed into a
green glade; all the paths were covered with fresh grass sod, making it
look like a vast lawn; clusters of plants and palms seemed to be growing
everywhere, as if native to the soil; flower-beds by the hundreds;
mysterious grottos loomed out of the background, and wonderful vistas with
a cleverly painted perspective. At the same moment that their Majesties
entered this wonderful ballroom, which no one had dreamed of, the famous
Johann Strauss, brought from Vienna especially for this occasion, stood
waiting with uplifted baton and struck up the "Blue Danube," heard for the
first time in Paris.
When their Majesties approached the huge plate-glass window opening into
the garden a full-fledged cascade fell over the stucco rocks, and powerful
Bengal lights, red and green, made a most magical effect: the water looked
like a torrent of fiery lava _en miniature_. It was thrilling.
No one thought of dancing; every one wanted to listen to the waltz. And
how Strauss played it!... With what fire and _entrain!_ We had thought
Waldteufel perfect; but when you heard Strauss you said to yourself you
had never heard a waltz before. The musicians were partly hidden by
gigantic palmettos, plants, and pots of flowers arranged in the most
attractive way. But he!--Johann Strauss!--stood well in front, looking
very handsome, very Austrian, and very pleased with himself.
Then came the _quadrille d'honneur_. The Emperor danced with the Queen of
Belgium, the Crown Prince of Prussia with the Empress, the King of Belgium
with the Princess Mathilde, the Prince Leuchtenberg with the Princess
The cotillon was led by Count Deym and Count Bergen, and they led it to
perfection; there was not a hitch anywhere. Every one was animated and
gay; certainly the music was inspiring enough to have made an Egyptian
mummy get out of his sarcophagus and caper about. I danced with a German
_Durchlaucht_, who, though far in the sear and yellow leaf, danced like a
school-boy, standing for hours with his arm around my waist before
venturing (he could only start when the tune commenced), counting one--
two--three under his breath, which made me, his partner, feel like a
perfect fool. When at last he made up his mind to start nothing short of
an earthquake could have stopped him. He hunched up his shoulders to his
ears, arched his leg like a prancing horse, and off we went on our wild
career, lurching into every couple on the floor, and bumping into all the
outsiders. When we were not careering together, he sat glued to his chair,
refusing to dance. If any lady came up with a favor he would say, "I am a
little out of breath; I will come and fetch you later." And then he would
put the favor in his pocket and never go near her. He seized everything in
the way of favors that came his way; some he gave to me, and the rest he
took home to his small children.
I was glad, all the same, to have him for a partner, as, being a
_Durchlaucht_, he was entitled to a seat in the front row, and I preferred
prancing about with my _hochgeboren_ high-stepper to having to take a back
seat in the third row with a minor _geboren_. After my partner and I had
bounded about and butted into every living thing on the floor I brought
him to anchor near his chair by clutching his Golden Fleece chain which
hung around his neck. I felt like singing Tennyson's "Home I brought my
warrior (half) dead." He was puffing and blowing, the perspiration glazing
his face, his yellow hair matted on his forehead, and his mustaches all
out of kilter.
I really felt sorry for him, and wondered why he exerted himself so much,
when he could have been quietly seated watching others, or, better still,
at home in bed.
The supper was served at one o'clock. Their Majesties the King and Queen
of Belgium, Prince Alfred, the Prince and Princess of Prussia, the Prince
of Saxe-Weimar, and all the other _gros bonnets_--too many to write about
--went up-stairs through an avenue of plants and palms to a salon arranged
especially for them where there were two large tables. The Emperor
presided at one and the Empress at the other. Besides the _salle à manger_
and some smaller salons, two enormous tents were put up in the garden,
which contained numerous tables, holding about ten people each, and
lighted by masses of candles and festooned with bright-colored Chinese
lanterns. Prince Metternich told me later that the candles were replaced
three times during the evening.
The favors for the cotillon were very pretty, most of them brought from
Vienna. One of the prettiest was fans of gray wood with "Ambassade
d'Autriche, 28th May, 1867," painted in blue forget-me-nots.
We danced "till morning did appear," and it appeared only too soon. The
cotillon finished at half-past five, and the daylight poured in, making us
all look ghastly, especially my sear and yellow leaf, whose children must
have wondered why papa _kam so spät nach hause_.
Last week, in the beautiful palace built by Egypt for the Exposition,
there was arranged a sort of entertainment for the Viceroy, to which we
were invited with the Prince and Princess Metternich. This palace is a
large, square, white building of oriental ornamentation and architecture,
with a courtyard in the center, where we were received by the Khedive and
his suite. A fountain was playing in the middle of the courtyard of
marble, surrounded by palmettos and plants of every description. A band of
Turkish musicians were seated cross-legged in one of the corners playing
on their weird instruments, and making what they seemed to think was
music. We sat in low basket-chairs, our feet resting on the richest of
oriental rugs, and admired the graceful movements of the dancing-girls,
who had not more space than an ordinary square rug to dance upon. There
were also some jugglers, who performed the most marvelous and
incomprehensible tricks with only an apparently transparent basket, from
which they produced every imaginable object.
