Part 2 out of 7
stripes of some sort; they looked sleepy and stupid. They had just sat
through the usual Sunday exhortation.
The ladies of the committee ranged themselves so as to make a background
of solemn benevolence on the platform, in the middle of which stood a
primeval melodion with two octaves and four stops. One stop would have
been enough for me, and I needed it later, as you will see.
Here I was! What should I sing? I was utterly at a loss. Why had I not
thought this out before coming?
French love-songs; out of the question.
Italian prayers and German lullabies were plentiful in the _répertoire_,
but seemed sadly out of place for this occasion.
I thought of Lucrezia Borgia's "Brindisi"; but that instantly went out of
my mind. A drinking song urging people to drink seemed absurdly
inappropriate, as probably most of my audience had done their misdeeds
under the influence of drink.
I knew the words of "Home, Sweet Home," and decided on that. Nothing could
have been worse. I attacked the squeaky melodion, pushed down a pedal,
pulled out the "vox humana" stop--the most harmless one of the melodion,
but which gave out a supernaturally hoarse sound--I struck the chord, and
standing up I began. These poor, homeless creatures must have thought my
one purpose was to harass them to the last limit, and I only realized what
I was singing about when I saw them with bowed heads and faces hidden in
their hands; some even sobbing.
The director, perceiving the doleful effect I had produced, suggested,
"Perhaps something in a lighter vein." I tried to think of "something in a
lighter vein," and inquired, "How would 'Swanee River' be?"
"First-rate," said the kind director; "just the thing--_good_" emphasizing
the word _good_ by slapping his hands together. Thus encouraged, I started
off again in the melancholy wake of the melodion. Alas! this fared no
better than "Home, Sweet Home." When I sang "Oh; darkies! how my heart
grows weary!" the word _weary_ had a disastrous effect, and there was a
regular breakdown (I don't mean in the darky sense of the word, the
penitents did _not_ get up and perform a breakdown--I wish they had!); but
there was a regular collapse of penitents. I thought that they would have
to be carried out on stretchers.
The poor warden, now at his wits' end, but wishing to finish this
lugubrious performance with a flourish, proposed (unhappy thought) that I
should address a few words to the now miserable, broken-hearted crowd. I
will give you a thousand guesses, dear aunty, and still you will never
guess the idiotic words that issued from your niece's lips. I said,
looking at them with a triumphant smile (I have no doubt that, at that
moment, I thought I was in my own drawing-room, bidding guests good
night)--I said (I really hate to write it): "I hope the next time I come
to Rochester I shall meet you all here again."
This was the first speech I ever made in public--I confess that it was not
The Princess Mathilde receives every Sunday evening. Her salons are always
crowded, and are what one might call cosmopolitan. In fact, it is the only
salon in Paris where one can meet all nationalities. There are diplomats,
royalists, imperialists, strangers of importance passing through Paris,
and especially all the celebrated artists.
She has great taste, and has arranged her palace most charmingly. She has
converted a small portion of the park behind it into a winter garden,
which is filled with beautiful palms and flowering plants. In this
attractive place she holds her receptions, and I sang there the other
Rossini was, as a great exception, present. I fancy that he and his wife
had dined with the Princess; therefore, when the Princess asked him to
accompany me, saying that she desired so much to hear me sing, he could
not well refuse to be amiable, and sat down to the piano with a good
enough grace. I sang "Bel Raggio," from "Semiramide," as I knew it by
heart (I had sung it often enough with Garcia). Rossini was kind enough
not to condemn the cadenzas with which Garcia had interlarded it. I was
afraid he would not like them, remembering what he had said to Patti about
I was amused at his gala dress for royalty: a much-too-big redingote, a
white tie tied a good deal to one side, and only one wig.
He says that he is seventy-three years old. I must say that this is
difficult to believe, for he does not look it by ten years. He never
accepts any invitations. I know I have never seen him anywhere outside his
own house, and it was a great surprise to see him now. We once ventured to
invite him and his wife to dinner one evening, when the Prince and
Princess Metternich were dining with us; and we got this answer: "Merci,
de votre invitation pour ma femme et moi. Nous regrettons de ne pouvoir
l'accepter. Ma femme ne sort que pour aller à la messe, et moi je ne sors
jamais de mes habitudes." We felt snubbed, as no doubt we deserved to be.
Gounod played most enchantingly some selections from "Roméo et Juliette,"
the opera he has just composed. I hear that he wants Christine Nilsson to
sing it. The music seems to me even more beautiful than "Faust." Rossini
talked a long time with Gounod, and Auber told me that Rossini said,
patting Gounod on the back, "Vous êtes le chevalier Bayard de la musique."
Gounod answered, "Sans peur, non!"
Rossini said, "Dans tous les cas, sans reproche et sans égal."
Gounod is, I think, the gentlest, the most modest, and the kindest-hearted
man in the world. His music is like him, gentle and graceful. Princess
Mathilde asked me to sing again; but, as I had not brought any music,
Auber offered to accompany me in the "Song of the Djins," from his new
opera, which I had so often sung with him. It was not the song I should
have selected; but, as Auber desired it, I was glad to gratify him, and
was delighted when I saw Rossini compliment Auber, who (like the tenor
before the drop-curtain, who waves his hand toward the soprano as if all
the merit of the performance was due to her) waved his hand toward me,
which suggested to Rossini to make me a reflected compliment.
This was a great occasion, seeing and hearing Rossini, Gounod, and Auber
at the same time. I shall never forget that evening. I wonder that I had
the courage to sing before them. Among the guests was an Indian Nabob
dressed in all his orientals, who in himself would have been sufficient
attraction for a whole evening, had he not been totally eclipsed by the
three great artists. The Nabob probably expected more homage than he
received; but people hardly looked at him.
I was presented to him, and he seemed glad to speak English, which was not
of the best, but far better than his French. He told me a great deal about
his journey, the attractions of Paris, and about his country and family.
I asked him, by way of saying something (I was not particularly interested
in him or his family), how many children he had. He answered, "Quite a
"What does your Highness call a few?" I asked.
"Well, I think about forty," he replied, nonchalantly.
"That would be considered quite a large family here," I said.
The Nabob, of course, did not appreciate the profundity of this remark.
A few days after, the Princess Mathilde sent me a lovely fan which she had
painted herself, and Mr. Moulton is going to have it mounted. I am very
happy to have it as a souvenir of a memorable evening, besides being an
exquisite specimen of the Princess's talent as an artist. The Princess is
what one might call miscellaneous. She has a Corsican father, a German
mother, and a Russian husband, and as "cavaliere servente" (as they say in
Italy), a Dutchman. She was born in Austria, brought up in Italy, and
lives in France. She said once to Baron Haussmann, "If you go on making
boulevards like that, you will shut me up like a vestal."
"I will never make another, your Highness," he answered.
Every one is very much excited about a young Swedish girl called Christine
Nilsson, who has walked right into the star-light, for she really is a
star of the first magnitude. She has studied with Wachtel only one year,
and behold her now singing at the Théâtre Lyrique to crowded audiences in
the "Flûte Enchantée." Her voice has a wonderful charm; she sings without
the slightest effort, and naturally as a bird. She has some phenomenal
high notes, which are clear as bells. She makes that usually tedious
_grand aria_, which every singer makes a mess of, quite lovely and
musical, hovering as she does in the regions above the upper line like a
butterfly and trilling like a canary-bird. A Chinese juggler does not play
with his glass balls more dexterously than she plays with all the effects
and tricks of the voice. What luck for her to have blossomed like that
into a full-fledged prima-donna with so little effort. I have got to know
her quite well, as Miss Haggerty, who was at some school with her in
Paris, invites her often to lunch and asks me to meet her.
Nilsson is tall, graceful, slight, and very attractive, without being
actually handsome. She acts well and naturally, and with intelligence,
without exerting herself; she has the happy faculty of understanding and
seizing things _au vol_, instead of studying them. She has a regal future
before her. A second Jenny Lind! Their careers are rather similar. Jenny
Lind was a singer in cafés, and Nilsson played the violin in cafés in
Stockholm. She is clever, too! She has surrounded herself by a wall of
propriety, in the shape of an English _dame de compagnie_, and never moves
unless followed by her. This lady (Miss Richardson) is correctness and
primness personified, and so _comme il faut_ that it is actually
oppressive to be in the same room with her. Nilsson herself is full of fun
and jokes, but at the same time dignified and serious.
Christine Nilsson gave Mrs. Haggerty a box at the Théâtre Lyrique, where
she is now playing "Traviata" (I think it was the director's box), and I
was invited to go with her and Clem. The box was behind the curtain and
very small and very dark. But it was intensely amusing to see how things
were done, and how prosaic and matter-of-fact everything was. If ever I
thanked my stars that I was not a star myself it was then.
Everything looked so tawdry and claptrap: the dirty boards, the grossly
painted scenery, the dingy workmen shuffling about grumbling and gruff,
ordered and scolded by a vulgar superior. Of course the stars do not see
all these things, because they only appear when the heavens are ready for
them to shine in.
The overture, so it sounded to us, was a clash of drums, trumpets, and
trombones all jumbled together. After the three knocks of the director,
which started up the dust of ages into our faces until we were almost
suffocated, the curtain rose slowly with great noise and rumbling.
The audience looked formidable as we saw it through the mist of cloudy
gas-light, a sea of faces, of color and vagueness. The incongruity of
costumes was a thing to weep over. If they had tried they could not have
made it worse. The lady guests, walking and chatting, in a _soi-disant_
elegant salon, were dressed, some in Louis XV. splendor, some in dogesses'
brocades, some in modern finery, with bows and ribbons and things looped
up any way. Nilsson was dressed in quite modern style--flounces, laces,
and fringes, and so forth, while Alfredo had donned a black velvet coat _à
la_ something, with a huge jabot which fell over a frilled shirt-front. He
wore short velvet trousers, and black-silk stockings covered his thin legs
without the least attempt at padding.
The "padre" was in a shooting-jacket, evidently just in from a riding-
tour. He held a riding-stick, and wore riding-gantlets which he flourished
about with such wide gesticulations that I thought he was going to hit
Nilsson in the face.
We could not hear the singing so well from where we sat; but the orchestra
was overpowering, and the applause deafening, like peals of thunder.
I laughed when the gang of workmen rushed on to the stage as soon as the
curtain came down, and began sweeping and taking down one set of furniture
and putting on another; especially in the last act, when Violetta's bed
came on and the men threw the pillows from one to the other, as if they
were playing ball. They hung up a crucifix, which I thought was
unnecessary, and brought in a candlestick. I wondered if they were going
to put a warming-pan in the bed. A mat was laid down with great precision.
Then Nilsson came in, dressed in a flounced petticoat trimmed with lace, a
"matinée," and black slippers, and got into the bed.
