Part 6 out of 7
garden in time of war. Louis expends the same energy and water that he
used in washing his carriages, much to the detriment of the once fine
The days are very monotonous. I never imagined a day could have so many
hours. I, who have always been over-busy, and have never found the days
long enough to do all I wanted to do, pass the most forlorn hours
listening and waiting and wondering what will happen next. I wait and wait
all through the sleepless nights. I am so nervous I cannot sleep. I do not
even take off my clothes.
I have my writing-table put in the ball-room, and here I sit and write
these sad letters to you. I play the piano; but I have not the heart to
sing, as you may imagine.
We know that there are many tragedies going on about us, and we hear,
through Louis, awful things; but we only believe the half of what he tells
The Minister of Finance has spent in a month twenty-six millions for the
war expenses alone.
My two friends, Pascal Grousset and (Rascal) Rigault, spent for their
_menus plaisirs_ nearly half a million, whereas Jourde, who is Minister of
Finance, and could take all the money he liked from the banks, lives in
the same modest apartment, and his wife still continues to take in washing
as of old, showing that he, at least, is honest among thieves.
Grousset's appeal to the large cities of France is very theatrical. He
reproaches them with their lukewarmness and their platonic sympathy, and
calls them _aux armes_, as in the "Marseillaise."
We had a very sad experience yesterday. At seven o'clock the _concierge_
was awakened from his slumbers, which (if one can judge from the repeated
efforts at his bell of persons who come before breakfast) must be of the
sweetest and most profound nature.
On cautiously peeping out, he saw a poor fellow leaning against the gate
in a seemingly exhausted condition; he had been wounded, and begged to be
allowed to come inside our courtyard. The _concierge_, who thinks it
wise to be prudent, consulted with Louis; but neither dared do anything
until Mr. Moulton had given the necessary orders. Louis ran about to wake
up the family, and Mr. Moulton told the porter to take the man directly to
the stables and to go for a doctor. The wounded man begged to see a
priest, and Louis was despatched to bring one. Securing a doctor seemed to
be a great undertaking. The _concierge_ had had cramps in the night
(so he said), which would necessitate his remaining at home, and made so
many excuses that Mr. Moulton lost patience and declared he would go
himself; but this I would not hear of his doing alone, and insisted upon
going with him. Mademoiselle, issuing from her room, appeared in her lilac
dressing-gown, holding a pocket-handkerchief in one hand and a smelling-
bottle to her nose with the other. She was told to keep watch over the
invalid while we were absent. Mr. Moulton and I walked to the Faubourg St.
Honoré, to our apothecary, who gave us the name of the nearest doctor. It
was not pleasant, to say the least, to be in the streets. We were in the
habit of hearing bombs and shells, so that was no novelty; but to see them
whizzing over our heads was a new sensation, and not an agreeable one. We
found a doctor, a most amiable gentleman, who, although he had been up all
night, was quite ready to follow us, and we hurried back to the Rue de
Courcelles, where we found Mademoiselle seated on a water-pail outside the
stables and looking the picture of woe. Her idea of keeping vigil!
The doctor made a hasty examination, and was preparing the bandages when
Louis arrived with the priest. I left them and went into the house to make
some tea, which I thought might be needed; but my father-in-law came in
and said that the man had gone to sleep.
Later, about two o'clock, Louis told us that all was over; the poor fellow
had received the last sacraments, had turned over on his side, and had
breathed his last. We sent for the ambulance; but it was five o'clock
before they took him away.
It made us very sad all day to think that death had entered our gates.
_15th May._--Thiers's house in the Rue St. Georges was pillaged to-day by
the mob, who howled like madmen and hurled all sorts of curses and
maledictions on luckless Thiers, who has done nothing wrong, and certainly
tried to do good.
Auber, who lives in the same street, must have seen and heard all that was
going on. How he must have suffered!
[Illustration: PLACE VENDÔME AFTER THE FALL OF THE COLUMN]
_16th May._--The Column Vendôme fell to-day; they have been working
some days to undermine it at the base of the socle. Every one thought it
would make a tremendous crash, but it did not; it fell just where they
intended it to fall, toward the Rue de la Paix, on some fagots placed to
receive it. They were a long time pulling at it; three or four pulleys,
and as many ropes, and twenty men tugging with all their might--_et
voilà_. The figure that replaced the Little Corporal (which is safe
somewhere in Neuilly) came to earth in a cloud of dust, and the famous
column lay broken in three huge pieces.
I inclose a ticket which Mr. Lemaire obtained somehow, and which, as you
see, permitted him to circulate _librement_ in the Place Vendôme:
I think it is strange that Auber does not let us hear from him. I fear his
heart is broken, like the column.
The weather is heavenly. The two chestnut-trees in our front courtyard are
in full flower; the few plants in the greenhouse are all putting out buds.
Where shall we be when the buds become flowers?
Last year at this time it was the height of the giddiest of giddy seasons.
One can hardly believe it is the same Paris.
My father-in-law feels very bad that I did not leave when I still had the
chance. So do I,... but now it is too late. I must stay till the bitter
end, and no doubt the end will be bitter: battle, murder, and sudden
death, and all the things we pray against in the Litany.
Dombrowski has failed in his sortie to St. Cloud.
_18th May._--It seems that the Communards wish all France to adopt their
gentle methods, and they believe and hope that Communism will reign
supreme over the country.
Rigault, to prove what an admirable government France has, yesterday
issued the decree to arrest a mass of people. No one knows exactly why,
except that he wishes to show how great his power is. He wants the Commune
to finish in fire and flame as a funeral pile. I hope he will be on the
top of it, like Sardanapalus, and suffer the most. Horrible man!
I received a letter from Mr. Mallet this morning, inclosing an invitation
to assist at a concert given by all the _musiques militaires à Paris_
on the Place de la Concorde, and offering a ticket for two places on the
terrace of the Tuileries. The idea of these creatures on the brink of
annihilation, death, and destruction giving a concert! If it were not so
tragic it would really be laughable.
DEAR LADY,--I wish I could bring you this extraordinary document _de
viva persona_; but I do not like to leave the embassy, even for a
short time. Lascelles and I are well, but very anxious. You will
notice that this invitation is for the 21st. Our friends evidently
think we will be pleasantly attuned to music on that day. They are as
mad as March hares; they will be asking us to dance at Mazas next....
Hoping you are not as depressed as we are, Yours, E. MALLET.
Just as I had finished reading the above we heard a tremendous explosion.
Louis said it was _l'École Militaire_, which was to be blown up to-day.
What are we coming to?
Louis and I ventured to go up to the third story, and we put our heads out
of one of the small windows. We saw the bombs flying over our heads like
sea-gulls. All the sky was dimmed with black smoke, but we could not see
if anything was burning, though we hear that the Tuileries is on fire and
all the public buildings are being set fire to.
An organized mob of _pétroleurs_ and _pétroleuses_ receive two francs a
day for pouring petroleum about and then setting fire. How awful!
Louis assures us that they will not come near us, as their only idea is to
destroy public property. My father-in-law says the fever of destruction
may seize them, and they might pillage the fine houses and set fire to
them. He is having everything of value, like jewels, silver, and his
precious bric-à-brac, carried down to the cellar, where there is an iron
vault, and has showed us all how to open it in case of a disaster.