Coffee _à la Turque_ was served in small cups with their silver filigree
undercup, and Turkish paste flavored with attar of roses, and nauseatingly
sweet, was passed about, with a glass of water to wash it down. Also
cigarettes of every description were lavishly strewn on all the little
tables, and hovering about us all the time were the thin-legged, turbaned
black menials with baggy silk trousers and bright silk sashes.
Everything was so Oriental that, had I stayed there a little longer, I
should not have been surprised to see myself sitting cross-legged on a
divan smoking a _narghile_. I said as much as this to the Khedive, who
said, in his funny pigeon-French-English, "Alas! Were it so!"
I cast my eyes down and put on my _sainte-ni-touche_ air, which at times I
can assume, and as I looked at his Highness's dusky suite, who did not
look over and above immaculate, in spite of the Mussulman's Mussulmania
for washing, I thanked my stars that it "were not so."
The interpreter who was on duty said to Prince Metternich: "Mussulmans
drink no wine, nor does the Prophet allow them to eat off silver.
Therefore, to ease our consciences" (he said, _mettre nos consciences à
couvert_), "we tell them that the silver plates on which they eat are
_iron_ plated with silver. They think the forks are also iron, otherwise
they would eat with their fingers."
The interpreter added that Mussulmans did not think the Parisian
newspapers very interesting, because they contained so few crimes and no
murders worth mentioning. What an insight this gives of the condition of
their country and the tenor of their papers!
We took our leave of the amiable Khedive, who expressed the hope that we
would soon meet again.
Before his departure from Paris there came a package with the card of one
of his gentlemen, begging me, _de la part de Monseigneur_, to accept the
"accompanying souvenir." The package contained two enameled bracelets
of the finest oriental work in red-and-green, studded with emeralds. He
sent an equally gorgeous brooch to the Princess Metternich.
PARIS, _June, 1867._
DEAR M.,--I must write you about something amusing which happened to-day.
Prince Oscar was most desirous of seeing Delsarte, having heard him so
much spoken of. I promised to try to arrange an interview, and wrote to
Delsarte to ask him to come to meet the Prince at our house. I received
this characteristic answer, "I have no time to make visits. If his
Highness will come to see me I shall be pleased," and mentioned a day and
an hour. Prince Oscar, Monsieur Dué, the Swedish secretary, Mademoiselle
W----, and I went at the appointed time, mounted Delsarte's tiresome
stairs, and waited patiently in his salon while he finished a lesson.
Monsieur Dué was very indignant at this _sans-gêne_, and apologized for
Delsarte's want of courtesy; but the Prince did not mind, and occupied
himself with looking at Delsarte's old poetry-books and albums.
Finally Delsarte entered and graciously received his royal visitor. The
Prince was most affable and listened to Delsarte's fantastic theories,
pretending to be interested in the explanation of the cartoons, and began
to discuss the art of teaching, which exasperated Delsarte to the verge of
Prince Oscar offered to sing a Swedish song, a very simple peasant song,
which he sang very well, I thought. The Swedish language is lovely for
singing, almost as good as Italian. We looked for some words of praise;
but Delsarte, adopting regency manners, which he can on occasions, said,
in a most insinuating voice: "Your Highness is destined to become a king,
one of these days. Is it not so?"
"Yes," answered the Prince, wondering what was coming next.
"You will have great responsibilities and a great deal to occupy your
"You will not have time to devote yourself to art?"
"I fear not."
"_Eh bien!_" said Delsarte, and we expected pearls to drop from his mouth,
"_eh bien!_ If ever I am fortunate enough to visit your country, I hope
you will allow me to pay my most humble respects to you."
"How horribly impolite," said the indignant Monsieur Dué. "He ought to
have his ears boxed!"
Prince Oscar took it quite kindly, and, giving Delsarte a clap on his back
which I am sure made his shoulders twinge, said: "You are right; I shall
have other things to think of. There"--pointing to diagram six on the
wall, depicting horror, with open mouth and gaping eyes--"is the
expression I shall have when I think of music and music-teachers."
Delsarte, feeling that he had overstepped the mark, said, "Perhaps, _mon
Prince_, you will sing something in French for me."
Prince Oscar, drawing himself up his whole six feet and four, glanced down
at little Delsarte and said, "_Mon cher Monsieur_, have you ever read
the English poets?"
Delsarte looked unutterable things; I blushed for my teacher.
"When I come again to Paris," the Prince continued, "I will come to see
you. Adieu!" and left without further ceremony.
We followed him down the slippery stairs in silence.
Prince Oscar thought this little episode a great joke, and repeated it to
That same evening there was a _soirée musicale_ given for him by the
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Marquis de Moustier) The Prince was begged to
sing, which he did three or four times. Every one was delighted to hear
the Swedish songs. Ambroise Thomas, who was there, said that he thought
they were exquisite, especially the peasant song, which he had introduced
into his new opera of "Hamlet." The Prince and I sang the duet, "I Rosens
duft." He was the lion of the evening, and I think that he was very
pleased. I hoped that he had forgotten the unpleasant incident of the
morning and Delsarte, of whom Monsieur Dué cleverly remarked, "Qui s'y
frotte s'y pique--."