After the performance was over the curtain was raised and the artists came
forward to bow; the stage was covered with flowers and wreaths. And
Nilsson, in picking up her floral tributes, was wreathed in smiles; but
they faded like mist before the sun the minute the curtain was lowered,
and she looked tired and worn out. Her maid was there, waiting with a
shawl to wrap around the shoulders of the hot prima-donna, and the prim
Miss Richardson ready to escort her to her room, while the army of shirt-
sleeved men invaded the stage like bees, with brooms which, though
anything but new, I hope swept clean. Then everything was dark and dismal,
lit only by one or two candles and a solitary lantern. All that was so
brilliant a moment before was now only a confused mass of disillusions.
Nilsson and her duenna drove to Mrs. H----'s and had supper with us. One
would never have dreamt that she had been dying of consumption an hour
before, to see her stow away ham, salad, and pudding in great quantities.
Then she embraced us all and drove off in her coupé. The star was going to
set. I went home, glad that my life lay in other paths.
PARIS, _March, 1865._
DEAR M.,--Do not be anxious about me. When Mrs. M---- wrote, I was really
in danger of a _fluxion de poitrine_. I am sorry she worried you
unnecessarily. I am much better; in fact, I am far on the road to
recovery. If every one had such a nice time when they are ill as I had
they would not be in a hurry to get well. When I was convalescent enough
to come down-stairs, and the doctor had said his last word (the
traditional "you must be careful"), I had my _chaise-longue_ moved down
into Henry's studio, and Monsieur Gudin, who is the kindest man in the
world, offered to come there and paint a picture in order to amuse and
Bierstadt, the American painter, who is in Paris, also proposed to come.
Then those two artists ordered canvases of the same size, and Beaumont,
not to be outdone, ordered a larger canvas, and Henry announced his
intention of finishing an already commenced landscape.
Behold, then, your invalid, surrounded by these celebrated artists,
reclining on a _chaise-longue_, a table with _tisanes_ and remedies near
by, and the four painters painting. Gudin is painting a seascape;
Bierstadt, a picture of California; Beaumont, of course, his graceful
ladies and cherubs. It amused me to see how differently they painted.
Gudin spread his paints on a very large table covered with glass, and used
a great many brushes; Bierstadt used a huge palette, and painted rather
finically, whereas Beaumont had quite a small palette and used few
brushes. I was very sorry when my convalescence came to an end and the
pictures were finished; but I had the delight of receiving the four
pictures, which the four artists begged me to accept as a souvenir of the
"pleasant days in the studio."
Another pleasant thing happened during "the pleasant days in the studio,"
which was the gift of a beautiful gold medal which the Emperor sent me as
a souvenir of the day I sang the _Benedictus_ in the chapel of the
Tuileries. It is a little larger than a five-franc piece, and has on one
side the head of the Emperor encircled by "Chapelle des Tuileries," and on
the other side "Madame Moulton" and the date.
We are all dreadfully sad about the Duke de Morny's death. He was very
much appreciated, and a favorite with every one. They say that the Duchess
cut off all her hair and put it into his coffin. I never heard before that
she was such a loving wife. I only hope that she will not need her braids
to keep on her next wedding-wreath.
We have just heard of the assassination of that good, kind President
Lincoln. How dreadful!
I have a new teacher called Delsarte, the most unique specimen I have ever
met. My first impression was that I was in the presence of a
_concierge_ in a second-class establishment; but I soon saw that he
was the great master I had heard described so often. He is not a real
singing teacher, for he does not think the voice worth speaking of; he has
a theory that one can express more by the features and all the tricks he
teaches, and especially by the manner of enunciation, than by the voice.
We were (Aunty and I) first led into the salon, and then into the music-
room, so called because the piano is there and the stand for music, but no
other incumbrances as furniture.
On the walls were hung some awful diagrams to illustrate the master's
method of teaching. These diagrams are crayon-drawings of life-sized faces
depicting every emotion that the human face is capable of expressing, such
as love, sorrow, murder, terror, joy, surprise, etc.
It is Delsarte's way, when he wants you to express one of these emotions
in your voice, to point with a soiled forefinger to the picture in
question which he expects you to imitate. The result lends expression to
The piano is of a pre-Raphaelite construction, and stands in the middle of
the room like an island in a lake, with a footstool placed over the pedals
(he considers the pedal as useless). The lid of the piano was absent, and,
to judge from the inside, I should say that the piano was the receptacle
for everything that belonged to the Delsarte homestead. There were
inkstands, pens, pencils, knives, wire, matches, toothpicks, half-smoked
cigars, even remnants of his luncheon, which seemed to have been black
bread and cheese, and dust galore. Delsarte had on a pair of much-worn
embroidered slippers, a velvet _calotte_, the tassels of which swayed
with each of his emotions, and a dilapidated _robe de chambre_ which
opened at every movement, disclosing his soiled plaid foulard doing duty
for a collar.
On my telling him that I desired to take some lessons of him, he asked me
to sing something for him. Seeing the music of Duprato's "Il était nuit
déjà," I proposed singing that, and he sat down at the pedal-less piano to
accompany me. When I arrived at the phrase, "Un souffle d'air léger
apportait jusqu'à nous l'odeur d'un oranger," he interrupted me. "Repeat
that!" he cried. "Il faut qu'on sente le souffle d'air et l'odeur de
l'oranger." I said to myself, "... no one could 'sentir un oranger' in
this room; one could only smell Delsarte's bad tobacco."
He begged me to sing something else.
"Will you accompany Gounod's 'Medje' for me?" I asked him.
"No," he replied. "I will listen; you must accompany yourself. There are
certain songs that cannot be accompanied by any one but the singer. This
is one of them! You feel yourself, don't you, that it is absolutely
necessary for you to clutch something when singing this? A weak chord or a
too powerful one struck in a wrong place would spoil entirely the effect,
and even the best accompanist cannot foresee when that effect is going to
be produced." I think this is so clever! "'Voi che sapete' can be
accompanied by any school girl," he continued. "It is plain sailing; but
in 'Medje' the piano must be part of the singer and breathe with him." I
sat down at the piano and sang. When I came to "Prends cette lame et
plonges la dans mon coeur," he stopped me short, and pointing to a
horrible picture on the wall indicating bloody murder and terror (No. 6),
he cried, "Voilà l'expression qu'il faut avoir." I sang the phrase over
again, trying to imagine what Medje's lover must have felt; but I could
not satisfy Delsarte. He said my voice ought to tremble; and, in fact, I
ought to sing false when I say, "Ton image encore vivante dans mon coeur
qui ne bat plus." "No one," he said, "in such a moment of emotion could
keep on the right note." I tried again, in vain! If I had had a dagger in
my hand and a brigand before me, I might perhaps have been more
successful. However, he let it pass; but to show that it could be done he
sang it for me, and actually did sing it false. Curiously enough, it
sounded quite right, tremolo and all. There is no doubt that he is a
_great artist_. One can see that Faure and Coquelin (the actor) have
both profited by his unique teaching. He assured me that there is no art
like that of making people believe what you want them to. For instance, he
pretends that he can sing "Il pleut, il pleut, bergère," and make you hear
the patter of the _bergère's_ heels on the wet sod, or wherever she
was trying to _rentrer ses blancs moutons_. He sang it with the fullest
conviction, and asked me what I thought of it. I shut my eyes and tried to
conjure up the _bergère_ and her heels. My head began to whirl with all
this talk, and, on taking leave of my new master, I promised him that I
would try to sing false until the next lesson. Another thing he said was:
"Never try to accompany yourself when the accompaniment is difficult.
There is nothing so painful as to see a singer struggling with tremolos
and arpeggios." How right he is!
He has one theory about the trembling of the chin. It certainly is very
effective. When in "Medje" I say, "Tu n'as pas vu mes larmes, tout la nuit
j'ai pleuré," Delsarte says, "Make your chin tremble; just try it once,"
pointing to a diagram, "and every one will be overcome." I have tried it
and have seen the effect. But I am letting you into all Delsarte's most
PARIS, _July, 1865._
DEAR M.,--You must forgive me if I have not written lately; but we have
been on a visit to the Duke and Duchess de Persigny for the past week. I
did not have time to do more than dress for driving and drive, dress for
afternoon tea, dress for dinner, and dine.
The estates of Chamarande are beautiful, the château itself is very
magnificent and arranged with the Duchess's taste, which is perfect though
The château has a moat around it, over which is a stone bridge which leads
to the entrance on the side opposite the broad terraces bordered by cut
trees, as in Versailles. The park is very large, filled with beautiful old
trees, and most artistically laid out.
The Duke de Persigny is perfectly delightful, genial, kind, and certainly
the cleverest man of the day, with a temper which is temper-proof. I never
saw him out of it, and, well as I know him, I have never seen him ruffled
in any way, and sometimes there were occasions, goodness knows!
The Duchess is still handsome and attractive; her pronounced originality
lends her a peculiar charm. She has many admiring friends who are true to
her, and I must say that when she is a friend she is a true one, and never
fails you. Her originality frequently leads her beyond conventionality;
for instance, the other day she took it into her head to dine out of
doors. If she wanted to picnic _al fresco_, why did she not choose some
pretty place in the park or in the woods? But no, she had the usual
elaborate dinner served directly outside the château, and on the gravel
walk. The servants, powdered and in short breeches as usual, served us in
their customary solemnity; but they must have wondered why we preferred to
sit on the gravel, with a draught of cold air on our backs, when we might
have been comfortably seated in a big and airy room with a carpet under
our feet. However, such was the wish of the châtelaine, and no one dared
say a word, not even the Duke, though he protested meekly.
Later on the Duke had his revenge, for in the midst of our breezy repast
there came a downpour of rain, accompanied by lightning and peals of
thunder, which necessitated a hasty retreat.
The Duchess, who is very timid in thunder-storms, was the first to rush
into the house, the guests following pell-mell, and our dinner was
After our return to Petit Val we had the visit of Auber's protégé, a young
man called Massenet. One day, in Paris, two months ago, Auber said to me:
"I am very much interested in a former pupil of the Conservatoire who took
the Grand-Prix de Rome, and has just come back from his four years'
musical studies in Rome. As he is more or less a stranger in Paris, I
should be very thankful if you would interest yourself for him. He really
is a genius; but, as so often happens, geniuses don't have pocket-money."
I answered: "Please tell him to come and see me. I have some music I wish
to have transposed. Do you think that he would be willing to do it?"
"Certainly; he would be glad to do anything," was the answer.
The next day a pale young man presented himself. "You are Monsieur
Massenet?" I inquired.
"Yes, Madame," came the gentle answer.
Thereupon I gave him the music, and I showed him to a quiet little room in
the upper part of the house, which contained a piano, writing-table, pen
and ink, etc., and left him to his fate. He came two or three times before
I heard him play, and then it was only by chance that I passed through the
corridor, and imagine my astonishment at hearing the most divine music
issuing from the room where the young man was working. I rushed in,
"What is that?"