_May 21st._ (Sunday evening)--The Versaillais entered Paris by the Point
du Jour, led by gallant Gallifet.
_May 22d._--Rigault gave the order that all the hostages (_otages_) were
to be shot. Rigault wrote the order himself. It does not bear any of the
fantastic seals they are so fond of, and of which they have an incredible
quantity. It has been written on a paper (_une déclaration d'expédition du
chemin de fer d'Orléans_). Probably he was trying to get away. It was the
last order he gave, and the last fuse to be used to set fire to the
This proclamation, of which I give an exact copy, will give you a little
idea of what this horrible brute is capable of:
Floréal, an 79 [the way they date things in republics]. Fusillez
l'Archevêque et les otages; incendiez les Tuileries et le Palais
Royal, et repliez-vous sur la rue Germain-des-Prés.
Procureur de la Commune,
Ici tout va bien. RAOUL RIGAULT.
In the evening of the 22d the victims--forty of them--the good Darboy,
Duguerry, Bonjean, and others--were piled into a transport-wagon with only
a board placed across, where they could sit, and were taken to the place
The Archbishop seemed suffering; probably the privations he had endured
had weakened him. Bonjean said to him, "Lean on my arm, it is that of a
good friend and a Christian," and added, "La religion d'abord, la justice
ensuite." As soon as one name was called a door opened and a prisoner
passed out--the Archbishop went first; they descended the dark and narrow
steps one by one. When they were placed against the wall Bonjean said,
"Let us show them how a priest and a magistrate can die."
Rigault ordered their execution two hours after they were taken; and when
some one ventured a remonstrance he curtly replied, "Nous ne faisons pas
de la légalité, nous faisons de la révolution." Some ruffian in the mob
cried out the word "liberté," which reached Darboy's ears, and he said,
"Do not profane the word of liberty; it belongs to us alone, because we
die for it and for our faith." This sainted man was the first to be shot.
He died instantly; but President Bonjean crossed his arms and, standing
erect, stared full in the faces of his assassins with his brave eyes
fastened on theirs. This seemed to have troubled them, for of the nineteen
balls they fired not one touched his head--they fired too low--but all his
bones were broken. The defiant look stayed on his face until the _coup
de grâce_ (a bullet behind his ear) ended this brave man's life. These
details are too dreadful. I will spare you, though I know many more and
Dombrowski had a slight advantage over l'Amiraut the other day, which
puffed them all up with hope; but how foolish to think that anything can
_May 23d._--Now they have all lost their heads, and are at their wits'
end. There are thirty thousand artillery and more cannon than they know
what to do with.
Everything is in a muddle; you can imagine in what a fearful state of
anxiety we live. The only thing we ask ourselves now is, When will the
volcano begin to pour out its flames?
If the troops should come in by the Arc de Triomphe and fight their way
through Paris by the Champs-Élysées and the Boulevard there would not be
much hope for us, as we would be just between the two fires.
_May 25th._--The Arc de Triomphe and the Champ de Mars were captured
to-day, and the fighting in the streets has commenced. They are fighting
like mad in the Faubourg St. Honoré. When I open the door of the vestibule
I can hear the yelling and screaming of the rushing mob; it is dreadful,
the spluttering of the fusillades and the guns overpower all other noises.
We hope deliverance is near at hand; but who knows how long before we have
peace and quiet again?
_May 28th._--MacMahon has stormed the barricades and has entered Paris,
taking fifty thousand prisoners. Gallifet has ordered thousands to be
We are rescued from more horrors. Thank God! these days of trembling and
fear are over.
Pascal Grousset was killed on the barricades. I am thankful to say that
Raoul Rigault has also departed this world. Courbet, Regnaud, a promising
young painter, and how many shall we know of afterward, have been shot.
We hear that Auber became quite crazy and wandered out on the ramparts,
and was killed with the soldiers. He deserved a better fate, my dear old
friend! I am sure his heart was broken, and that that day we breakfasted
with him was not his first but his last _jour de bonheur_.
Seventy-two days of Communism has cost France 850,000,000 francs.
DINARD, _June 18, 1871._
DEAR MOTHER,--Our peaceful life here is a great contrast to the bombs of
poor dilapidated Paris. I have still the screams and bursting shells of
the Faubourg St. Honoré in my ears.
When I wrote of Strakosch's persisting in his idea of my singing in
concerts, I did not dream that I should be telling you that I have
succumbed to his tempting and stupendous proposition. It is true that I
have said _yes_, and _vogue la galère!_
And the most curious thing is that the whole family sitting in council
have urged me to do it.
"Why not?" said Mr. Moulton, making mental calculations. "I would, if I
were you," said Mrs. Moulton, overflowing with enthusiasm.
"I agree," said Charles, only seeing the fun of a new experience.
"But," I urged, "I doubt if I can stand on my own merits. Singing in
public as an amateur is one thing, and singing as an artist is another."
This wise saying was scorned by the council.
I have ordered some fine dresses from Worth, and if my public don't like
me they can console themselves with the thought that a look at my clothes
is worth a ticket.
Well, the fatal word has gone forth; I shall probably regret it, but it is
too late now.
Therefore, dear mother, please break the news gently to the family and the
genealogical tree, whose bark, I hope, is worse than its bite.
We leave for America in September. Strakosch goes before, "to work it up,"
NEW YORK, _October._
MY DEAR MOTHER-IN-LAW,--Don't send any more letters to the Barlows'. We
thought that it was better not to stay with them (pleasant as it was) any
longer. There was such a commotion in that quiet house, such ringing of
bells and running about. The servants were worn out attending to me and my
I don't know where to begin to tell you about this wonderful escapade of
ours. I call it my "bravura act." It is too exciting! I copy a letter just
received from Strakosch, in answer to a letter of mine, to show you what
the process of "working up" is. He writes: "You wonder at your big
audiences. The reason is very simple. In the first place, people know that
you are thought to be the best amateur singer in Paris--'La Diva du
Monde'--besides being a favorite in Parisian society, and that you have
not only a beautiful voice, but also that you have beautiful toilettes.
This is a great _attraction_. In the second place, I allow (_as a great
privilege_) the tickets to be subscribed for; the remaining ones are
bought at auction. You see, in this way the bids go _'way up_.... I am
glad I secured Sarasate to supplement," etc.
We have taken a suite of rooms in the Clarendon Hotel, so as to be near
the opera-house, where I go to practise with the orchestra. You cannot
imagine how intense the whole thing is.
To feel that I can hold a great audience, like the one that greeted me the
first night, in my hand, and to know that I can make them laugh or cry
whenever I please--to see the mass of upturned faces--is an inspiring
sensation. The applause bewildered me at first, and I was fearfully
excited; but one gets used to all things in the end. My songs, "Bel
raggio" (Rossini), "Voi che sapete" (Mozart), and "La Valse de Pardon de
Ploërmel" (Meyerbeer), were all encored and re-encored.
I said to Strakosch, "I can't go on forever, tripping on and off the stage
like that!" He answered, laconically, "Well, you see people have paid
much for their tickets, and they want their money's worth."
I said, "I wish the tickets cost less."