PARIS, _July, 1867._
The distribution of prizes for the Exposition took place last Thursday at
the Palais de l'Industrie. It was a magnificent affair and a very hot one.
You may imagine what the heat and glare must have been at two o'clock in
the afternoon on a hot July day. I was glad that I was not old and
wrinkled, for every imperfection shone with magnified intensity.
There was a vast platform erected in the middle of the building, which was
covered with a red carpet, and over which hung an enormous canopy of red
velvet and curtains of velvet with the eagle of Napoleon. The Emperor and
Empress sat, of course, in the center, and on each side were the foreign
sovereigns; behind them were their suites and the Imperial family. The
diplomatic corps had their places on the right of the tribune.
The gentlemen, splendid in their gala uniforms, were covered with
decorations, and all the ladies present were _in grande toilette_ and
low-necked, and displayed every jewel they possessed.
The building, huge as it was, was packed full, every available seat
The Prince Imperial distributed the prizes. He looked very dignified when
he handed the victors their different medals, accompanying each gift with
his sweet and winning smile.
When Count Zichy, of Hungary, mounted the steps of the throne to receive
his medal (he got a prize for his Hungarian wines) there was a general
murmur of admiration, and I must say that he did look gorgeous in his
national costume, which is a most striking one. He had on all his famous
turquoises. His mantle and coat underneath, and everything except his top-
boots, were encrusted with turquoises, some of them as big as hen's eggs.
They say, when he appears on a gala occasion in his country, his horse's
trappings and saddle are covered with turquoises.
The Sultan sat on the right of the Empress. You never saw anything half as
splendid! A shopful of jewelry could not compare to him. He had a
_collier_ of pearls which might have made a Cleopatra green with jealousy.
He had an enormous diamond which held the high aigrette in place on his
fez and the Great Mogul (I was so told) fastened on his breast. His
costume was magnificent, and his sabre--which I suppose has cut off a head
or so--was a blaze of jewels. He was the _point de mire_ of all eyes;
especially when the rays of the sun caught the rays of his diamonds he
blazed like the sun itself. The sun did all it could in the way of blazing
that day. I know that I never felt anything like the heat in that gigantic
hot-house, the sun pouring through each pane of glass and nothing to
protect one against it. I felt like an exotic flower unfolding its petals.
It was a very pretty little scene, and I think that every one was
impressed when the Prince Imperial went toward the King of Holland to hand
him a medal (probably for Dutch cheese). The tall, stately King rose from
his seat, and on receiving it bowed deeply with great ceremony. The Prince
made a respectful and graceful bow in response, then the King stooped down
and kissed his cheek.
I was tremendously interested when the American exhibitors came forward;
there were many of them, quite a procession. They looked very
distinguished in their simple dress-coats, without any decorations. I was
When it was all over it was delightful to get out into the fresh air, even
if we had to stand and wait patiently about like Mary's little lamb until
the carriage did appear, for we had either to wait or to worm our way,
risking horses' tails and hoofs through the surging crowd of bedecked men
and women, who were all clamoring for their servants and carriages.
The coachmen were swearing and shouting as only French coachmen can do on
such occasions as this. The line of carriages reached almost the whole way
down the Champs Élysées. We finally did find ours, and I was glad to seat
myself in it. I had had the forethought to put my hat and mantle in, as we
intended to drive out to Petit Val for dinner. I put my hat over my tiara
and my mantle on my bare shoulders, and enjoyed driving through the shady
Prince Metternich came out here the other day, I had not seen him since
the tragic death of Emperor Maximilian in Mexico. I never would have
believed that he could be so affected as he seemed to be by this. He cried
like a baby when he told us of the Emperor's last days, of his courage and
fortitude. It seems that, just as he was going to be shot, he went to each
of the men and gave them a twenty-franc gold piece, and said, "I beg you
to shoot straight at my heart."
How dreadful it must have been!
Prince Metternich was most indignant at Rochefort, and says he can never
forgive him because, in an article in _La Lanterne_, he called the royal
martyr "the Archdupe." Auber said:
"You must not forget that Rochefort would rather sell his soul than lose
an occasion to make a clever remark."
"Yes, I know," moaned the Prince. "But how can one be so cruel?"
"C'est un mauvais drôle," Auber answered (don't think Auber meant that
Rochefort was droll; on the contrary, this is a neat way that the French
have of calling a man the _worst kind of a scamp_), and added,
"Rochefort's brains are made of _pétards_," which is the French for
Auber told many anecdotes. I fancy he wanted to cheer Prince Metternich up
a little. One of them was that, on taking leave of the Emperor, the Shah
"Sire, your Paris is wonderful, your palaces splendid, and your horses
magnificent, but," waving his hand toward the mature but noble _dames
d'honneur_ with an expression of disapproval, "you must change all
that." Imagine what their feelings would have been had they heard him.