"Nothing," he answered.
"Nothing!" I exclaimed. "I never heard anything so exquisite, Do play it
"It was simply something that passed through my head," he answered.
"Then let something else pass through your head. I must hear more." I
said. Then he played, and I sat and listened to the most bewildering and
beautiful music that I ever heard. From that moment there was no more
copying. What a genius he is! I wish you could hear him improvise!
We have invited him frequently, and when we are at Petit Val he comes
often out to see us, and luxuriates in the repose and comfort of our life
here. He has already written some lovely songs under its influence. He
composed one called "l'Esclave," and dedicated it to me for my birthday.
He accompanies me as no one has ever done before.
Auber, who drives out occasionally, is delighted to see that "Our
Massenet," as he generally calls him, is getting color in his pale cheeks
and his bright and eager eyes are brighter than ever, and he is actually
PARIS, _January, 1866._
We have just returned from Nice and Cannes, also from a very disappointing
yachting cruise in the Mediterranean, which proved to be a complete
fiasco. I must tell you about it. Lord Albert Gower had invited us to go
to Spezia on his beautiful yacht. From there we were to go to Florence,
and later make a little trip in Italy. We had all been asked to a dinner
at the Duke de Vallombrosa's villa at Cannes, and some of us to spend the
The evening before we started there was a large dinner at the prefect's
given in honor of the Austrian Ambassador, Prince Metternich, who had come
on an official visit concerning an archduke, at which Lord Albert proposed
that we should take Cannes _en route_, spend the night there, and start
the next day for Spezia.
I thought that I was going to have a beautiful time when we left Nice. The
sun was shining brightly, and there was every prospect of a good breeze,
and I settled down on deck with books and work, thinking how delightful it
was all going to be, and how pleasant it was to get away from the
fatiguing gaieties of Nice, where there had been a perfect avalanche of
dinners, balls, and theater-parties which even surpassed Paris.
Well! A dead calm set in about an hour after we had started, and only a
vestige of a breeze wafted us along on our way, and we never arrived at
Cannes till seven o'clock, just in time to disembark, jump into a
carriage, and reach the Duke de Vallombrosa's villa. I thought that I was
very expeditious over my toilette, notwithstanding which I found myself
half an hour late for dinner. Fortunately, however, our hosts were lenient
and accepted my excuses.
Lord and Lady Brougham, Duke de Croy, and many others were there. And who
else do you think? No less a personage than Jenny Lind! You may imagine my
delight at seeing her--"the Goddess of Song," the idol of my youth--about
whom still hung a halo.
She is neither handsome nor distinguished-looking; in fact, quite the
contrary: plain features, a pert nose, sallow skin, and very yellow hair.
However, when she smiled, which was not often, her face became almost
After dinner the Duchess de Vallombrosa begged her to sing; but she flatly
refused, and there was no other music, thank heaven! I was presented to
her, in spite of her too evident dislike for new acquaintances; but when
she heard that I sang she seemed more amiable and interested. She even
asked me to come to see her the next day. "That is," she said, "if you can
climb my hill." I told her that I was sure I could climb her hill, and
would, even if I had to climb on all fours.
After having been on the glaring Mediterranean all day I could hardly keep
my eyes open, and retired before the last carriage had driven away. The
next morning I looked out of my window and saw our yacht dancing on the
sparkling waves. We expected to leave for Spezia that afternoon.
At eleven o'clock, the hour appointed, I commenced my pilgrimage to the
hill of the "Swedish nightingale," with what emotion, I can hardly tell
you! I left the carriage at the foot of the hill, and climbed and climbed,
until I reached the heaven where the angel lived. It was the reverse of
Jacob's dream. His angel climbed down to him, whereas I had to climb up to
mine. She always used a donkey for her climbings.
She received me very cordially, saying, "I welcome you to my
_bicoque_," and led me through a few badly furnished rooms with hay-
stuffed sofas and hard, uncompromising chairs and queer-looking tables
painted in red and green out on to the veranda, which commanded a
magnificent view over the sea and the Esterel Mountains.
I wish you could have seen her! She was dressed in a white brocade trimmed
with a piece of red silk around the bottom, a red, blousy waist covered
with gold heads sewed fantastically over it, perhaps odds and ends of old
finery, and gold shoes!
Just fancy, at eleven o'clock in the morning! We talked music. She hated
Verdi and all he had made, she hated Rossini and all he had made; she
hated the French; she hated the Americans; she abhorred the very name of
Barnum, who, she said, "exhibited me just as he did the big giant or any
other of his monstrosities."
"But," said I, "you must not forget how you were idolized and appreciated
in America. Even as a child I can remember how they worshiped Jenny Lind."
"Worshiped or not," she answered, sharply, "I was nothing more than a show
in a showman's hands; I can never forget that."
We sat on her veranda, and she told me all about her early life and her
musical career. She said she was born in 1820, and when only ten years old
she used to sing in cafes in Stockholm. At seventeen she sang "Alice" in
"Robert-le-Diable"! Then we talked of our mutual teacher, dear Garcia, of
whom she took lessons in 1841 and whom, for a wonder, she liked.
At the _Rhein-fest_ given for Queen Victoria in 1844 she said that she
had had a great success, and that Queen Victoria had always been a friend
to her since that time.
I asked her when she first sang in London.
"I think it was in 1847, or thereabouts," she replied. "Then I went to
Paris; but I do not wish to speak of that horrid place."
"Is Paris such a horrid place?" I asked. "I wish you would come while I am
[Illustration: JENNY LIND]
"Never, never!" she cried. "They treated me so abominably I vowed that I
would never set foot in Paris again, and although they have offered me
every possible inducement I have always refused."
"What a pity!" I exclaimed. "Would you not like to see the Exposition in
Paris next year? I think it might interest you."
"Yes, that might interest me; but Paris! Paris!"
"Do you know Auber?" I asked.
"Auber. No, I have always wanted to know him, but have never had an
"If you will come to Paris, I will arrange that you meet him."
"I will! I will! And then I will sing for him!" she said, with almost
How delighted I was to think that I might be the medium to bring them
She asked me a great many questions about my singing. Suddenly she said,
"Make a trill for me."
I looked about for a piano to give me a note to start on. But a piano was
evidently the thing where the Goldschmidts had drawn the line. I made as
good a trill as I could without one.
"Very good!" said she, nodding her head approvingly. "I learned my trill
this way." And she made a trill for me, accentuating the upper note.
Pointing her finger at me, she said, "You try it."
I tried it. Unless one has learned to trill so it is very difficult to do;
but I managed it somehow.
Then she said, in her abrupt way, "What vocalizes do you sing?"
I replied that I had arranged Chopin's waltz in five flats as a vocalize.
"In the original key?" she asked. "I know it well. It is one of
Goldschmidt's favorite concert pieces."
"Not in the original key. I have transposed it two notes lower, and put
some sort of words to it. I also sing as a vocalize the first sixteen bars
of the overture of Mendelssohn's 'Midsummer Night's Dream.'"
"I don't think that I could do that," she said.
"I am sure you could," I answered, upon which she tried it. She sang it
slowly but perfectly, shutting her eyes as if feeling her way cautiously,
for the intonations are very difficult.
Twelve o'clock sounded from a cuckoo-clock in the next room, and I felt
that my visit, fascinating as my angel was, must come to an end. I left
her still standing on the veranda in her white brocade, and as I walked
off she made the trill as an adieu.
I reached the villa in time for breakfast, after which our hosts drove us
down to the pier, where the little rowboat was waiting to take us out to
I said that our trip was a failure! It was more than a failure. It meant a
gale, thunder, lightning, and sudden death, and everything in the Litany,
and we finished ignominiously by taking refuge in the first port we could
reach, and going on to our destination by train.
PARIS, _February 12, 1866._
DEAR AUNTY,--There has been a regular deluge of balls in Paris this
winter. The Minister of Marine gave a gorgeous one, the _clou_ of which
was the entrance at midnight precisely of _Les Quatres Continents_, being
four long _cortèges_ representing Europe, America, Africa, and Asia.
I was quite provoked that they did not ask me to be in the American
_cortège_. I should have loved to have been an Indian squaw, except that a
blanket is a rather warm _toilette de bal_. They wanted me to take a
costume of a Spanish lady in the _cortège_ of Europe, but I refused; if I
could not be in the American I did not want to be in any of the others.
Taking part in the _cortège_ meant waiting till midnight before appearing,
and then, being in it, you did not see it. I had a banal and not a correct
costume of an Amazone Louis XIII., and stayed in the ballroom all the
evening, and saw the procession when it came in. It was very interesting
and really beautifully arranged.
Africa (Mademoiselle de Sèvres) was brought in on a camel fresh from the
jungle of the Jardin des Plantes, and followed by quantities of natives of
every variety of shade, from sepia to chocolate, as near to nature as they
dared go without spoiling their beauty. Some of the costumes were very
fantastic. Ladies dressed in skirts made of feathers, and beads hanging
everywhere, copied after well-known pictures, and especially after the
costumes of "l'Africaine," of the Opera. The men wore enormous wigs made
of black wool, and black _tricots_, blacker than the most African of
Asia (Baronne Erlanger) was standing on a platform carried by menials
hidden from view and smothered under tiger and other skins. She was poised
with one foot on the head of a tiger, one hand was clutching a date-tree,
and the other hand clinging to the back of a stuffed leopard, it must have
been difficult for her to keep her balance; her platform seemed very
shaky, and the date-tree waved as if it had been in a tornado. The natives
who followed her were more beaded and feathery and multicolored than the
Africans, otherwise they looked much alike.
America was represented by a pretty girl (a Miss Carter, of Boston). She
was brought in reclining in a hammock of gay colors. The American natives
were not of the kind one meets in New York and Boston; they were mostly
the type taken from the most popular books. There was the sedate Puritan
from Longfellow's "Evangeline"; the red Indians from Cooper's books;
Hiawatha and Pocahontas, of course; and the type most beloved in the
European market, that of the plantation tyrant who drags his victim to the
whipping-post with pointed stakes and cudgels, _à la Oncle Tom_, and
lastly the Mexican types with slouched hats and picturesque shirts and
leather leggings, pistols bulging from their belts.
Europe (Madame d'Arjuson) was seated in a Roman chair, and looked very
comfortable, in comparison with the other Continents; the platform on
which she sat was loaded with flowers and dragged in on wheels. All the
national costumes of Europe were extremely pretty and varied. The German
peasants in great variety, the Italian _ciociara_, the Spanish toreador,
and the Dutch fisherwoman with her wooden shoes--all were complete.
Worth and Bobergh had not slept for nights, thinking out the different
costumes and worrying over the details. Worth had the most-brain work, and
Bobergh was the sleepy partner.