The flowers (you should have seen them!) were mostly what they call here
"floral tributes" (what you would call _des pièces montées_), and were
brought in by a procession of ushers and placed on the stage. I do not
mention the quantities of bouquets handed up to me!
One "floral tribute" received an ovation as it was borne up the aisle by
four men, and hauled up on to the stage by a man who came from the side
scenes. It was a harp made entirely of flowers, about six feet high. It
made quite a screen for me as I went in and out. The card of the harp was
brought to me, and I read, "H. P. Stalton, 'Asleep in Jesus,' North
Conway." I had no idea what it meant, but mama remembered that some years
ago, when she and I were traveling in the White Mountains, we stopped
overnight at the little town of North Conway. At the hotel we heard that a
lady had died, and her son was terribly grieved. There was to be a funeral
service the next morning in the parlor of the inn. I asked, "Do you think
that I might sing something?" "Of course, _any_ music would be welcome,"
was the answer. So I chose the hymn, "Asleep in Jesus," which I sang when
the time came. As there was nothing but an old piano, I preferred to sing
without accompaniment. I was very much affected, and I suppose my voice
showed my emotion, because other people were equally affected. As for the
young man, he knelt on the floor and put his hands over his face and
sobbed out loud. Poor fellow, my heart bled for him!
I sang the hymn through with difficulty. The last verse I sang
_pianissimo_ and very slowly. The silence was painful; you could have
heard a pin drop. The whole scene was very emotional, and I remember
feeling that I never wanted to go through such a thing again. The young
man had not forgotten, after all these years, either the song or the
singer. Hence the beautiful harp of flowers to thank me. I should have
liked to have seen him, to thank _him_.
There is a very sad, pathetic, and patriotic song called "Tender and True"
by a composer, Alfred Pease, which I sing. Strakosch said, "You must have
in your _répertoire_ something American." This song is about a young
soldier who takes "a knot of ribbon blue" from his ladylove, and who dies
on the battle-field with the knot of ribbon on his breast. When I sing
"the flag draped over the coffin lid" the whole audience is dissolved in
tears. The women weep openly; the men hide behind their opera-glasses and
try to blow their noses noiselessly between the verses.
I always finish with "Beware!" and Charles always accompanies me, which
pleases him very much. He thinks that American audiences are very
appreciative, because they stand up and clap and the women wave their
I tell him they stand up because the next thing they are going to do is to
WORCESTER, _December, 1871._
DEAR MOTHER,--Thanks for your letter. I had hoped to have received better
news of Charles.
When he left Thursday he did not look well, but I thought it was owing to
the excitement and late hours and the irregular life we have been leading.
He wanted to go to Cambridge, where he thought that he could take better
care of himself. I would have gone with him, but I felt that I could not
leave Strakosch and Worcester in the lurch.
If I don't receive a reassuring telegram from you, I shall start off
I was dreadfully nervous and unstrung, as you will see, when I tell you
how I blundered. I do not like singing in oratorio. Getting up and sitting
down all the time, holding and singing from a book, losing my place and
having to find it in a hurry, is not what I like. However, I got on very
well at first, but there is a place in the score where three angels come
forward and sing a trio without accompaniment. Then the soprano (me) steps
in front and sings, without a helping note: "Hail, Hail, O Lord God of
Hosts!" The orchestra and chorus take up the same phrase after me.
I sang boldly enough, "Hail, Hail, O Lord God of Hosts!" but suddenly felt
cold shivers down my back when Zerrahn tapped his baton on his stand,
thereby stopping all further proceedings, and turning to me said, in a low
whisper, "A half-tone lower."
Good gracious, how could I find the right note! First I had to remember
the last tone I had sung, then I had to transpose it in my head, all in an
instant. It was a critical moment.
Suppose I did not hit the right note! The whole orchestra and the two-
hundred-man-strong chorus would come thundering after me--the _orchestra
on the right key_ and _the chorus following in my footsteps_.
I turned cold and hot, and my knees trembled under me. You may imagine
what a relief it was when I heard things going on as if nothing had
happened. _I had struck the right note!_ And I finished the oratorio
without further disaster. I do not think that any one in the audience
remarked anything wrong.
I said to Zerrahn, after: "Could you not have helped me? Could you not
have given me the note?"
"No," he answered. "Impossible! I could not ask the nearest violinist to
play the note, and I could not trust myself to find it. I was as nervous
as you were."
[Mrs. Moulton was called to Cambridge the next day. Mr. Moulton had died
CUBA, HAVANA, _January, 1873._
DEAR MAMA,--We left New York in a fearful blizzard. It was snowing,
hailing, blowing, and sleeting; in fact, everything that the elements
could do they did on that particular day. We were muffled up to our ears
in sealskin coats, furs, boas, and so forth, and were piloted over the wet
and slippery deck to our stateroom on the upper deck, which we wished had
been on the under deck, as it was continually washed by the "wild waves."
We knew pretty well "what the wild waves were saying"; at least Laura did,
and they kept on saying it until well into the next day.
I being an old sailor (not in years but in experience), as I had crossed
the Atlantic several times, felt very superior on this occasion, and
looked down without sympathy on the maiden efforts of my suffering sister;
and, having dressed, goaded her almost to distraction to get up and do
likewise, which she obstinately refused to do.
After ordering breakfast I ventured out on deck, to find myself alone,
among deserted camp-stools. I realized then that the others preferred
"rocking in the cradle of the deep" in their berths and in the privacy of
their cabins. I myself felt very shaky as I stumbled about on the deck
holding on to the rails, and I, hurrying back to the haven of my
stateroom, happened to meet the struggling steward endeavoring to balance
the tray containing the breakfast I had ordered, and to make his way
through my door.
The steward, the tray, and I all collided. The result was disastrous: the
food made a bee-line for the ceiling, the drinkables flooded the already
wet floor and our shoes, while cups, saucers, plates, and dishes were
scattered to fragments.
All that day we and every one were dreadfully sick; but what a contrast
the next day was! A hot, tropical sun blazed down on us, the awnings were
put up, the ladies appeared in lighter costumes, the men in straw hats and
thin jackets. How odious our warm wraps and rugs seemed! And how
completely our discomforts of the day before had disappeared! Laura had
forgotten her miseries, and was already planning another sea-trip, and
eagerly scanning the menu for dinner, to which she did ample justice.
The third day was still hotter; parasols, summer dresses, and fans made
their appearance, and at four o'clock we saw Morro Castle and the
lighthouse; and we steamed (literally, for we were so hot) up the
exquisite harbor, where white Havana lay like a jewel on the breast of the
Hot! It must have been one hundred and ninety in the shade--if there had
been any; but there was none. The glare of the whiteness of the city and
the reflection on the water, the air thick with perfumes, gave us a
tropical tinge, and made us shudder to think what we should have to endure
before we could rest in the hotel, which we hoped would be cool.