PARIS, _August, 1867._
DEAR M.,--I thought there would be a little rest for me after the
distribution of prizes and before going to Dinard; but repose is a thing,
it seems, that I am destined never to get.
Monday morning I received a letter from Princess Metternich saying that
the Minister of Foreign Affairs had sent her his box for that evening, to
hear Schneider in "La Belle Hélène," adding that Cora Pearl was to appear
as Cupidon as an extra attraction, and asked if we would dine with them
first, and go afterward to the theater.
I could not resist an invitation from these two delightful people,
therefore we drove into Paris and reached the embassy at half-past six,
the hour named for dinner.
Prince Metternich told us that he had had a visit in the afternoon from
Monsieur Dué, the Swedish secretary, who had been on the verge of
desperation on account of his not having been able to secure a suitable
box for King Charles XIV. of Sweden, who arrived last night to spend a few
days here. He wished to see Schneider in "La Belle Hélène." Monsieur Dué
had gone to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and suggested that the
Minister offer his box; but that had already been given to the
Metternichs. When Prince Metternich was informed of this he did not
hesitate to place the box in question at the King's disposal; but, not to
disappoint the Princess and me, he had taken an ordinary box opposite. The
King was already in his _loge_ when we arrived. He is a large, handsome
man with a full, black beard, and has a very pleasant face.
Between the first and second acts Monsieur Dué came to Prince Metternich
and told him that the King desired to see him. Of course the Prince went
directly, and returned delighted with the King's affability, and to our
great surprise brought us a message from the King, asking us all to come
to his box and join him, and proposing to send Monsieur Dué and his
gentleman-in-waiting to take our places in our box.
We accepted with pleasure, and passed the rest of the evening in the
charming society of the most amiable of kings. He said to me that "Oscar,"
as he called his brother (Prince Oscar, the hereditary Prince), had spoken
about me and our singing the duet written by his brother, Prince Gustave,
and asked how I managed about the Swedish words. I replied that Prince
Oscar had taught them to me during the dinner preceding the singing.
"Could you understand the words?" he asked.
"No," I replied. "I only know that it was something about London and
The King laughed most heartily, and said, "I shall tell that to Oscar when
I go home, and he will see how well you profited by his lessons."
We were all immensely amused at Cora Pearl's appearance; it was her debut
as an actress. I never saw any one look so sheepish as she did, in spite
of her paint and powder and beautiful legs. She wore high-heeled slippers,
so high that she could hardly walk, which made her even more awkward than
she naturally was. She only had a few lines to sing, and this she did so
badly that people nearly hissed her.
She was evidently engaged as a drawing-card; but the only thing she drew
was ridicule on herself.
During the second act Lord Lyons came into the box. He had known the King
before, and, having heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that the
King was at the theater, went there to pay his respects. The King,
noticing that he had a decoration on, said in French: "Please take that
off; I am here incognito. To-morrow I shall be official; then you can put
it on." So Lord Lyons took off his star and put it in his pocket. He
wanted to go after the second act, but the King said: "Monsieur Dué has
arranged a supper for us at _La Maison d'Or_. You must come also." Of
course Lord Lyons did not refuse.
Monsieur Dué left the box in advance of the rest of us, in order to
arrange everything before the King's arrival. The King called to him, as
he opened the door, "Don't forget the _écrevisses à la Bordelaise_; I
have been looking forward to them for a long time."
After the performance, with which the King was delighted (especially with
Hortense Schneider's song, "Dis-moi, Vénus, pourquoi," etc.), we drove to
the _Maison d'Or_, where we found Monsieur Dué awaiting us. We asked at
what time the carriages should come back. He said: "Not before two
o'clock. His Majesty never retires before." We were then shown into a
salon, where the Princess Metternich and I were asked by the King to take
off our hats. "It is so much more cozy," he said. So off our hats came. We
had not been seated ten minutes when we heard some very loud talking and
much discussion in the corridor outside. Lord Lyons, who was nearest the
door, jumped up to see what the matter was, opened the door, and peeped
"Oh!" said he. "It is the Duke of Brunswick making a row; he is half-seas
over!" The King turned to Monsieur Dué (the King does not speak English)
and said, "What did Lord Lyons say?" Monsieur Dué's English did not go
very far, but he translated into Swedish what he had understood Lord Lyons
The King seemed very puzzled and, addressing Lord Lyons, said:
"Was not the Duke of Brunswick obliged to leave England for fear of being
arrested?" Lord Lyons coughed discreetly, and the King went on: "If I
remember rightly, the Duke, who was in the royal box, shot at and killed a
_danseuse_ who was on the stage! And did he not leave England in a
balloon? It always seemed such an extraordinary thing. Was it true?" Lord
Lyons cautiously answered that people had said all that; but it was some
time ago, and added, diplomatically, that he had forgotten all the
"And I understood," said his Majesty, "that he can never go back there
"You are right. He cannot go back to England, your Majesty."