The cotillon was superb; it commenced at two o'clock and finished at the
break of day. The favors were of every nationality, imported from all over
the world, and tied up with every imaginable national color. I danced with
the Count Vogüé, who is by far the best dancer in Paris. He got masses of
favors and gave them all to me, and I also received a great quantity; so
that when I went to the carriage I almost needed a dray to carry them.
PARIS, _March, 1866._
DEAR M.,--I think of your sitting in your Cambridge home and reading this
account of the frivolities of your daughter. While the scene of last night
is just in my mind, I will tell you about it.
Yesterday was Count Pourtales's birthday, and Prince Metternich thought
out a wonderful scheme for a surprise for Count Pourtales and the rest of
us. Princess Metternich and Countess Pourtales were the only ones taken
into his confidence.
There was a dinner at the Pourtales' in honor of the occasion, and the
guests were Baron Alphonse Rothschild, Count and Countess Moltke, Prince
Sagan, the Duke de Croy, and ourselves.
On arriving at seven o'clock we were ushered into the salon, and later
went in to dinner. All the lights were placed on the table, leaving the
rest of the room in darkness. The servants seemed to me principally
butlers with the traditional side-whiskers, or chasseurs with beards or
mustaches. I thought that they might be extra servants brought in for the
The first course was served. A little awkward spilling of soup on the
table-cloth was not remarked upon. The dish came on with its sauce. A
startled cry came from a lady on receiving some drops of it on her bare
neck, to which no one paid any particular attention. Then, a few moments
later, some wine was carelessly spilled on one of the gentlemen's heads.
These things can so easily happen, no one said anything.
The filet was handed to me, and at the same time the sauce-dish was
uncomfortably near my neck, and directly under my nose. This was too
nonchalant, and my surprise was still greater when the servant, in an
unnatural and gruff voice, said, "Do you want any of this stuff?" I looked
up at the man, and recognized a twinkle in a familiar eye, and as the
twinkle was accentuated by a powerful wink I began to understand and held
Things might have gone on longer if one of the waiters had not been too
bold, and on serving Countess Moltke, a very pretty American lady married
to a Dane, pushed her arm a little roughly, and in an obviously disguised
voice said, "Better take some of this, you won't get another chance."
She called out in an indignant voice, "Did you ever hear the like?" Count
Pourtales seemed dazed, while his wife looked as unconcerned as if there
was nothing unusual. Then the insolent waiters began talking across the
table to each other. One said, "Don't you see that lady with the rose has
not got any salad?" The other answered, "Attend to your own affairs."
Count Pourtales, crimson with mortification, was about to get up and
apologize, when he was suddenly pulled back into his seat, and the absurd
waiters began throwing pellets of bread at him.
Imagine his feelings! To be treated in this way in one's own house, by
one's own servants! Every one of them must have suddenly gone crazy, or
else they were drunk. For a moment consternation was depicted on all the
countenances; we thought the end of the world had come.
When things had gone so far, Prince Metternich stood up and made a pretty
little speech for the host, and we all drank his health, and the waiters
all took off their wigs and false beards and waved them in the air.
Six of the most fashionable young gentlemen of Paris had been serving us!
The Pourtales' own servants, who had kept aloof, now came in, and the
_ci-devant_ waiters drew up chairs between those at the table, and the
dinner finished amidst great hilarity.
PARIS, _August, 1866._
DEAR M.,--We were invited to go out to Fontainebleau yesterday for dinner.
We found it a very hot ride from Paris, and really suffered in the crowded
train. When we arrived at the station we found a coupé from the Imperial
stables waiting for us, and an extra carriage for the maid, the valet, and
the trunk, which contained our change of dress for dinner. I wished that
the coupé had been an open carriage. I love to drive through those lovely
avenues in the park. Princess Metternich suggested that we should take
some green corn with us, as the Empress had expressed the wish to taste
this American delicacy, and I took some from Petit Val.
On reaching the palace we were met by the Vicomte Walsh, who led the way
to the apartment of the Baroness de Pierres, one of the _dames d'honneur_
of the Empress (an American lady, formerly Miss Thorne, of New York), who
was expecting us.
You may imagine my astonishment at seeing her smoking--what do you think?
Nothing less than a real common clay pipe, and you may imagine her
surprise at seeing me, followed by my servant, who carried a large basket
containing the corn. I told her about it, and that I had brought some at
the instigation of the Princess Metternich, in order that the Empress
could try it. She seemed to be delighted at the idea, and exclaimed, "We
must get hold of the chef at once and tell him how to cook it." She rang
her bell and gave the order. Promptly Monsieur Jean appeared in his fresh
white apron and immaculate jacket and white _couvre-chef_. Baroness de
Pierres and I surpassed ourselves in giving contradictory directions as
to the cooking of it. She thought it ought to be boiled a long time, while
I maintained that it required very little time.
"You must leave the silk on," said she.
"Has it got silk?" asked the bewildered chef.
I was of the opinion that the husks should be taken off. "By no means!"
she declared, and explained that in America the corn was always served in
The chef, trying to analyze this unusual article of food, lifted one of
the ears from the basket and examined it.
"En robe de chambre, alors, Madame!" said he, and looked dismayed at these
"Yes," she replied, "just like a potato--_en robe de chambre_."
We could hear him as he left the room, followed by the basket, muttering
to himself, "Soie! robe de chambre! Soie! robe de chambre!" in his most
satirical tone. I began to feel a little nervous about it myself, and
wondered if for this broth there had not been too many cooks.
We went out before dinner to see the famous carp; I looked in vain for the
one with the ring in its nose.
At dinner, besides the Household, were the Princess Mathilde, Monsieur
Ollivier, Monsieur Perrière, the Duke de Persigny, Baron Haussmann, and
The corn came in due time served as _légume_.
I was mortified when I saw it appear, brought in on eight enormous silver
platters, four ears on each. It looked pitiful! Silk, _robe de chambre_
and all, steaming like a steam-engine. Every one looked aghast, and no one
dared to touch it; and when I wanted to show them how it was eaten in its
native land they screamed with laughter. Baron Haussmann asked me if the
piece I was playing (he meant on the flute) was in _la-bémol_?
I looked to the Baroness de Pierres for support; but, alas! her eyes
refused to meet mine and were fixed on her plate.
I tried to make the corn less objectionable by unwrapping the cobs and
cutting off the corn. Then I added butter and salt, and it was passed
about; first, of course, to the Emperor, who liked it very much; but the
Empress pushed her plate aside with a grimace, saying, "I don't like it;
it smells like a baby's flannels."
The Emperor, seeing the crushed look on my face, raised his glass and
said, with a kind glance at me, "Here's to the American corn!" I
reproached the Princess Metternich for having suggested my taking it
COMPIÈGNE, _November 22, 1866._
DEAR A.,--You know it has always been my wish to see the life at
Compiègne, and behold, here I am!
We received the invitation twelve days ago. It reads thus:
MAISON DE L'EMPEREUR
_Palais des Tuileries, le 10 Novembre 1866.
Par ordre de l'Empereur, j'ai l'honneur de vous prévenir que vous êtes
invité, ainsi que Madame Charles Moulton, à passer huit jours au
Palais de Compiègne, du 22 au 29 Novembre.
Des voitures de la Cour vous attendront le 22, à l'arrivée à Compiègne
du train partant de Paris à 2 heures 1/2, pour vous conduire au
Agréez, Monsieur, l'assurance de ma considération très distinguée.
_Le Premier Chambellan_.
V'te de Laferrière.
Madame Charles Moulton.
This gave me plenty of time to order all my dresses, wraps, and everything
else that I needed for this visit of a week to royalty.
[Illustration: THE MAIN FAÇADE--CHÂTEAU DE COMPIÈGNE]
I was obliged to have about twenty dresses, eight day costumes (counting
my traveling suit), the green cloth dress for the hunt, which I was told
was absolutely necessary, seven ball dresses, five gowns for tea. Such a
quantity of boxes and bundles arrived at the house in Paris that
Mademoiselle Wissembourg was in a blue fidget, fussing about, boring me
with silly, unnecessary suggestions, and asking so many useless questions
that I wished her at the bottom of the Red Sea.
A professional packer came to pack our trunks, of which I had seven and
C---- had two; the maid and the valet each had one, making, altogether,
quite a formidable pile of luggage. As we saw it on the wagon driven from
the house, it seemed an absurdly large amount for only a week's visit.
We arrived at the St. Lazare Station at 2.30, as indicated on the
We found the Vicomte Walsh (the Chamberlain of the Emperor) waiting to
show the guests where the train was. It would have been rather difficult
not to have seen it, as it was the only one in the station, and was marked
"Extra and Imperial."
There were several large salon carriages with large, comfortable
_fauteuils_, and some tables covered with newspapers and _journaux
illustrés_ to beguile the time. It would take too much time to tell you
the names of all the people I recognized at the station; but in the
carriage with us were the Duke and Duchess Fernan Nuñez, Madame de
Bourgogne (whose husband is Equerry of the Emperor), the two Princes
Murat, Joachim and Achille, Monsieur Davilliers, Count Golz (the German
Ambassador), Baron Haussmann and his daughter, and Mr. de Radowitz of the
German embassy, who immediately stretched himself out contentedly in a
comfortable arm-chair and fell fast asleep.
I should say there were about fifty or sixty guests.
We actually flew over land and dale. I never traveled so fast in all my
life; but then I had never been in an Imperial train before. We did not
stop until we reached the station of Compiègne.
I think the whole twelve thousand inhabitants of Compiègne were gathered
there to stare at us, and they did stare persistently, until we had
mounted the many equipages waiting for us and had driven away.
It certainly must have been very entertaining for them to see the long
procession of carriages, the hundreds of trunks, the flurrying maids, and
the self-important valets.
There were two landaus: one for the Metternichs and one for the German
The _chars-à-bancs_, of which there must have been at least ten, were
dark green outlined with red, each with four prancing horses whose tails,
jauntily braided with red cords, were tied to the saddles.
Each carriage had two postilions, who looked very trim in their short
velvet jackets embroidered with gold and covered with endless buttons.
They wore white breeches, long top-boots, black-velvet caps over their
white wigs, and their little pigtails, tied with a black bow, hung down
their backs, flapping up and down as they galloped.
The Princess Metternich had fourteen trunks and two maids; the Prince had
his private secretary and valet, and a goodly number of trunks. This will
give you a vague idea of the amount of baggage which had to be transported
in the _fourgons_.
Don't you think we must have made a very imposing spectacle, as we rattled
through the quiet town of Compiègne, over its old stone pavement, the
postilions blowing their horns, cracking their whips, the horses galloping
full speed, the _chars-à-bancs_ filled with handsomely dressed ladies, and
after this long procession came the maids and the valets and mountainous
piles of baggage?
When we entered the _grande cour_ (inclosure), the sentinels grasped their
guns and saluted, as we passed by them, before we pulled up in front of
the grand staircase of the château, where an army of lackeys were waiting
to help us alight.