Young Isnaga, who has just come from Harvard College, where I knew him,
and who was now returning to his native land to help his father on the
plantation, served us as a guide; in fact, he was our Baedeker. He told us
that all those hundreds of little boats with coverings like hen-coops
stretched over them, which swarmed like bees about our steamer, did not
contain native ruffians demanding our money or our lives, as they seemed
to be doing, but were simply peaceable citizens hoping to earn an honest
We dreaded going through the custom-house in this excessive heat; but
Isnaga recognized one of his servants, in a small boat coming toward us,
gesticulating wildly and waving a paper; this paper meant, it seemed,
authority with the officials, so we had no delay, as Isnaga took us under
his wing. I almost wished that the custom-house had confiscated my thick
clothes and the fur-lined coat; and as for the boa, it looked like a
vicious constrictor of its own name, and I wished it at the bottom of the
Isnaga took us in his boat and landed us on the tropical "Plaza," where we
found his _volante_ waiting. He insisted on our getting into this unique
vehicle, which I will describe later when I have more time.
Our one thought was to reach the hotel, which we did finally, sending the
_volante_ back to its owner by a sweeping wave of the hand in the
direction of the quay, which the black Jehu seemed to comprehend.
Fortunately the proprietor spoke what he thought was English, and we were
able to secure very good rooms overlooking the harbor. How delicious the
cool, marble-floored room appeared to us! How we luxuriated in the fresh,
cold water, the juiciest of oranges, the iced pineapples, and all the
delicious fruits they brought us, and, above all, in the balmy air and the
feeling of repose and rest! We reappeared in the thinnest of gauzes for
the repast called dinner.
Adieu, cold and ice! _Vive le soleil!_
This hotel (San Carlos) is situated right on the bay. The quay in front of
us is garnished with a row of dwarfy trees and dirty benches, these last
being decorated, in their turn, by slumbering Cubans. There were
colonnades underneath the hotel, where there were small shops, from which
the odor of garlic and tobacco, combined with the shrieks and the snapping
of the drivers' whips, reached us, as we sat above them on our balcony.
The hotel is square, with an open courtyard in the middle, and all the
rooms open on to the marble gallery which surrounds the courtyard. This
gallery is used as a general dining-room; each person eats at his own
little iron table placed before the door of his bedroom.
Our large room contains two iron beds (minus mattresses), with only a
canvas screwed on the iron sides, but covered with the finest of linen
sheets. An iron frame holds the mosquito-net in place.
Evidently a wash-stand is a thing to be ashamed of, for they are concealed
in the most ingenious way. Mine in the daytime is rather an attractive
commode; Laura's is a writing-table, which at night opens up and discloses
the wash-basin. Otherwise there is little furniture: two cane-bottomed
chairs, two bamboo tables (twins); one has a blue ribbon tied on its leg
to tell it from its brother. Two ingeniously braided mats of linen cord do
duty for the _descente de lit_. Oh yes! there is a mirror for each of
us, which in my hurry to finish my letter I forgot to mention; but they
are so small and wavy that the less we look in them the better we are
satisfied with ourselves.
We have a large balcony, which has a beautiful view of the harbor and the
opposite shore, two huge wooden so-called windows, which are not windows,
opening on to the balcony. There is a panel in the middle which you can
open if you want some fresh air. Glass is never used for windows, so that
when you shut your window you are in utter darkness. Opposite is the door
which is not a door, but a sort of a gate with lattice shutters, giving
the room the look of a bar-room. There is space above the shutters which
is open to the ceiling.
Any one in the gallery who wanted to could stand on a chair and peer over.
Everything that goes on in the gallery, every noise, every conversation,
can be clearly overheard, and if one only understood the language it might
be very interesting.
The bars and locks on our doors and windows date from the fifteenth
century, I should say, and it is with the most herculean efforts that we
manage to shut ourselves in for the night; and we only know that the day
has broken when we hear the nasal and strident Cuban voices, and the
clattering of plates on the other side of the gate. Then we work like
galley-slaves unbarring, and the blazing sun floods our room.
I don't know if bells are popular in Havana; but in this hotel we have
none. If you want a chambermaid, which you do about every half-hour, you
must open your gate and clap your hands, and if she does not come you go
on clapping until some one else comes.
For our early breakfast we begin clapping at an early hour, and finally
our coffee and a huge plate filled with the most delicious oranges, cut
and sugared, are brought to us. We tried to obtain some simple toast; but
this seemed unknown to the Cuban cuisine, and we had to content ourselves
with some national mixture called rolls.
CUBA, _January 24, 1873._
The letters of introduction which kind Admiral Polo (Spanish Minister in
Washington) gave me must be very powerful and far reaching, for we are
received as if we were Princesses of the blood. The Governor-General came
directly to put himself, his house, his family, his Generalship--in fact,
all Cuba--_á la disposición de usted_. The Captain of the Port appeared in
full gala uniform, and deposited the whole of the Spanish fleet, his
person, and the universe in general at my feet, and said, "That no stone
should be left unturned to make our stay in Havana illustrious in
What could the most admirable of Polos have written to have created such
an effect? Then came the General Lliano, a very handsome man, but who I
thought was rather stingy, as he only put the Spanish Army at my
disposition, and himself (_cela va sans dire_).
Next came Señor Herreras, dressed all in white, with the most perfect
patent-leather boots, much too tight for him, and which must have caused
him agonies while he was offering to put himself (of course), his bank,
and all his worldly possessions in my hands.
I accepted all with a benign smile, and answered that I only had America
and my fur-lined coat and boa to offer in return.
We had so many instructions given to us as to what to do and what not to
do in this perfidious climate that we were quite bewildered.
Never to go out in the sun. Result--Malaria and sudden death.
Never put your feet on the bare floors. Result--Centipedes.
Never drink the water. Result--Yellow fever.
Never eat fruit at night. Result--Typhoid fever.
If you sleep too much; if you sit in the draught; if you let the moon
shine on you. Result--Lockjaw and speedy annihilation.
These admonitions were very confusing, and we lay awake at night thinking
how we could manage to live under these circumstances.
What a delight to look at the view from our balcony! I never imagined
anything so beautiful: the distant hills are so blue, the water so
sparkling, the sun gilds the hundreds of sails in the harbor. At night the
water is brilliant with phosphorescence, and when the boats glide through
it they throw out a thousand colors; even the reflection of the stars is
multicolored. And then, pervading all, the delicious fragrance of fruit
and flowers and tropicality!
When I am not poetical, as above, I notice the oxcarts with their cruel
drivers yelling at their poor beasts and goading them with iron-pointed
sticks. When they were not striking them, they struck picturesque
attitudes themselves, leaning on their carts and smoking endless
cigarettes. The cabmen are also picturesque in their way. After their
return from a "course," tired out from whipping their forlorn horses into
the sideling trot which is all they are equal to, and after flicking their
ears until they are too lazy to continue, they hang their hats and
stockingless feet over the carriage lamps and chew sugar-cane, looking the
picture of contentment.
Cabs are cheap; twenty-five cents will take you anywhere _à la course_.
But if you go from one shop to another, or linger at a visit, fancy knows
no bounds, for there is no tariff and the coachman's imagination is apt to
be vivid; and as you can't trust anything else, you must trust to your
conversational power to get you out of the scrape.
_Volantes_ are capricious and too exotic a vehicle to trifle with;
moreover, they turn corners with difficulty, and corners in Havana are the
things you meet the most of.
The streets are narrow; so that if you wish to avoid adventures you must
be careful to give your coachman the correct address before starting off.
The porter of the hotel did this for us to-day, as our Spanish has not
reached _perfection_ yet.