"Oh! don't Majesty me. To-night I am a simple bourgeois," the King
interrupted, smilingly shaking his finger. "But tell me, how can the Duke
dare return there now?"
"He does not dare," repeated Lord Lyons. "He can _never_ go back."
"But," insisted the King, "my good Monsieur Dué says that he is on his way
there at this moment."
Lord Lyons replied, "I think Monsieur Dué must be mistaken, for the Duke
is out there in the corridor making all this [I am sure it was on his lips
to say "devil of a row," but he politely said] _noise_."
Monsieur Dué then remarked, "Did I not hear you say that he was half way
across the channel?"
"I certainly did not say _that_. What I did say was that he was 'half-seas
over' which is a slang expression we use in England instead of saying
tipsy, or _dans les vignes du Seigneur_, so prettily put by the French."
The King laughed very much at this _quid pro quo_ and, looking at Monsieur
Dué, said, "I thought your English more up to the mark."
The King was immediately fired with a desire to see the famous Duke who
had dared to cross the channel in a balloon rather than run the risk of
being shut up in prison, and we all waited with impatience to see whether
Lord Lyons's persuasive powers went so far as getting the Duke to show
himself. Well, they did, and both the gentlemen came into the salon. The
Duke bowed low and did not lose his balance. In fact, for a man half-seas
over, I thought he looked as if he could get to the end of his journey
without disgrace. He said, very politely, "I am afraid I have disturbed
you, but this is the salon which has always been put aside for me every
night, and I was surprised to learn that it was occupied."
The Duke is, or rather would have been, a very handsome man if he had not
such watery eyes and such a weak mouth; and then he wore the funniest-
looking wig I ever saw. It was made out of black (the blackest) sewing-
silk and plastered down over his ears. I wonder if it was a disguise, or
if he thought any one would ever really take it for his own hair.
The King was very nice to him, and did not seem in the least to mind his
being _dans les vignes_. I fancy, from what Monsieur Dué said, that in
Sweden people are used to see their friends _always_ in _Seigneurial_
vineyards--they never see them anywhere else! But he exaggerates, no
The King said to the Duke of Brunswick, "Will you not sup with us to-
"I thank your Majesty, but I must crave permission to return, for I have
some ladies supping with me, including the Cupidon of to-night."
"Tell her," said the King, "if she wears such high heels she will come to
"It will not be the first time," answered the Duke, with a laugh. "But
don't ask me to say anything like that to her; she would box my ears!"
Seeing the waiter making signs to him, the Duke then made a profound bow
and, stroking his sewing-silk locks left us.
The universal verdict on him was _Quel crétin!_
We had a very pleasant supper, and a most unceremonious one, as much so as
is possible where there is royalty.
The King said that he was going to be official all the next day, but that
he would like to go to the Exposition. Prince Metternich proposed a cup of
tea and the delicious hot rolls they turn out at the Vienna restaurant.
The King was delighted to accept, and named the hour of half past four in
the afternoon. We were also bidden, for which I was much pleased. King
Carl is the most delightful and fascinating of monarchs, and quite worthy
to be his brother's brother. To-morrow he is going to be still more
official, for he dines at the Tuileries, and there is a gala performance
at the opera; Christine Nilsson is going to sing "Faust" with Nicolini and
To-morrow we leave for Dinard, where there will be no majesties nor
Exposition; just plain bread and butter and Brittany cider, which is as
hard as a relentless parent.
COMPIÈGNE, _November 27, 1868._
When the inclosed invitation came my father-in-law wet-blanketed the
whole thing, and I was brokenhearted. The Duke de Persigny, who happened
to be in Petit Val at that moment, sympathized with me and tried to change
the paternal mind; but the paternal mind was obdurate, and all pleadings
were, alas! in vain.
MAISON DE L'EMPEREUR
_Palais des Tuileries, le 2 9'bre 1868._
Par ordre de l'Empereur, j'ai l'honneur de vous prévenir que vous êtes
invité, ainsi que Madame Ch. Moulton, à passer 9 jours au Palais de
Compiègne, du 27 9'bre au 5 décembre.
Des voitures de la Cour vous attendront le 27, à l'arrivée à Compiègne
du train partant de Paris à 2 heures 1/2 pour vous conduire au Palais.
Agréez, Monsieur, l'assurance de ma considération très distinguée.
_Le Premier Chambellan_,
V'te de Laferrière.
Monsieur Ch. Moulton.
My father-in-law thought it cost too much--my toilettes, the necessary
outlay, and especially the _pourboires_. He said that it was a lot of
money, and added, in his most choice French, "Le jeu [he pronounced it
'jew'] ne valait pas la chandelle." He was right from his point of view,
for he had none of the _jeu_ and all of the _chandelle_. I pined and
pouted the whole day, and considered myself the most down-trodden mortal
Imagine my delight, a few days later, to receive a second document,
informing us that our names had been re-entered on the list, and that we
were expected, all the same, on the 27th to stay nine days. At the same
time there came a note from the Duke de Persigny, in which he said, "Their
Majesties desired us particularly to come." And he added: "Tell your
father-in-law that the question of pourboires has been settled now and
forever. No more pourboires to be given nor taken at Compiègne."