The Grand Chamberlain received us at the head of the stairs with pleasant
cordiality and waved us toward a _huissier_, who, dressed in a black
livery with heavy chains around his neck, looked very important. He, in
his turn, passed us on to the particular valet allotted to us, who
pompously and with great dignity showed us the way to our apartments.
Our names were on the doors, and we entered the brilliantly lighted rooms,
which, after our journey, seemed most welcome with their bright fires and
Tea and chocolate were on the table waiting us, and I regaled myself while
the soldiers (who seem to be the men-of-all-work here) brought in the
trunks and the maid and valet were unpacking.
I must describe our rooms. We have a large salon, two bedrooms, two
servants' rooms, and an antechamber. In the salon there are two long
windows which reach to the floor and overlook the park. The walls are
paneled with pink and mauve brocade. The covering of the furniture and the
curtains are of the same stuff.
My bedroom is furnished in white and green with a delightful _chaise
longue_ and large _fauteuils_, which to me are more inviting than the
stiff Empire style of the salon.
I made my toilette in a maze of excitement; my maid was confused and
agitated, and I thought I should never be ready. I think you will be
interested to hear what I wore to-night. It was light-green tulle,
embroidered in silver, the waist trimmed with silver fringe. If one could
see the waistband, one would read WORTH in big letters. I thought it was
best to make a good impression at the start, so I put on my prettiest
On leaving our apartment, a little before seven, we found the lackey
waiting to show us the way to the _Grande Salle des Fêtes_, and we
followed his plump white calves through the long corridors, arriving at
last at the salon where the company was to assemble.
Here we found more white calves belonging to the gorgeous liveries and the
powdered heads of the lackeys, who stood there to open the doors for all
comers. We were not the last, but of the latest, to arrive.
The salon seemed immense to me. On one side the windows (or rather the
doors) opened on to the terrace; on the opposite side of the walls,
between the pillars, were mirrors resting on gilded consoles. At one end
of the room was the statue of Laetitia Bonaparte (_Madame Mère_), and at
the other end was one of Napoleon I. Banquettes and tabourets of Gobelins
tapestry stood against the walls. The ceiling is a _chef-d'oeuvre_ of
The Vicomte de Laferrière and the Duchesse de Bassano, the _grande
maîtresse_, came forward to receive the guests.
[Illustration: SALLE DES FÊTES--CHÂTEAU DE COMPIÈGNE]
My first feeling, when I entered the room, was that I knew no one in this
numerous assemblage. There must have been a hundred people at least; but
gradually the faces of my acquaintances loomed one by one out of the mist,
and among them I recognized the lovely Marquise de Gallifet, who kindly
beckoned me to come and stand by her, for which I felt very grateful.
The chamberlains--there were many of them--bustled about, constantly
referring to some papers which they had in their hands, in order to tell
each gentleman which lady he was to take in to dinner.
The Grand Chamberlain glanced round the room with an all-comprehensive
look, and seemed intuitively to know when we were all present. He then
disappeared into his Majesty's private salon.
There was an ominous hush, a flutter of agitation, a stiff attitude of
expectancy, the guests arranging themselves according to their own
consciousness of their rank; and presently the doors of the salon were
quietly opened and their Majesties entered. The gentlemen bowed
reverentially; the ladies courtesied very low, and the sovereigns,
responding with a gracious inclination of the head, advanced toward us.
The Empress turned to the ladies, the Emperor to the gentlemen, speaking a
word of welcome to as many of the guests as the time allowed. Fifty or
sixty _bon soirs_ and _charmé de vous voir_'s occupy some time; but their
Majesties kept their eyes on the Grand Maréchal, and he kept his eye on
The Empress looked lovely. She wore a beautiful gown, a white-spangled
tulle, with a superb tiara of diamonds, and on her neck a _collier_ of
The Emperor was in white _culottes courtes_, white-silk stockings and
low shoes, as were the rest of the gentlemen. He wore the ribbon of the
_Légion d'honneur_, and on his left breast the star of the same.
The Grand Maréchal, waiting his opportunity, approached his Majesty, who
went up to the Empress and gave her his arm. The Grand Maréchal then led
the way slowly and with due stateliness to the banqueting hall.
The gentlemen offered their arms to their respective ladies, and we
marched in procession through the long gallery, trying to prevent
ourselves from slipping on the waxed floor, and passed between the
splendid _Cent Gardes_, who lined both sides of the entire length of this
enormous hall. Their uniforms are magnificent and dazzling; they wear
light-blue coats under their silver cuirasses, white breeches, and high,
shiny top-boots; and on their heads silver helmets, from which flow long
manes of white horsehair that hang down their backs.
There the men stood, motionless as statues, staring stolidly before them,
without so much as a stolen side-glance at the beauty and elegance passing
before their eyes.
This procession of ladies glittering with jewels, the officers and
diplomats in their splendid uniforms covered with decorations and gay-
colored _cordons_, made a sight never to be forgotten; at least, _I_ shall
never forget it.
When their Majesties entered the dining-room they separated, and took
their places on opposite sides of the table, half-way down its length and
exactly facing each other. The Emperor had Princess Metternich on his
right hand, and the Duchess of Fernan Nuñez on his left. The Empress had
the Austrian Ambassador, Prince Metternich, on her right, and the German
Ambassador, Count Golz, on her left.
The other _invités_ were placed according to their rank and position:
all the _gros bonnets_ were in their right places, you may be quite sure.
I was such a little _bonnet_ among all those great people that I was
practically nowhere, and at the tail end of everything except the members
of the Household and the ladyless gentlemen, who, of course, were below
There must have been about one hundred persons seated at the table. I
never saw such a tremendous long stretch of white linen.
The flowers, stiffly arranged at intervals, alternated with white
_épergnes_ filled with bonbons, and larger fruit-dishes filled with the
most delicious-looking fruit. All along the whole length of the table
were placed, at regular intervals, the groups of _pâte tendre_
representing the Hunt. These, as my cavalier (Count de Bourgogne) told me,
are made only at the Sèvres manufactory, expressly for the French
sovereigns. They were designed in the time of Louis XV. by an artist
called Urbain, and have been reproduced ever since. It would seem as if
nothing had been found worthy to replace them.
The _service de table_ was of white Sèvres porcelain with only the letter
"N" in gold surmounted by the Imperial crown; many of the courses were
served on silver plates, in the center of which were engraved the arms of
A strip of red velvet carpet laid over the polished floor surrounded the
table. On the outer side of this carpet were the chair, to be pushed
forward as soon as people were ready to sit down. The lackeys stood in a
line all the way down the room, making a very imposing sight in their red-
and-white liveries; there must have been forty or fifty of them at least.
The Emperor's _chasseur_ always stands behind his chair and serves him,
and him alone, taking a dish of each course, as it is brought in, from the
maître d'hôtel. No one but this privileged _chasseur_ can hand anything in
the way of food to his Majesty. When the Emperor has served himself, the
_chasseur_ hands the dish back to the _maître d'hôtel_, who passes it on
to the other servants, who then serve the guests. The Empress is served in
the same way.
I suppose this custom dates back to the time of the Borgias, when, in
order to save their own lives, they were willing to risk those of their
trusty menials by making them taste the food before it was put on the
A military band played during the dinner. It was placed in a large
circular loggia having windows opening on to a courtyard, thus serving two
purposes: to let in the air and let out the music, which, fortunately, it
did, otherwise we could not have heard ourselves speak.
The dinner lasted about an hour. (The Emperor dislikes sitting long at
table.) It seemed almost impossible that so much eating and drinking and
changing of plates--in fact, such an elaborate repast--could be got
through within such a short time. But it was!
When their Majesties had finished they rose, and everyone followed their
example. All the chairs were drawn from under you, _tant pis_ if you
were in the act of eating a pear and had not yet washed your fingers; but,
no matter, you had to skip across the red carpet in order to let their
A rather amusing incident occurred at dinner. One of the foreign
ministers, who is very vain of the smallness of his feet, had donned a
pair of patent-leather shoes evidently much too tight for him. During the
dinner he relieved his sufferings by slipping his aching toes out of them.
All went well until his chair was suddenly drawn from underneath him, as
their Majesties were about to pass. In utter despair he made the most
frantic efforts to recover the wandering shoes from under the table; but,
alas! the naughty things had made their escape far beyond reach (a little
way shoes have of doing when left to themselves); consequently, he was
obliged to trip across the red carpet as best he could without them. The
Empress, who keenly appreciates a comical situation, had noticed with
great amusement his manoeuvers and embarrassment, and (was it just for a
little fun?) stopped in passing and spoke to him, much to his confusion,
for it was impossible to prevent her from seeing his little, white
On our returning to the salon the magnificent _Cent Gardes_ stood just as
we had left them, and I wondered if they had unbent for a moment all the
time we had been at dinner.
The _cercle_ began, and their Majesties circulated about among their
guests. When the Empress was in front of me, she gave me her hand and said
some very kind words to me. She noticed I wore the bracelet she had given
me and seemed pleased. I do not know if you ever saw this handsome
bracelet--it is composed of large rubies and diamonds set in three heavy
gold coils. The date when the Empress gave it to me and her name are
inscribed inside. The Prince Imperial spoke to every one he knew. He has a
very sweet voice, such gentle manners and winning ways. He speaks
excellent English and, of course, several other languages.
Waldteufel, _le fabricant de valses_, put himself at the piano (an upright
one, standing at the extreme end of the immense ballroom), and played some
of his charming _entraînante_ music. But though he played as loudly as
possible, it was difficult to distinguish what sort of music it was, the
ballroom being so enormous. However it did not make much difference as
there were only a few who wanted to dance and one could see that they were
urged to do so by the chamberlains. Waldteufel has an apartment in the
town of Compiègne, where he fabricates his waltzes by day and comes here
to play them by night.
At ten o'clock their Majesties went into the Emperor's private salon with
a selected few; then the dancing become general and livelier. Tea and
cakes were served at eleven o'clock and their Majesties reentered,
conversed a few moments, bowed to every one and withdrew, turned round on
reaching the door, and, with a sweeping inclination of the head,
We bade good night to our friends about us and withdrew, as did every one
else, and I, for one, was glad to go to my Royal couch. Good night!
SUNDAY, _November 23, 1866._
DEAR M.,--When we came down this morning into the salon we found it almost
deserted, and only realized the reason why when we saw the Empress and
other ladies holding their prayer-books devoutly in their hands returning
from mass, which is celebrated in the chapel of the château. They wore
black-lace veils in place of hats, the Empress wearing hers draped in true
Spanish fashion, which was infinitely becoming to her, being, as she is,
"to the _manner_ born."