All the streets are labeled _subida_, which means, "go up this street," or
_bajado_, "down this street." If, by chance, you want to go to _27 subida_
and you amble on to 29, it takes you hours to go _bajado_ and get back to
_subida_ again, going round in a _cercle vicieux_. We spent a whole
broiling afternoon buying two spools of thread, my parasol being mightier
than my tongue, as the poor coachman's back can vouch for. When everything
else failed we shouted in unison, "Hotel San Carlos," and the black
coachman grinned with delight. Seeing _bajado_ so often at different
points, Laura thought it was the sign of an assurance company; when I saw
it on the same house as Maria Jesus Street I thought it was some kind of
A _volante_, as I have said, is a unique and delightful vehicle, which one
requires to know to appreciate. There are two huge wheels behind and none
in front; the animal, secured between the shafts, supports the weight of
the carriage. The seat is very low, so that you recline, more than sit;
your feet are unpleasantly near the horse's tail; a small seat can be
pulled out between you and your companion if there is a child in the
party. A dusky postilion decked out in high top-boots, with enormous
spurs of real silver, sits astride the horse between the shafts, and a
huge sombrero covers his woolly head.
The harness, spurs, buckles, and a good deal of the carriage trimmings are
silver; the horse's tail is braided once a week and tied to the saddle. No
frisky frightening off the flies from his perspiring and appetizing body!
Sometimes (in fact, usually) there is an extra horse outside of the
traces, so that labor is thus divided. The _volante_ drags the people; the
horse in the shafts drags the _volante_, and the extra horse drags
everything; the coachman does the spurring, whipping, and shouting, and
the inmates do the lolling.
I forgot to say that my friend, Lola Maddon, whom I used to know in Paris,
is here, married to Marquis San Carlos, who was a fascinating widower with
several children, whom Lola, like the dear creature she is, had taken
under her youthful wing. She rushed to see me the moment she heard that I
had come, and has already begun to "turn the stones" which are to be
turned for me to make my "visit illustrious" here. She has invited us to
the opera to-morrow, and gives a _soirée_ for me on the following evening.
I confess I am rather curious to see a _soirée_ in Havana. I hope they
have ice-chests to sit on and cool conversation. I shall not talk
politics; in the first place I can't, and in the second place because
it is heating to the blood.
Lola says her husband is a rabid Spaniard. "A rabid Spaniard!" Could
anything be more alarming? No; I will not be the innocent means to bring
about discussions, and precipitate a conflict between the Cubans and the
Spaniards! I have pinned upon the bed-curtains, next to the precautions
for preserving health and the washing-list, the words, "Never talk
politics, nor be led into listening to them," I can always, if pushed into
a corner, assume an air of profundity and say, "Is the crisis--" and then
stop and look for a word. The politician, if he is anything of a
politician, will finish the phrase for me, with the conviction that I know
all about it but am diplomatic.
To see the cows in Havana is enough to break your heart. I weep over them
in a sort of milky way. I have always seen cows in comfortable stables,
with nice, clean straw under their feet and pails full of succulent food
placed within easy reach, while at certain intervals a tidy, tender-
hearted young milkmaid appears with a three-legged stool and a roomy pail,
and extracts what the cow chooses to give her. But here the wiry creatures
roam from door to door, and drop a pint or so at each call. It is pitiful
to see the poor, degraded things, with their offspring following behind.
The latter are graciously allowed to accompany them; but no calls on
Nature are permitted, the poor little things are even muzzled!
Whenever I wish to go into the public parlor, where there is a piano, I
meet the Countess C----, who has evidently just been singing to her son
and her husband.
The first day I met her I approached her with the intention to talk music;
but she swept by with a look which withered me up to an autumn leaf and
left the room, followed by her music, son, and husband; but afterward,
when she saw the Captain of the Port in full gala offering me "_Cuba et
ses dépendences_," she changed her manner, and _then it was my turn!_ When
she asked me if I also knew Count Ceballos, the Governor General, I
answered, with a sweet smile, "Of course I do." "And many other people
here?" she asked, "All I think that are worth knowing," I replied, getting
up and leaving the room as abruptly as she had done. It was great fun,
though L---- thought I was rude.
We went to the theater with Marquise San Carlos. "All the world is here,"
said she. Certainly it looked as if all Havana filled the Tacon, which is
a very large theater. Every box was full, and the parquet, as Lola told
me, contained the _haute volée_ of the town; the open balconies were
sacred to the middle-class, while in the upper gallery were the nobodies,
with their children, poor things! decked out with flowers and trying to
keep awake through the very tiresome and _démodé_ performance of
"Macbeth." Tamberlik sang. What a glorious voice he has! And when he took
the high C (which, if I dare make the joke, did not at all resemble the
one Laura and I encountered coming out of New York Harbor) it was all I
could do to sit quiet. I wanted to wave something. The prima-donna was
_assoluta_, and must have been pickled in some academy in Italy years
ago, for she was not preserved. She acted as stupidly as she sang.
Each box has six seats and are all open, with the eternal lattice-door at
the back, and separated from its neighbor by a small partition. It was
very cozy, I thought; one could talk right and left, and when the
gentlemen circulated about in the _entr'actes_ smoking the inevitable
cigarette, which never leaves a Cuban's lips except to light a fresh one,
all the lattice-doors are eagerly opened to them. Lola presented all the
_haute volée_ to us, the unpresented just stared. I never realized
how much staring a man can do till I saw the Cuban. I mentioned this to
Lola, to which she responded, "It is but natural, you are a stranger."
"Dear friend," said I, "I have been a stranger in other lands, but I have
never seen the like of this. If I was an orang outang there might be some
reason, but to a simple mortal, or two simple mortals, like my sister and
myself, their stares seem either too flattering or the reverse."
"Why, my dear," she replied, "they mean it as the greatest compliment, you
may believe me." And she appealed to her husband, who confirmed what she
said. All the gentlemen carry fans and use them with vigor; the ladies are
so covered with powder (_cascarilla_) that you can't tell a pretty one
from an ugly one. If one of them happens to sneeze, there is an avalanche
Lola showed us her establishment and explained the architecture of a Cuban
house. If chance has put a chimney somewhere, they place the kitchen near
it. Light and size are of no account, neither is cooking of any
CUBA, _February, 1873._
We make such crowds of acquaintances it would be useless to tell you the
names. The Marquise San Carlos sent her carriage for us the evening of her
_soirée_. All the company was assembled when we arrived: the Marquis,
the Dean of Havana, and two abbés were playing _tresillo_, a Spanish
game of cards.
A group of men stood in the corner and seemed to be talking politics, as
far as I could judge from then gesticulations. A few ladies in sweeping
trains, and very _décolletées_, sat looking on listlessly. The daughter of
the house was nearing the piano. The Dean said to me, with a sly smile,
"Now is the _coup de grâce!_"--his little joke. She sang, "Robert, toi que
j'aime. Grâce! Grâce!" etc. Also she sang the waltz of "Pardon de
Ploërmel," a familiar _cheval de bataille_ of my own, which I was glad to
see cantering on the war-path again. In the mean time conversation was at
low ebb for poor Laura. She told me some fragments which certainly were
peculiar. For instance, she understood the gentle man who had last been
talking to her to say that he had been married five times, had twenty-
eight children, and had married his eldest son's daughter as his fifth
wife. I afterward ascertained that what he had intended to convey was that
he was twenty-eight when he married and had fifteen children. That was bad
enough, I thought.