Then Mr. M---- gave his consent, and I was blissfully happy.
It seems that the Emperor's attention had been railed to the many very
disagreeable articles in the newspapers on the subject of the extravagant
_pourboires_ exacted at Compiègne. The Emperor was very much annoyed,
and gave immediate orders to suppress this system, which had been going on
for years without his knowledge.
Last night we stayed in Paris, to be ready at half-past two this
afternoon. To describe our departure, arrival, and reception would only be
to repeat what I have already written last year. Among the fifty or sixty
guests there were many who were here then. In addition there are Duke
d'Albe, with his daughters; Baron Beyens, the Belgian Minister; Mr.
Mallet, of the English Embassy, Mr. Dué of the Swedish Legation; the poet,
Prosper Mérimée; and many, of course, I do not know.
Singularly enough, we were shown into the same apartment we had before,
which made us feel quite at home. We found tea, chocolate, and cakes on
the table, of which I partook with enthusiasm, and then enjoyed an hour's
rest before dressing for dinner.
We met at seven o'clock in the _Salle des Fêtes_, the only room in this
huge chateau large enough to contain all the party here (I suppose there
must be one hundred and twenty people), for which reason it serves both as
reception and ballroom.
The Empress looked superb in a gown of an exquisite shade of lilac; she
wore her beautiful pearls and a tiara of diamonds and pearls. When she
approached me she held out her hand, and said she was very glad to see me.
The Emperor was kind and gracious, as usual.
The Baron Gourgaud was told to take me in to dinner, and we followed the
procession to the dining-room, passing the _Cent Gardes_, who looked like
an avenue of blue and glittering trees. The Baron Gourgaud and I are
neighbors in the country, their place, La Grange, being not far from Petit
Val. His conversation is not absorbing; but as he knows he is dull he does
not pretend to be anything else. I was thankful for this, as I felt that I
did not need to make the slightest effort to entertain him.
I cast my eyes round the table, and if I had not known that this was _la
série amusante_ I should never have guessed it--every one seemed so
spiritless and "sans le moindre entrain," as my neighbor remarked.
No excitement this evening but the dance. Waldteufel is suppressed! They
say that the Emperor, who has a horror of publicity in private life, was
very displeased last year by the indiscretions and personal anecdotes, and
especially the caricatures made by Gustave Doré, which appeared in the
_Figaro_. The Emperor vowed that no outsiders should be invited again;
therefore poor Waldteufel has to pay _les pots cassés_, and we must make
our own music.
Looking for a substitute for Waldteufel, a clever chamberlain discovered
the "Debain piano" (mechanical piano).
You remember I had one in my youth. How I loved it! How I used to love to
grind out all the beautiful music those ugly boxes contained! And how I
used to wonder that those common wooden slides could reproduce such
perfect imitations of the real thing.
I was so glad to see one again, and envied the perspiring chamberlain, who
looked bored to extinction having to turn the crank, instead of joining
the dance and turning the heads of the ladies. It took two of them to
manage the complexities of the piano, and as neither possessed a musical
turn of the wrist, and as neither had the remotest idea of time or
measure, it was very hard for us poor dancers!
When one of the martyrs wanted to explain to the other what to do he would
stop and forget to turn the crank. The dancers were thus obliged to pause,
one foot in the air, not knowing when to put it down, and when they did
put it down they did not fall in measure, and had to commence all over
again. This spasmodic waltzing almost made us crazy. As for me, I could
not bear it any longer. No chariot nor horses could have kept me away from
that piano; to feel again (after so many years) the delight of playing it!
And then I wanted to show how it should be played; so I went to the piano
and took the crank out of the tired hands of the chamberlain and ground
out a whole dance.
I flatter myself that the dancers enjoyed at least this one.
His Majesty walked up to the piano while I was playing and said, "But,
Madame, you will tire yourself; you really must stop and let some one take
I replied: "If your Majesty only knew what a pleasure it is for me to play
this piano! I had one like it when I was a little girl, and have never
seen one since."
"Are these pianos not something quite new?" he asked. "I was told that
they were the latest invention."
"They may be," I answered, "the latest improvement on an old invention;
but the pianos are older than I am."
"That," answered the Emperor, smilingly, "does not make them very old."
He called one of the chamberlains, and I reluctantly gave up my place. The
Count d'Amelot was summoned, and as we were about to waltz off the Emperor
said, "If I danced, I should like to dance with you myself; but I do not
"Then," I said, "I must dance without you."
He laughed: "Vous avez toujours la réplique," and stood there watching us
with those peculiar eyes of his.
I never received so many compliments on piano-playing as I did to-night.
Here is the list of my dresses (the cause of so much grumbling):
Dark-blue poplin, trimmed with plush of the same color, toque,
muff to match.
Black velvet, trimmed with braid, sable hat, sable tippet and muff.