We remembered _then_ that it was Sunday, and felt subdued, seeing so
many who were more pious than we were. In fact, I felt so much so that I
think it would have been impossible for me to have laughed during the
_déjeuner_. Perhaps it was fortunate I sat next to the Duke de Fernan
Nuñez, whose sedate and polished manners suited the occasion perfectly. He
did not encourage any attempt at gaiety. Oh dear, no! Far from it! I felt
myself gradually freezing, and our conversation was of the most
uninteresting character and dry almost to parching.
I began talking to him about Spain. I said I thought it must be such a
lovely country, so full of romance, sentiment, and so forth. But he nipped
my enthusiasm in the bud by informing me that he was not Spanish.
"I thought you were," I murmured.
"No; I am Italian." This staggered me a little. He was certainly the
husband of the Duchess de Fernan Nuñez, who was Spanish; why had he not
the same name?
He told me that he was "Dei Principi Pio-Trivulzio," one of the oldest
families in Milan, and that when he married his wife (who is a _Grande
d'Espagne_) he was obliged, according to the traditions of Spain, to
take her name and give up his own.
The _déjeuner_ finished, we returned to the salon, and after their
Majesties had talked a little with their guests the programme for the
afternoon, which was to be an excursion to Pierrefonds, was offered to
those who wished to go. We hurried to our rooms to put on our hats, coats,
and furs, reappearing equipped for the fray.
The _chars-à-bancs_ and the carriages of their Majesties were drawn up on
the garden side of the terrace. The Emperor took Prince Metternich in his
dog-cart; the Empress drove herself in her English phaëton, accompanied by
the Duchess de Fernan Nuñez. The rest of us were provided with big _chars-
à-bancs_, each holding six or eight people, and had four horses ridden by
two postilions. In the same carriage with me was the Duchess de Persigny,
Count Golz, and others; and although it was very cold, we did not mind, as
we were well wrapped in furs and had plenty of rugs. We enjoyed intensely
the beautiful drive through the forest of Compiègne. Monsieur Davilliers
told me that the forest contains about fifteen thousand hectares. I should
think so, judging from the endless roads and cross-roads, the interminable
avenues and wonderful vistas. There were sign-posts at every turn; those
painted red pointed toward Compiègne.
It took us a long time to reach the forest at Pierrefonds, which joins
that of Compiègne. By an abrupt turn of the road we came suddenly in view
of the enormous castle of Pierrefonds and the little town, which is known
for its sulphur baths, and only frequented in summer. No one need inform
you what kind of baths they are, as their fumes pervade space and inform
[Illustration: CHÂTEAU DE PIERREFONDS]
The imposing castle looks entirely out of place in its surroundings; the
little hill on which it stands seems as if it had been put there in order
to accommodate the castle.
We passed over two bridges and over a _pont-levis_ at the foot of the
castle; then through a second gateway into a court, and finally over a
drawbridge to reach the entrance.
There we got out of the carriages, passed through a dark, vaulted chapel
and mounted to the platform, where we had a splendid view of the town and
Viollet-le-Duc, who was with us, is the pet architect of the Emperor; he
is working hard to restore these magnificent ruins, and has now been ten
years about it, but says that they will never be finished in his lifetime.
The Emperor is very proud of showing them as the work of his favorite
architect, and Viollet-le-Duc is just as proud of having been chosen for
this stupendous undertaking.
We were spared no details, you may be sure, from the smallest of gargoyles
to the biggest of chimneys. There is a huge fireplace which reaches to the
ceiling in the _salle des gardes_, with funny little squirrels peering at
you with cunning eyes. I wish it had occurred to the great architect to
have utilized this fireplace, for he could very well have put a few logs
in it and prevented us poor visitors from freezing to death.
We walked (it must have been miles), examining everything in detail. We
mounted two hundred steps to see the view, and then descended three
hundred steps to see the arched cellars. The castle was first bought one
hundred years ago as a ruin by some one, who only paid eight thousand
francs for it; then Napoleon I. bought it, and now Napoleon III. is
restoring it. It is seven thousand meters square. It has eight big towers,
etc. I could go on forever, I am so brimful of statistics, but I spare
While the hampers brought from Compiègne were being unpacked we tried to
rest our weary limbs in some prehistoric chairs, whose carvings pierced
our bones to the marrow. I suppose this is what they call _payer de sa
personne_. I consoled myself, while drinking my tea and eating my cake,
with the thought that my _personne_ was paying its little private tax
After this interesting but fatiguing visit, and after the long drive
through the cold, misty forest, the dead and dry leaves rustling under the
horses' feet as they galloped along, I was glad to rest a moment by my
cozy fire before dressing for dinner.
I was a little dismayed when I was told that the famous poet, Théophile
Gautier, was to be my dinner companion. I was awed at the idea of such a
neighbor, and feared I should not be able to rise to the occasion. Would
he talk poetry to me? And should I have to talk poetry to him?
I tried to remember, during our promenade down the hall, Longfellow's
"Psalm of Life," in case he should expect anything in this line, and I
tried to remember something he himself had written; but for the life of me
I could think of nothing but a very improper book called _Mademoiselle
de Maupéon_, which I had never been allowed to read, so that would be
of no use as conversation.
I might have spared myself this worry, for, from the time he sat down at
the table, he talked of little else than cats and dogs. He loves all
animals. I liked him for that, and one could see that he preferred them to
any other topic.
I can't remember all the nonsense he talked. In appearance I think he must
resemble Charles Dickens. I have only seen the latter's photographs; but
had he not rather a skimpy hair brushed any which way and a stringy beard?
I fancied him so to myself. At any rate, Gautier looks like the Dickens of
He said he had eight or ten cats who ate with him at the table; each had
its own place and plate, and never by any chance made a mistake and sat in
another cat's place or ate off another cat's plate. He was sure that they
had a heaven and a hell of their own, where they went after their death,
according to their deserts, and that they had souls and consciences. All
his cats had classical names, and he talked to them as if they were human
beings. He said they understood every word he said. He also quoted some of
his conversation with them, which must have sounded very funny:
"Cleopatra, have you been in the kitchen drinking milk on the sly?
"Cleopatra puts her tail between her legs and her ears back and looks most
guilty, and I know then what the cook told me was true."
Then again: "Julius Caesar, you were out extremely late last night. What
were you doing?" He said that when he made these reproaches Julius Caesar
would get down from his chair and, with his tail high in the air, would
rub himself against his legs, as much as to say he would never do it
"Depend upon it," he added, "they know everything we do, and more."
I asked, "When Julius Caesar comes from his nocturnal walks is he
"Gris! Que voulez-vous dire?"
"You once wrote a poem (how proud I was that I had recollected it), 'A
minuit tous les chats sont gris.'"
"C'est vrai, mais je parlais des Schahs de Perse."
"Est-ce que tous les Schahs de Perse sont gris à minuit?"
"Madame, tous les Schahs de Perse que j'ai eu l'honneur de voir à minuit
ont été gris comme des Polonais."
"But the 'chats' you wrote about go mewing on roofs at midnight. Do the
Schahs de Perse do that?"
"Did I write that?" said he. "Then I must have meant cats. You are very
"I confess I am," I answered. "You see, that poem of yours has been set to
music, and I sing it; and you may imagine that I want to know what I am
singing about. One must sing with an entirely different expression if one
sings of gray cats or of tipsy Persian sovereigns."
He laughed and asked, with an innocent look, "Do you think I could have
meant that at midnight nothing has any particular color--that everything
"I don't know what you meant; but please tell me what you want me to
believe, because I believe everything I am told. I am so naïve."
"You naïve! You are the most _blasée_ person I ever met."
"I _blasée_! I! What an idea!"
Such an idea could only emanate from a poet's brain with an extra-poetical
poet's license. I was very indignant, and told him so, and said, "Est-ce
que tous les poètes sont fous à cette heure de la soirée?"
"Vous voyez," he retorted, "you are not only _blasée_; you are sarcastic."
I enjoyed my dinner immensely in spite of being _blasée_, and Gautier's
fun and amusing talk lasted until we were back in the salon. The Emperor
approached us while we were still laughing, and began to talk to us. I
told him that Monsieur Gautier had said that I was _blasée_. The Emperor
exclaimed: "Vous blasée! Il faut y mettre beaucoup de bonne volonté pour
être blasée à votre âge!"
I said I did not know whether to be angry or not with him.
"Be angry with him," answered the Emperor. "He deserves it."
Waldteufel began playing his delightful waltzes, and every one was boon
whirling about. I never heard him play with so much dash; he really seemed
inspired. Prince Metternich asked him to order a piano to be sent to his
salon in the chateau. "I cannot exist without a piano," said he. "It helps
me to write my tiresome _rapports_."
There were only two pianos, I believe, in the château; the one (upright)
in the ballroom and the Erard in the _salle de musique_.
At eleven o'clock we went into the Emperor's salon, where tea was served.
MONDAY, _November 24, 1866._
DEAR M.,--At breakfast this morning I sat next to Prince Metternich. He
told me that there was to be _conseil de ministres_ to-day, and therefore
there was no question of their Majesties' presence at excursions, and no
particular plans projected for this afternoon.
Thus we were left to our own devices. Prince Metternich's fertile brain
was already at work to imagine something amusing to divert their Majesties
for the evening. He suggested charades. He is excellent at getting them
When we met in the salon he spoke to the different people who he thought
would be helping elements.
The Marquise de Gallifet thought that tableaux would be better; Count de
Vogüé suggested games (he knew several new ones, which he proposed). All
in vain! Prince Metternich insisted on charades; therefore charades
carried the day, of course.
The Prince had already thought of the word "Exposition," and arranged in
his mind what part each one of us was to have. The Vicomte de Laferrière,
whom he was obliged to take into his confidence, told him that he would
show us the room in which there was a stage for amateur performances.
As soon as their Majesties had departed we proceeded to the said room,
where there was a little stage, a very little one, with red-velvet
curtains. Next to this room was a long gallery, in which there was a
quantity of chests containing every variety of costumes, wigs, pastiches,
tinsel ornaments, and all sorts of appurtenances--enough to satisfy the
most dramatic imagination.
Each garment, as it was held up to view, suggested endless possibilities;
but the Prince stuck firmly to his first inspiration, and we were
despatched to our different apartments to think out our rôles and to
imagine how funny we were going to be.
The Empress is always present at the _conseils de ministres_, which
to-day must have lasted an unusually long time, as no one was invited to
her tea. So we took ours with the Metternichs. The Prince had just
returned from town, and was childishly eager to display the various and
extraordinary purchases he had made, which he considered absolutely
necessary for the finishing touches to our toilettes. His requisites
consisted of an oil-can, a feather duster, a watchman's rattle, and wax
enough to have made features for the whole Comédie Française, and paint
and powder for us all. He would not tell us what he had procured for his
_own_ costume, as he said he wanted to surprise us, adding, what he
could not buy he had borrowed.
Count Vogüé gave me his arm for dinner. Of course, we talked of little
else but the charade.