I sang two or three times. The gaiety was brought to rather an abrupt
close, as the Marquis received a telegram of his brother's death. The Abbé
went on playing his game, not at all disturbed (such is the force of
habit); but we folded our tents and departed.
The hours are sung out in the streets at night, with a little flourish at
the end of each verse. I fancy the watchman trusts a good deal to
inspiration about this, as my clock--an excellent one--did not at all
chime in with his hours. Perhaps he composes his little verse, in which
case a margin ought to be allowed him....
The bells in the churches are old and cracked and decrepit.
All the fleet, and any other boat that wants to join in fire off salute,
to wake you up in the morning.
I bought to-day the eighth part of a lottery-ticket.
The Captain of the Port thinks his English is better than his French, but
sometimes it is very funny. He says: "Don't take care," instead of "Never
mind"--"The _volante_ is to the door"--"Look to me, I am all proudness"--
"You are all my anxiousness."
The houses are generally not more than one story high, built around an
open court, on which all rooms open. In the middle of this is a fountain;
no home is complete without a fountain, and no fountain is complete
without its surroundings of palms, plants, and flowers. In one of the
rooms you can see where the _volante_ reposes for the night. You only
see these glories at night. When the heavy bolts are drawn back you and
everybody can look in from the street on the family gathering, basking in
rocking-chairs around the fountain, and in oriental, somnolent
The annual _soirée_ of the Governor and his wife took place last night.
The Captain of the Port came to fetch us. The palace is, like all
other official buildings, magnificent on the outside, but simple and
severe within. There was a fine staircase, and all the rooms were
brilliantly lighted, but very scantily furnished, according to our ideas.
We must have gone through at least six rooms before we reached the host
and hostess. Every room was exactly alike: in each was a red strip of
carpet, half a dozen rocking-chairs placed opposite one another, a cane-
bottomed sofa, a table with nothing on it, and walls ditto. There are
never any curtains, and nothing is upholstered. This is the typical Cuban
There was an upright piano and a pianist at it when we entered, but the
resonance was so overpowering that I could not hear what he was playing.
Laura and I (after having been presented to a great many people) were
invited to sit in the rocking-chairs. The gentlemen either stood out in
the corridor or else behind the chair of a lady and fanned her. _Dulces_
and ices were passed round, and every one partook of them, delighted to
have the opportunity to do something else than talk.
When the pianist had finished his Chopin a lady sang, accompanied by her
son, who had brought a whole pile of music. She courageously attacked the
_Cavatina_ of "Ernani." The son filled up the places in her vocalization
which were weak by playing a dashing chord. She was a stout lady and very
warm from her exertions, and the more she exerted herself the more
frequently the vacancies occurred; and the son, perspiring at every pore,
had difficulty to fill them up with the chords, which became louder and
Countess Ceballos, with much hemming and hawing, begged me to sing. I felt
all eyes fixed on me; but my eyes were riveted to the little, low piano-
stool on which I should have to sit. It seemed miles below the piano-keys.
"How could I play on it?" Evidently none but long-bodied performers had
been before me, for when I asked for a cushion, in order to raise myself a
little, nothing could be found but a very bulgy bed-pillow, which was
brought, I think, from the mother country. There was a sort of Andalusian
swagger about it.
The dream "that I dwelt in marble halls" was no longer a dream. Here I was
singing in one. I sang "_Ma Mère était Bohémienne_," and another song
which had an easy accompaniment. It took me a little moment to temper my
voice to these shorn rooms.
The charge of musketry which followed was deafening, though only gentlemen
clapped their hands; ladies don't rise to such exertion in Cuba. I sang
"Beware!" as a parting salute. The Captain of the Port came up, flushed
with pride, and said, in his best English, "I am all proudness!"
_Panelas_ (large pieces of frosted sugar, to be melted in water) and
other sweets were passed about at intervals.
Shaking hands is a great institution here. No one wears gloves except at
the opera, so that one's hands are in a perpetual state of fermentation,
especially after one of these functions, when making acquaintances,
expressing thanks, and everything else are done through the medium of the
hands. One can literally say that one wrings one's hands.
We, as the distinguished guests, were led into the supper-room very
ceremoniously, and put among the higher strata of society. The buffet was
overflowing with Cuban delicacies and _dulces_. I reveled in the fruit and
left the viands severely alone.
After supper we went into the ball-room, and saw for the first time the
Cuban waltz, otherwise called _Habanera_, a curious dance something
between a shuffle and a languid glide. The dancers hardly move from the
same spot, or at most keep in a very small circle, probably on account of
the heat and exertion; and then the dispersing of so much powder, with
which every lady covers herself and gets rid of when she moves, has to be
The music has a peculiar measure; I have never heard anything like it
before. The instruments seemed mostly to be violins, flutes, clarinets,
and a small drum. The bass is very rhythmical and deep, whereas the thin
tones of the other instruments are on the very highest notes, which leaves
a gap between the upper and lower tones, making such a peculiar effect
that the music pursues and haunts you even in your dreams.
We bade our host and hostess good night and, followed by the Captain of
the Port, who now was not only "all proudness," but full of
"responsibilitiveness," left the palace. In passing the music-room I took
a farewell look at the bulgy bed-pillow, which was still reposing on the
DEAR MAMA,--You have no idea of the heat here. I never felt anything so
scorching as it was to-day. Let me tell you what happened.
General Lliano came in the morning to ask what Havana could show me. I
answered that above all things I wanted to see Morro Castle. He replied
that Morro Castle was mine, and that I had only to fix the time and he
would take us there.
I did fix it, and fixed it at two o'clock, as a fit hour to visit the
_Cabaña_. I noticed the look of blank despair on our friend's face,
but, not knowing that all Cuba slept between the hours of two and five, I
did not realize the piteousness of it. General Lliano begged the Captain
of the Port, Señor Català, to accompany us, and both of these gentlemen
came in full uniform, as well as their aides-de-camp.
The Captain's trim little boat was at the wharf near our hotel, and we
were rowed over by the governmental crew to the opposite shore, and were
met by the Governor of Morro Castle at the landing in the most sweltering
heat. I had not forgotten to take the precaution, which anywhere else
would have been appropriate, to carry extra wraps, as I told Laura that
they were necessary for every water excursion. You may imagine the _de-
trop_-ness of these articles when the thermometer was up at one hundred
and twenty in the shade.
We were taken about conscientiously and shown all that there was to be
seen: all the dungeon-cells and subterranean passages, and up the hill to
see the view, which was very extended and very beautiful. From there we
went to the Governor's house, where we were greeted by his wife and
daughter, the wife stiff in black moiré (I mean the moiré was stiff, not
she). He placed himself, his wife and daughter, and his mansion at my
disposal. I would not have minded taking the old gentleman; but I
absolutely refused the lady and the moiré dress.
_Dulces_ were served and some unappetizing-looking ices, which tasted
better than they looked. Cakes also were offered us, of which I picked out
those which had the least mauve and yellow coatings. When we were
presented with some stiff little bouquets we thought it was a signal for
departure, and bade adieu to the black moiré and the fast-melting ices.