Brown cloth, trimmed with bands of sealskin, coat, hat, muff to match.
Purple plush, trimmed with bands of pheasant feathers, coat, hat to
Gray velvet, trimmed with chinchilla, chinchilla hat, muff and coat.
Green cloth (hunting costume).
Traveling suit, dark-blue cloth cloak.
Light green tulle, embroidered in silver, and for my locks, what they
call _une fantaisie_.
White tulle, embroidered with gold wheat ears.
Light-gray satin, quite plain, with only Brussels lace flounces.
Deep pink tulle, with satin ruchings and a lovely sash of lilac
Black lace over white tulle, with green velvet twisted bows.
Light-blue tulle with Valenciennes.
Light café au lait with trimmings of the same.
Green faille faced with blue and a red Charlotte Corday sash (Worth's
A red faille, quite plain.
Gray faille with light-blue facings.
Do you not think there is enough to last me as long as I live?
SUNDAY, _November 28th._
The mass is at ten o'clock on Sunday, and one meets in the grand salon
before going to the chapel.
Madame de Gallifet and I, being Protestants, were not expected; but, as we
wanted to go, we decided to don a black lace veil and follow the others.
The chapel is not large, but it is very richly decorated.
The Empress sat in a tribune facing the altar with a chosen few and her
The Emperor was not present.
It seemed to me that the mass was very hurried and curtailed. The chorus
boys swung their censers nonchalantly, as though they were fanning
themselves; probably they were impatient for their breakfast.
The curé did not preach any sermon; he only made an exhortation against
the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and told us that we had
better be prepared for death, as it might come at any moment. This was
nothing new; any one could have said it. He advised us to have our lamps
trimmed, for, when our time came we would be cut down like grass and
gathered in the garners. Perhaps he meant we ought to make our hay while
the sun was shining. I wondered to myself, if some of those old gentlemen
sinners who had sown so liberally would not be gathered in as oats. The
curé was going on to say that we should not indulge too freely in the good
things of this world; but pulled himself up in time, remembering, no
doubt, that he was going to breakfast, as he did every Sunday, at the
Imperial board and partake of its luxuries.
And before we knew it the mass was finished.
When we returned to the salon it was eleven o'clock, and every one was
assembled for _déjeuner_.
The Marquis d'Aoust happened to sit next to me at table (I say happened,
but I believe he manoeuvered so as to do so), and, taking me unawares
between two mouthfuls of _truites saumonées_, decoyed me into accepting a
stupendous proposition of his, which was to help him to get up an operetta
which he had had the courage to compose. He said the idea had just come
into his head; but I thought, for an impromptu idea, it was rather a ripe
one, as he had brought the music with him, and had already picked out
those he thought could help, and checked them off on his lean fingers. He
said the operetta had one act only, which I thought was fortunate, and
that it needed only four actors, which I thought was still more fortunate.
The next thing to be done, he said, was to get the singers' consent. I
should have said it was the first thing to be done; but he was so bubbling
over with enthusiasm that he was sure every one would jump at the chance
of taking part.
He seized the first moment after their Majesties had retired to pounce
upon those he had selected, and having obtained their consent he proposed
a walk in the long, so-called Treille or Berceau. Napoleon I. built this
walk, which is one thousand meters in length and reaches to the edge of
the forest, for the Queen Marie Louise. I must say I pitied her toes if
she walked there often on as cold a day as to-day; I know mine ached as we
paced to and fro while the Marquis explained the operetta. It was really
too cold to stay out-of-doors, and we turned back to the little salon,
called the _Salon Japonais_, to finish the séance there.
"What part am I to take?" asked Prince Metternich.
As he could not be anything else, he accepted the role of prompter, and
promised all the help he could give. When I went to the Empress's tea this
afternoon I took those questions Aunt M* sent me from America. You know
them. You have to write what your favorite virtues are, and if you were
not yourself, who you would like to be, and so forth.
I was glad to have something new and original which might amuse people.
The Empress, seeing the papers in my hand, asked me what they were. I told
her that they were some questions: a new intellectual pastime just
invented in America.
"Do they invent intellectual pastimes in America?" she asked, looking at
me with a smile. "I thought they only invented money-making."
"They do that, too," I replied; "but they have also invented these
questions, which probe the mind to the marrow and unveil the soul."
She laughed and said, "Do you wish me to unveil my soul, _comme cela, à
I answered, "Perhaps your Majesty will look at them at your leisure. I
hardly dare to ask the Emperor; but if he would also look at them I should
be so happy."
"Leave them with me, and to-morrow we will see; in any case my soul is not
So I left the papers with her.
It is the fashion this year for ladies to wear lockets on a black-velvet
ribbon around their necks. The more lockets you can collect and wear, the
finer you are. Each locket represents an event, such as a birthday, a bet,
an anniversary of any kind, and so forth. Any excuse is good for the
sending of a locket. The Empress had seventeen beautiful ones to-day (I
counted them). They have a rather cannibalish look, I think. Is it not in
Hayti (or in which country is it?) that the black citizens wear their
rivals' teeth as trophies on their black necks?