Their Majesties were informed of the surprise which was awaiting them in
the little theater. The Empress said to Prince Metternich, after dinner,
"I hear you have prepared something to amuse us this evening. Do you not
wish to go and make your arrangements? We will be ready to join you in
half an hour."
All of us who were to take part disappeared to dress, and returned to the
gallery connecting with the stage in due time. Peeping through the hole in
the curtain, we could see the imposing and elegant audience come in and
take their seats with much ceremony and calmness. They little thought how
impatient we were to begin and yet trembling with nervousness. Their
Majesties, the guests, and all the ministers who had stayed for dinner
more than filled the theater. It looked, indeed, uncomfortably crowded.
At last every one was seated, and the first syllable, "Ex," was played
with great success. It represented a scene at Aix-les-Bains.
Invalids met (glasses in hand) and discussed and compared their various
and seemingly very complicated diseases. They made very funny remarks on
the subject of getting their systems in order in view of the possible
incidents which might come up during the Exposition of the next year.
The Marquis de Gallifet was one of the invalids, and seeing the Minister
of the Interior in the audience, looked straight at him and said, "C'est à
vous, Monsieur le Ministre, de remédier à tout cela (It is your business,
Monsieur le Ministre, to cure all that)," which made every one roar with
laughter, though Prince Metternich (our impresario) was very provoked, as
he had particularly forbidden any one to address the audience.
The Princess Metternich looked very comical dressed as a Parisian
coachman, with a coachman's long coat of many capes; she wore top-boots,
and had a whip in her hand and a pipe in her mouth, which she actually
smoked, taking it out of her mouth every time she spoke and puffing the
smoke right into the faces of the audience. She sang a very lively song,
the words of which her husband had found time to write for her during the
afternoon. It began, "C'est à Paris, qu' ça s'est passé." She cracked her
whip and stamped her feet, and must have been very droll, to judge from
the screams of delight in the audience. The song was full of quips and
puns, and pleased so much that she had to repeat it.
The next word was "Position," and acted only by gentlemen. An amateur, or
rather a novice, was taking lessons in fencing, in order to defend himself
against probable attacks upon him by the barbaric foreigners who next year
would invade Paris, and he wished to be prepared sufficiently to resent
all their insults.
When the curtain came down all the sky came with it, which put the public
in great glee.
The whole word "Exposition" was what we call "Mrs. Jarley's Wax Works."
Count de Vogüé was the showman, and the servant assisting him was no less
a person than the Austrian Ambassador himself, Prince Metternich. As the
stage was small, it could not contain more than two couples at a time, so
they were brought on in pairs.
First came Antony, and Cleopatra (the latter Marquise de Gallifet,
beautiful as a dream) drank mechanically (having been wound up by the
servant) an enormous pearl, and Antony (Prince Murat) looked on
wonderingly and admiringly.
Madame de Bourgogne and Count Grammont were a Chinese chop-sticking
couple. When wound up, their chop-sticks went everywhere except into their
mouths. The Marquise de Chasselouplobat and the Marquis de Caux were
shepherd and shepherdess, with the usual rakes, baskets, ribbons, etc.
I was a mechanical doll sent from America (the latest invention) for the
Exposition. I was dressed as a Tyrolienne with a red skirt, a black
bodice, and a hat with a ridiculous feather sticking out from the back of
it, which Prince Metternich said I _must_ have.
While the others were on the stage Princess Metternich wrapped a lot of
silk paper around me and tied it with bows of wide ribbon, thus covering
me completely, head and all. I was carried in and placed on a turning
The showman explained the wonderful mechanism of this doll, unique of its
kind, and capable of imitating the human voice to such a degree that no
one could hear any difference.
When he had finished talking (I thought, as I stood there, motionless and
stifling under my paper covering, he never would stop) he tore off the
paper and called his assistant to wind me up.
I had so far been very successful in keeping my countenance; but I assure
you, when I saw Prince Metternich's get-up, my efforts to keep myself from
bursting out laughing almost amounted to genius. He had said he wished his
costume to be a surprise. Well! The surprise almost made the mechanical
doll a failure, and had not Count de Vogüé quickly turned the pedestal
around I don't know how I should have saved myself from disaster.
Prince Metternich was dressed as a servant. He had a velvetine coat, red
vest, knickerbockers, white stockings, and servant's low shoes, and he
wore a huge black beard and a black wig. He had made his eyebrows so bushy
that they looked like mustaches; but his nose had preoccupied him more
than anything else--I don't know much time he had spent in making it.
First, he made it hooked and then changed it to _retroussé_, then again
back to hooked, which he thought suited his style best. He commenced
it when the first scene was being acted, and had just got it at the right
angle when it was time for him to go on the stage. The result of his
afternoon's labors must have been most gratifying, for he was a stupendous
He wound me up and I began singing; but everything went wrong. I sang
snatches of well-known songs, cadences, trills, arpeggios, all _pêle-
mêle_, until my exhibitors were in despair.
"Mais, c'est terrible," cried Vogüé. "Ne pouvez-vous pas l'arrêter? Est-ce
qu'il n'y a pas de vis?"
"Il n'y a pas le moindre vice, Monsieur," shaking his head in despair.
Then I stopped short. How could I sing when I was convulsed with laughter?
"Il faut la remonter," the showman said, with a resigned air, and, turning
to the audience, he announced that such a thing had never happened before.
"La poupée a été probablement dérangée pendant le voyage." This caused
much merriment. "Elle a besoin de l'huile," said the Prince in a loud
stage whisper, and took the oil-can and flourished it about my shoulders.
They made so many jokes and puns that they were continually interrupted by
the peals of laughter which followed each joke.
"Faites-la donc chanter," implored Vogüé. "N'y a-t-il pas un clou?"
"S'il y en avait eu un, je l'aurais trouvé, puisque c'est le clou de la
"Mon Dieu! Que faire? Et tout le monde qui attend. Cherchez bien. Vous
trouverez peut-être un bouton."
The Prince answered, sadly, "Not a sign of a button, Monsieur." And he
added, in a loud voice, "We ought to have a button in _gold_, so that
one can see it."
He said this with intention, thinking it might suggest to the Emperor to
give me the gold button which he only gives to those he wishes to make
life-members of his Hunts. Ladies do not often get them. At last, the
mortified assistant applied the rattle and wound me up again. I gave a
little nod with my head; they both struck attitudes of satisfaction, and
one said, "Now she is going to sing 'Beware!'" which called forth a burst
of applause from the audience. I sang "Beware!" and the Prince, thinking I
made the trill too long, tried to stop me by using the rattle again, which
was almost the death of me. I wore some long ribbons around my neck, and
the more the Prince turned it, the tighter the ribbons choked me. Happily
I had breath enough to go on singing; but I turned my head and fixed a
glassy eye on my tormentor, and, instead of singing "Trust her not, she's
fooling thee," I sang, "Trust him not, he's choking me, he's choking me."
Luckily he understood, and the people who knew English understood and
appreciated the situation.
When it was all finished the Empress came hurriedly toward me, exclaiming:
"Thank Heaven! I thought the Prince was going to strangle you. I was so
frightened." She then kissed me on both cheeks, and the Emperor gallantly
kissed my hand.
They both said they had never laughed so much in their lives, and were
most profuse in their thanks, complimenting all those who had taken part
in the charade; certainly Robert de Vogüé and the Prince Metternich both
It was one o'clock when tea was served in the Emperor's salon. You may
imagine if I was tired.
DEAR M.,--As the programme announced this morning that there was to be a
_chasse à tir_ this afternoon, I put on my green costume brought for this
The Empress appeared also in a green dress, with a coquettish three-
cornered hat trimmed with gold braid, and looked bewitchingly beautiful;
the Emperor wore a shooting suit with leather gaiters, as did all the
gentlemen. Every one looked very sportsmanlike.
M. Davilliers gave me his arm for _déjeuner_. He told me a great deal
which I did not _want_ to know about hunting-dogs.
For instance, "Les chiens anglais," he said, "étaient très raillants, très
perçants, mais hésitants dans les fourrés." So much Greek to me, but I
pretended to understand. He continued to say that the Emperor had an
excellent trainer, who obtained the best results because he treated the
dogs with kindness. I inwardly applauded the trainer.
He said it was better to let them have the entire use of their faculties;
whereas, if the unhappy animals are stupefied by bad treatment they lose
their _initiative_, being pursued by the thought of a beating, and they
don't know what to do, instead of following their natural instincts.
I agreed with him entirely, and thought that our conversation was an
excellent preface to the afternoon's sport.
As the Emperor passed me, before we started off, he said, handing me a
little package he held in his hand, "Here is the gold button which you did
not have last night; it makes you a life member of all Imperial hunts."
(So Prince Metternich's ruse had succeeded.)
I bowed very low and thanked him, and asked if it would necessitate my
hunting. "Certainly not, if you don't want to," his Majesty answered; "but
have you ever seen a _chasse à tir_?"
At my answer that I had never seen one, nor anything nearer to one than
people going out with a gun and coming back with nothing else, he laughed
and said, "I must tell that to the Empress."
It is the Emperor's habit to say, when he hears anything which amuses him,
"I must tell that to her Majesty." She is always in his thoughts.
I said, looking at the button, "Last year your Majesty gave me a gold
medal for singing a _Benedictus_; now I shall sing a hallelujah for this."
"It is not worth so much," the Emperor said, with a kind smile.
"Would you like to accompany me this afternoon," he asked, "and see for
yourself what a _chasse à tir_ is?"
I answered that I should be delighted, and said, "Shall I come with a
"Oh dear, no! Please don't!" the Emperor exclaimed, hurriedly. "But come
with stout boots and a warm coat."
The carriages were waiting, and we were soon packed in our rugs and
started for the shooting.
The Emperor drove Baron Beyens in his dog-cart; the Empress drove with the
Princess Metternich in a victoria to the field, where she left her and
returned to the chateau. I fancy she was afraid of the dampness of this
bleak November day.
We arrived at a great open place and found all the company assembled, and
I should say the whole populace of Compiègne had turned into beaters and
spectators. The gentlemen took their places in a long line, the Emperor
being in the middle; on his right the person highest in rank (Prince
Metternich), on his left Count Golz, and so forth.
Madame de Gallifet and I were a little behind the Emperor, between him and
Prince Metternich. Behind us were the gamekeepers, loading and handing the
guns to their masters as fast as they could. The three first gentlemen had
their own _chasseurs_ and two guns each. After the gamekeepers came the
men whose duties were to pick up the dead and wounded victims and put them
in the bags.
It was a dreadful sight! How I hate it! I am sure I shall not sleep for a
week, for I shall always see the forms and faces of those quivering, dying
creatures in my dreams. I never will go to a _chasse_ again.