From the _Cabaña_ we walked along the macadamized road to the Morro
Castle, a long distance it seemed to me in the heat; but we left the hard
and glaring road and walked over the grass, following the line of the
subterranean passage, which made a sort of mound, and finally reached
Morro Castle. Here there were more officials, more presentations and more
ceremonies, and more _dulces_ and more bouquets.
The view from the ramparts, on which stood the lighthouse, was sublime:
the blue sea underneath us, Havana on the left, and the purple mountains
in the far distance.
One of the officials asked us whether we wanted to go to the top of the
lighthouse. I declined, much to the relief of the assembled company. They
say that fish have been thrown up by the spray over the lighthouse; but
this seems almost as incredible as the majority of fishy stories. The
castle is very high, the ramparts are higher, and the lighthouse crowns
everything. The water dashes up through narrow crevices in the rocks,
which gives it great force, and possibly might account for the fish story,
but I doubt it.
By this time (six o'clock) we were utterly exhausted. Even at this hour
the heat was intolerable. We had hoped for a little breeze on the water;
but, alas! there was none. Poor Señor Herreras held his foot incased in
tight patent-leather boots in his lap, moaning, "Comme je souffre!"
How they all must have blessed me for this idea of mine! I felt ashamed to
look them in the face.
I could not tell you all the things we were taken to see. We visited the
German and Spanish men-of-war As we were in the company of the Governor-
General, the Commander, and the Captain-General, we were not spared the
proper salutes. The tour of the war-ships had to be made, and in place of
the eternal _dulces_ international refreshments were offered us. We
departed in the Captain of the Port's steam-launch, and drove to the
Carreo, where the pretty villas are.
The Governor-General drove us out to his _quinta_ in great style:
English horses and carriage and an American coachman. The roads were
pretty bad, and we were considerably jostled going through the _Paseo._
The coachman careered from side to side to avoid ruts and tracks, and the
dust was overpowering. No conversation was possible, as our throats were
filled with dust and our lives hanging on a thread. I waved my hand in the
direction of anything I thought pretty, and silence followed.
At the _quinta_ all was ready and waiting for us. Fountains were playing,
servants in red and yellow gorgeous liveries, with white stockings, were
flitting about; various Cuban delicacies were offered to us, and we
admired everything that was to be admired. The return drive was
delightful, through the long avenues of stately palms and graceful date-
The carnival is a great event and very amusing. I am not spoiled in the
way of carnivals, only having seen that of Paris (the _Boeuf gras_)
and the Battle of Flowers at Nice. The populace turn out in great force,
every one is gay and happy, and the Cubans high and low join in the sport.
We were invited to drive in a four-in-hand. In this way we had a kind of
bird's-eye view of the whole. No lady thinks herself too fine to join in
the carnival. The procession, which defiles up and down the _Paseo_ during
the fray, begins at four in the hot, broiling afternoon, and ladies,
decked out as Diana, Minerva, or other celebrities, powdered _à
l'outrance_, smiling and proud of their success, recline in their
_volantes_. Their own servants, with false noses or otherwise disguised,
have their fun, too. I never saw such an orderly crowd; no pushing, no
quarreling, no drunkenness, and yet every one was enjoying himself. There
were two rows of carriages, one going up, one going down, with a place in
the middle for the four-in-hands and the _chars_, some of which were very
ingenious. There was a steamship with sailors, who kept firing off the
whistle every time they saw a skittish horse. On another car were men
dressed as skeletons with death's-heads instead of masks, and Shylock-
looking Jews riding with their backs to the horses' heads, holding on to
A Punch and Judy were acting on a little stage during the procession,
surrounded by children of all sizes and ages decked out in costumes, their
tinselly flowers showing off their thin and sallow faces. There was a
tremendous tooting of horns, and, with the music in the square and the
music on the _chars_, made a perfect Bedlam. People nudged one another as
we hove in sight in our four-in-hand.
The G----s did not relish the carnival as much as we did, and thought it a
dismal affair. They captured a victoria by force, the coachman refusing to
take them until they said "Paseo" upon which he started off on a trot. He
had a dilapidated old horse, who had to be beaten all the way there, and
when there, what do you think the coachman did? Simply pulled out a false
nose and put it on and lighted a cigarette, stuck his hat on the lamp, and
jeered at all the other vehicles, being on jeering terms with all the
other cabmen; and as the _Paseo_ is a mile long, it meant a mile of
mortification. They came home disgusted and voted the carnival a
DEAR M.,--In my last letter I told you of our invitation to the _bal
poudré_ and _masqué_ here. Count Ceballos, thinking it would amuse us to
see it, arranged that we should stay at the palace, where the ball was to
The Captain of the Port, with his aide-de-camp, accompanied us on our
trip, and as he was going there in some official capacity, we shared his
We had no adventures except that of traveling in company with a rather
rough-looking set of men, who were on their way to a cock-fight. The cocks
were tied up in bags; but as I wanted to see one the man opened the bag
and took it out, and also showed me the spurs they strap on them when they
We arrived in Matanzas about six o'clock, to find the Mayor's carriage
waiting for us. We drove to the palace, and after dinner dressed for the
ball. We did not attempt anything in the way of mask or costume, as being
unknown and _unpowdered_ was a sufficient disguise.
The Captain of the Port knew every one there, and presented many of his
friends. We went out and stood on the balcony, looking at the sea of
upturned heads. It seemed as if every Matanzois who was not inside was
outside gazing at the windows, and listening to the band which was playing
in the square. The night was glorious with a full moon.
I think that I have described in a former letter the Cuban dance, the
languid tropical shuffle they call the _Habanera_. The music is so
monotonous, always the same over and over again, and only ceases when it
is convenient to the musicians.
The ladies had _cascarilla_ (a powder made of eggshells) an inch thick on
their faces. I doubt if the officers ever saw so much powder as they did
at this _bal poudré_.
There was a sit-down supper, consisting of sandwiches smelling strong of
bad butter, ham and chicken salads, _dulces_ of all sorts, but, alas!
no fruit. The dancing continued long after we had retired for the night.
The Marquis Aldamar invited us to a _déjeuner_ for the following day;
the _volantes_ were again "to the door," and we started off in grand
style and great spirits and drove to the top of the mountain, from which
we enjoyed a perfectly glorious view of the Yumiri Valley. The winding
river looked like a silver thread as it wound in and out through the
Our _déjeuner_ was of a more European character than any that we had
yet had in Cuba; the menu was in French--evidently the cook was also
French--and the servants looked imported. In fact, everything was in
very good style. The hostess was charming and musical, she sang some very
pretty Cuban songs, and after a while asked me if I were musical, and if I
would play something.
The Captain, in an undertone and in all "proudness," said, "Ask Madame to
sing." And she did so in a rather condescending manner.
I accepted and went timidly to the piano, and as I hesitated as to what I
should sing, she said, "Oh! just sing any little thing." With an amused
glance at Laura I sang Chopin's waltz, which is the most difficult thing I
sing, and the astonishment depicted on the countenance of my patronizing
hostess was highly diverting.