Who should offer me his arm for dinner to night but Prosper Mérimée, the
lion of lions, the pampered poet, who entrances all those who listen to
him whenever he opens his lips.
He looks more like an Englishman than a Frenchman; he is quite old, and I
fancy older than he looks (he may be fifty). He is tall and _dégagé_, with
a nice smile and pleasant eyes, though sometimes he gives you a sharp and
suspicious glance. He speaks English very well. I told him (stretching
a point) that I had never heard a foreigner speak such good English as he
He replied, without a blush: "I ought to speak it well. I learned it when
I was a child." And he added, complacently, "I can even write better than
I asked him if he could write poetry in English.
He answered: "I do not think I could. My English goes just so far and no
farther. I have what is strictly necessary, but not what is superfluous."
("J'ai, le stricte nécessaire, mais pas le superflu.")
"To make rhymes," said I, "I should think one would have to know every
word in the dictionary."
"Oh!" he said, "I don't attempt rhymes; they are far beyond me."
When he talks French he is perfectly delightful. He creates the funniest
words, and gives such an original turn to his phrases that you are--at
least I was--on the _qui vive_ not to lose anything he said. It is like
listening to a person who, improvising on the piano, makes unexpected
and subtle modulations which you hate to have escape you.
He told me he had been in correspondence with an English lady for over
"Were you in love with her, that you wrote to her all those years?" I
"I was in love with her letters," he replied. "They were the cleverest
things I ever read--full of wit and humor."
"Was she in love with you or only with your letters?" I was tactless
enough to ask.
"How can you ask?" he said. I wondered myself how I could have asked so
indiscreet a question.
"Did she write in English, and did you write in French?"
"Yes, she wrote in English," he answered, and looked bored.
"Is she dead?" I asked, getting bolder and bolder; but he would not talk
any more about this clever lady, and we drifted into other channels of
conversation. Too bad! I would have liked to have known if the lady was
I wish I could remember all the pearls which fell from his lips; but alas!
one cannot, like Cleopatra, digest pearls. But I do remember one thing he
said, which was, "If I should define the difference between men and women,
I should say, 'Que les hommes valent plus, mais que les femmes valent
I wondered if this was one of the pearls he let drop in his letters to the
wonderful English _bas-bleu_.
In the evening we danced to the waltzes of the Debain, and were obliged to
tread a very spasmodic measure. The Prince Imperial asked me for a polka,
and I had to clutch his shoulder with one hand and beat time with the
other on his arm to keep any kind of rhythm in his evolutions. It is nice
to see him circulating about and chatting with all the ladies.
A message came to my room this morning, to the effect that I was to sit
next to the Emperor. I suppose they thought it best to let me know in
time, in case I should go wandering off sight-seeing, like last year, but
no danger! Once caught, twice warned, as the saying is.
Therefore, when we descended to the grand salon, I knew what my fate was
to be. The Due de Sesto, who had recently married the widow of the Duc de
Morny, gave me his arm and deposited me at the side of his Majesty.
The Emperor was in the most delightful spirits, and full of _bonhomie_ and
fun. Glancing across the table at a certain diplomat (Baron F----), he
said, "I never knew a person more impervious to a joke than that gentleman
is." And then he went on to say that once he had told the Baron the old
time-worn joke which any child can understand.
(You have heard it many times, I am sure, dear mama.)
One begins by saying, "Vous me permettez de vous tutoyer (You will permit
me to use the thee and thou)?" And then one says, "Pourquoi aimes-tu la
chicorée (Why dost thou like chicory)?" To which the answer is, "Parce
qu'elle est amère (ta mère) (Because it is 'bitter' or 'your mother')."
But I had better tell the story in the Emperor's own language.
"The Baron was making a call upon the Duchess de Bassano, one of the
ladies-in-waiting of the Empress, a severe and formal person, as you know,
and in deep mourning for her mother. He wished to make himself agreeable
and told her this story, saying that it was the most amusing thing he had
ever heard. But he forgot to ask her permission to use the thee and thou,
and said, point-blank, 'Pourquoi aimes-tu la salade?' The Duchess did not
understand, and he, bursting out laughing, continued, without waiting for
her to speak, 'Parce qu'elle est ta mère.' The Duchess arose, indignant.
'Monsieur, I beg you cease. My poor mother died three months ago. I am
still wearing mourning for her!' With which she burst into tears and left
"The Baron, nothing daunted, tried a second time to relate this anecdote,
this time addressing Baronne Pierres, another of the _dames d'honneur_,
entirely forgetting to use the thee and thou. 'Madame, pourquoi aimez-vous
la salade?' Naturally she had not the slightest idea what he meant, and he
rejoined triumphantly, 'Parce qu'elle est Madame votre mère.' What annoys
me beyond measure," continued the Emperor, "is that he goes on telling the
anecdote, saying, 'The Emperor told it to me.'"
The Emperor laughed heartily, and I did, too. Then he told me another
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