And the worst was, they had frightened the birds and animals into a sort
of circle, where they could not escape; the butchery was awful. The
victims numbered close on four thousand. Prince Metternich alone shot
How happy I was when it all was over and I could get away from these
horrors and this miserable sport! We were invited to the tea in the
Empress's salon. I had time to change my dress and put on the high silk
gown prescribed for this function.
Such beautiful rooms! First an antechamber, with cabinets of Italian
carving and vitrines and inlaid tables; then the Empress's salon, a very
large room filled with low arm-chairs, tables covered with knickknacks,
books with paper-cutters still in them, as if they were just being read,
screens with engravings _à la Louis Seize_, and beautiful fans on the
walls, also splendid tapestries. It had a lovely ceiling, painted by some
celebrated artist, mostly angels and smiling cherubs, who seemed to
possess more than their share of legs and arms, floating about in the
The Empress generally has a distinguished person, or some kind of
celebrity, either a traveler or an inventor, even a prestidigitateur (ugh,
what a word!), always some one who is _en vue_ for the moment. To-day
it was a man who had invented a machine to count the pulse. He strapped a
little band on your wrist and told you to concentrate your thought on one
subject, then a little pencil attached to the leather handcuff began
muffing up and down slowly or quickly, as your pulse indicated.
The Empress seemed much interested, and called those in the room whose
pulse she wished to have tested. She said, "Now let us have an American
pulse." My pulse seemed to be very normal, and the exhibitor did not make
any comments, neither did any one else.
"Shall we now have a Germanic pulse?" the Empress risked, and called Comte
Solms. "Think of something pleasant," said the inventor. "A ballet is a
nice thing to think of," said the Princess Metternich, in her shrill
"Regarde, comme il va vite," the inventor cried, and he showed the paper
with the most extraordinary wavy lines. Every one laughed, and no one more
than Comte Solms himself.
Six o'clock came very quickly, and the Empress, rising, gave the signal
for our departure.
The Marquis de Caux took me in to dinner. He is the most popular and
sought-after gentleman in all Paris. No ball is complete without him, and
his presence at any dinner is sufficient to assure its success. He leads
all the cotillons worth speaking of, and is a universal favorite. He
allowed his secret to leak out (_un secret de Polichinelle_), which all
Paris is talking about.
I swore secrecy; but I can tell you that it can be contained in one word,
and that word is SIMPATICO, which is Italian for his rendezvous with HER
at the American Doctor Sim's house, for it is there he meets her. _Devine
qui peut!_ (Guess who can!) I have not said anything.
At nine o'clock we all adjourned to the theater in the Palace, to reach
which we passed through many rooms we had never seen before, and through a
long gallery. The theater is very handsome, and as large as most of the
theaters in Paris. There is always one theatrical performance during each
week while their Majesties are in Compiègne. The company of the Théâtre
Français had been commanded to play this evening. The piece chosen was the
latest one of Émile Augier, which has had a great success in Paris, called
"Le fils Giboyer." Émile Augier, who was invited specially, was present.
Madeleine Brohan, Coquelin, Breton, and Madame Favard had the principal
rôles. Such distinguished artistes as those could not but give the
greatest enjoyment. The theater is very handsome; there are only boxes and
the parquet; the Imperial Loge reaches from the first tier of boxes to the
last seats of the parquet in the shape of a shell. Any one standing up
there could touch, on raising the arm, the velvet draperies of the
The theater is entirely lighted by wax candles, of which there must have
been thousands, and all the scenery belonging to the play was sent
especially from Paris.
Their Majesties sat in the center of the Imperial Loge, and the lady
guests and the most important gentlemen, according to their rank, were
placed beside and behind them.
The other gentlemen sat in the parquet, and circulated about between the
In the boxes were places for the Court ladies, also the ladies invited
from the neighboring château and from Compiègne.
The whole assemblage certainly presented the most dazzling and magnificent
sight. The ladies in their beautiful toilettes and superb jewels showed to
the greatest advantage in this brilliantly lighted theater. The Empress
was gorgeous in yellow tulle covered with lace and jewels. She wore the
famous Regent diamond, which belongs to the French Crown, in her corsage,
and a superb diamond tiara and necklace. Princess Metternich, who is known
to be the best dressed lady in Paris, had a black tulle dress embroidered
in gold; she wore a tiara of diamonds and emeralds and a necklace of the
When their Majesties entered every one rose and courtesied deeply; their
Majesties bowed graciously in response. The Master of Ceremonies gave the
signal, and the curtain rose immediately.
The actors seemed inspired to do their best, as well they might, with such
a brilliant audience before them.
I wondered if they did not miss the _claque_, to which actors are so
accustomed in France. You know the _claque_ is a set of men who are hired
to clap at certain points in the play indicated beforehand to them, in
order that the audience may appreciate the most salient points and join
the applause, if they wish to.
Every one enjoyed the play immensely. There were portions of it which were
very pathetic. I noticed the Emperor was visibly affected, and the Empress
wiped from her eyes _una furtiva lagrima_, as Donizetti's song has it.
I know _I_ cried my lace handkerchief wet.
The representation lasted till about half-past ten, and after our return
to the salon the Emperor sent for the artists, who had by this time
changed their toilettes. Their Majesties talked long, and, I should say,
familiarly with them, and, judging from the way they laughed and chatted,
they seemed to feel quite at their ease, especially Coquelin, who
apparently put the Emperor in a very good humor. At eleven o'clock
refreshments were passed round, the carriages were announced, and making a
deferential "reverence" the artists took their leave, carrying with them
an ornament with the monograms of their Majesties as a souvenir of their
I never saw the Empress look so beautiful as she did to-night. She
certainly is the most exquisite creature, and what is so charming about
her is her utter lack of self-consciousness. Her smile is bewitching
beyond description, her complexion perfect, her hair of the Venetian type,
and her profile classical. Her head is so beautifully put on her
shoulders, her neck and shoulders are absolutely faultless. None of the
many portraits painted of her, not even Winterhalter's, do her the least
justice; no brush can paint and no words can describe her charm. I think
the famous beauty, Countess Castiglione, cannot begin to compare with her.
Their Majesties withdrew. The guests from the château and those from
Compiègne took their departure, and we all dispersed to our several
I am beginning to learn the ways of the life of Compiègne.
At nine o'clock our tea, coffee, or chocolate (as we choose) is brought to
our rooms by a white-stockinged and powdered valet.
If you are very energetic, you can go for a walk in the park, or (as I did
to my sorrow) a visit to the town. But you are not energetic more than
once, because you do not find it worth your while, as you must hurry back,
and change your dress and shoes before appearing in the salon a little
before eleven o'clock, the hour for breakfast. You remain in the same
dress until you change for dinner or the Empress's tea. You find every
morning in your room a programme for the day.
_Déjeuner à onze heures.
Chasse à tir à deux heures.
Comédie Française à neuf heures._
So you know what to wear and what to expect; but the invitation to tea is
always made by the Empress's private _huissier_, who knocks at your door
toward five o'clock and announces, "Her Majesty the Empress desires your
presence at five o'clock."
The _toilette de rigueur_ for this occasion is a high-necked long silk
dress, and you generally remain until six o'clock.
If you are not summoned to her Majesty's tea, tea is served in your own
salon, where you can invite people to take tea with you, or you are
invited to take tea with other people.
If there is a hunt, the ladies wear their green-cloth costumes and the
gentlemen wear their hunting gear (a red coat, velvet cap, and top-boots).
The gentlemen wear _culottes courtes_ the first evening they arrive, and
on such fine occasions as the _curée_, and at the Gala Theater, where
outsiders are invited; otherwise they always wear _pantalon collant_,
which is the most unbecoming thing one can imagine in the way of manly
At six o'clock you dress for dinner, always in ball dress, and a little
before seven you meet in the Grande Salle des Fêtes. At dinner the guests
are placed according to their rank, but at _déjeuner_ there is no
ceremony, and you engage your partner after your heart's desire. Those who
are high up at dinner try to get as far down at the end of the table as
With me it is all ups and downs; at breakfast I am 'way up to the very
top, and at dinner 'way down.
After _déjeuner_ the Master of Ceremonies inquires what you wish to do;
that is to say, if there is nothing special mentioned on the programme,
such as a review, or manoeuvers, or a _chasse à courre_, when all are
expected to join.
Do you wish to walk? You can tramp up and down the one-thousand-metre-long
trellis walk, sheltered from wind and rain.
Do you wish to drive? There are carriages of all descriptions, _chars-à-
bancs_, landaus, pony-carriages, and even a donkey-cart, at your service.
Do you care to ride? There are one hundred and fifty horses eating their
heads off in the Imperial stables waiting for you.
Do the gentlemen wish to go shooting? There are countless gamekeepers
booted and spurred, with guns and game-bags on their shoulders, impatient
to accompany you.
Whatever you do, you are expected to be in your rooms before four o'clock,
which is the time the Empress will send for you, if she invites you for
The _cercle_ always follows each repast, and dancing or music always
follows the _cercle_. Tea is served at the Emperor's salon at eleven
o'clock, after which their Majesties retire, and you do the same.
DEAR M.,--A very embarrassing thing happened to me this morning.
We thought we could manage an excursion to the town. I wanted to see the
Cathedral, and it did not seem far away.
Therefore, bright and early, at nine o'clock we started on our trip.
We saw the Cathedral; but I had not counted on the time necessary for the
change of toilette, which I had to make before _déjeuner_.
I found on my table an envelope containing this poetry, which I inclose,
from Théophile Gautier. I suppose he considered it as a sort of _amende
À MADAME CHARLES MOULTON
Vos prunelles ont bu la lumière et la vie;
telle une mer sans fond boit l'infini des cieux,
car rien ne peut remplir l'abîme de vos yeux,
où, comme en un lotus, dort votre âme assouvie.
Pour vous plus de chimère ardemment poursuivie,
quel que soit l'idéal, votre rêve vaut mieux,
et vous avez surtout le biasement des Dieux,
Psyché, qu'Éros lui-même à grand'peine eût ravi.
Votre satiété n'attend pas le banquet,
et connaissant la coupe où le monde s'enivre,
dédaigneuse à vos pieds vous le regardez vivre.
Et vous apparaissez par un geste coquet,
rappelant Mnémosyné à son socle appuyée
comme le souvenir d'une sphère oublié.
Charles had gone long before, and I became absorbed in reading it, and
forgot to look at the clock, when suddenly, seeing how late it was, I
rushed down into the gallery, and what was my horror at finding myself
alone with the _Cent Gardes_, who were standing at ease! It was the
first time I had ever seen them look like mortal beings, and not like
statues, and it signified, naturally, that every one was in the _salle à
manger_, and that I was too late. However, I thought I could slip into
the room unnoticed, and a place at the table would be offered to me; but,
alas! it happened that just this morning the Emperor had desired me to sit
next to him at the table, and the valet de chambre had been and was still,
waiting for me at the door to conduct me to my place on the sovereign's