"I wonder if you are any relation of a Mrs. Moulton whom my cousin knew in
Paris," she said. "He was very intimate with a family of your name, and
often talked to me about a Mrs. Moulton who sang so beautifully."
"Can it be that I am the same person? I have lived in Paris. What was your
cousin's name?" I inquired.
"What!" I cried. "Jules Alphonso your cousin? I have not seen him for
years. I used to know him so well. Where is he?"
"He lives here in Cuba," she answered.
"Where in Cuba?" I interrupted. "How extraordinary! How much I should like
to see him again!"
"And he, I am sure, would like to see you, he has so often talked about
you to me. I felt directly last night that I knew you; it must have been
I think, Mama, you must remember Jules. He was like a second son in our
house, and was an intimate friend of my brother-in-law, and would have
liked to have been a brother-in-law himself if he had been accepted. We
all loved him. How strange to find him here! The last place in the world I
should have dreamed of! I am not sure that I ever knew that he was a
My new friend was wild with joy. "You are the one person that I have
wanted to know all my life, and, fancy, here you are!"
Was it not a curious coincidence to meet _here_, in this out-of-the-way
place, some one who knew all about me?
I repeated, "I must see Jules, and if he is anywhere near I shall
certainly try to find him." "Let us go together," she said. "I will drive
you there, and we will take him by surprise." Two _volantes_ were
immediately before the door, and the Marquise Aldamar, the Captain of the
Port, Laura, and I started for La Rosa, Jules's plantation. It was an
enchanting drive, though a long one, leading, as it did, through avenues
of royal palms, and it was quite six o'clock before we reached Jules's
house. I said to the Marquise Aldamar, "As Jules has no idea that I am in
this part of the world, let me go in alone and surprise him."
We drove up to the entrance of his pretty villa, and the others
accompanied me to the door of the salon with a finger on their lips, so
that the servant should not announce us. We saw Jules sitting at a table
reading. I entered softly and went behind him, and laying my hand on his
shoulder said, "Jules!"
He turned quickly about, and when he saw me he thought I was an apparition
or a dream. "What! What!" he cried, trembling with astonishment.
"It is I--Lillie Moulton," I said, quietly.
"You! you! No, it can't be possible!" And he took hold of my hands as if
to see if they were flesh and blood. "Where did you come from? How did you
get here? What brought you here?" followed in quick succession. The others
pushed aside the curtain and came in. Then followed explanations. I was
obliged to answer thousands of questions, and go into thousands of
details, concerning the family, Paris, the war, and so forth. He ordered
champagne, improvised a little supper for us, and did not seem to be able
to do enough to show his delight at seeing me. But the Captain of the Port
soon reminded us that it was time to be on our way back to Matanzas, as it
was a long drive, and I bade a tearful farewell to lonely Jules. Our
comet-like visit must have seemed to him like a vision, and he watched us,
with eyes full of tears, drive away out of his life. Poor Jules!
We spent the following morning in driving about the city. At half-past two
crossed the ferry to Yuanana-bocca, where we found the amiable director
and the rest of the party. The cars, with their cane-bottomed seats, were
cool. The scenery was exquisite. On both sides of the road were real
jungles of tropical growth, with the purple mountains as a background. We
passed many _ingenios_ (plantations), with their tall, smoking chimneys,
all in full blast.
On reaching our destination we were met by _volantes_ and saddle-horses.
The former were for the ladies, the latter for the gentlemen of the party,
and we made our way through the narrow, dirty streets, passed the walls of
the city, and came out on to the beautiful road, where a gang of chained
prisoners were breaking stones.
We passed many villas and well-kept gardens, and arrived at the bottom of
the hill, where we were obliged to get out and walk, for the roads became
impassable. It was a stiff climb; but when we reached the summit we were
rewarded by a most magnificent view. We descended and reached the
_volantes,_ the drivers whipped up their horses, and away we went over
rocks and ruts, but feeling nothing of them. That is the charm of a
_volante;_ only the wheels, which are behind you, get the jerks and jolts.
After a half-hour's drive we reached the famous cave, Laura and I were
supplied with garments looking like mackintoshes, and, provided with
torches, we began to descend. We first came to a large, vaulted hall,
where miles of stalactites in every form and shape twinkled in the light
of the torches.
We had to crawl through a small opening to get into another vaulted room
which boasted of an echo. The guide struck a note and I sang a cadenza,
which resounded like a thousand voices.
There never could have been a thermometer made that could register such
heat as we felt here; the air was frightfully oppressive and almost
They pointed out the Pope's Miter, the Virgin's Veil, the Altar, the Boat
--all looking about as much like their names as an apple looks like a pack
of cards. After being shown the lake I begged for fresh air, and we
mounted the steep wooden stairs. The hot air outside seemed like a wintry
breeze when we came into it, and we were told that we must cool off before
venturing into the hot sun. Then we _volanted_ back to Matanzas.
Our next visit was to the well-known _ingenio_ (sugar-plantation)
belonging to the cousin of the Marquis San Carlos. The sugar-mill stood in
front of the master's house, so that the master could watch from his broad
balcony the bringing in of the sugar-cane, which was hauled by huge cart-
loads drawn by oxen. The sugar-cane, on its arrival, was put between great
crushing wheels before it was thrown into the vats. The sturdy negresses,
up to their elbows, stirred the foaming syrup after it had boiled. Then it
was skimmed and boiled again to purify it. It went through a centrifugal
process to crystallize it, and afterward was packed in boxes and stamped
in less time than it takes to relate this. I liked to breathe the hot
vapors coming from the huge tanks. What remains of the sugar is used as
fuel; so nothing is wasted.
All the slaves seemed gay and well-fed. The Chinese, I believe, are liked
better than the natives, they are so clean and adroit. We visited the
houses of the slaves and found them all well kept. The master threw silver
pieces (ten cents) to the children, who seemed content in their bare
nakedness and clamored for more pennies. We drank _querap_ (molasses)
from the tanks mixed with whiskey. It was very good; but a little went
very far. Two small children fanned us with palmettos during dinner. We
passed the night there in the _ingenio_; but we saw no tarantulas, as
was predicted. The next morning, when our coffee was brought, there was an
assortment of delicious fruits--pineapples, guavas, bananas, cocoanuts,
mangos, etc., which we enjoyed immensely. There was a little excitement
before we started: the gardener, a bridegroom of eighty-five summers, was
married to a blooming young person of eighty, both slaves and black as
ink. We arrived at Havana that evening.
You can't tell how grieved I was to hear of the kind and good Emperor
Napoleon's death. He was only sixty-five years old. I thought he was
older. What an eventful life he had--tragical would be the right word.
What did he not endure? When he was a child he was an exile, and since
then, until he became first President and then Emperor, he was knocking
about the world, sometimes hidden and sometimes pursued. However, he had
fifteen years of glory, for there was not in all Europe a man more
considered than he was, and he had until the last four years of his reign
more prestige than any other sovereign. I think after the tragedy of
Mexico his star began to pale.
The Emperor Napoleon was certainly the kindest-hearted and best-
intentioned man in the world, so full of life, fun, and appreciation. I
can see him now shaking with laughter when anything amused him, as was
often the case at Compiègne.
The papers say that he had once been a policeman in London. I do not
believe this is true, though the Emperor told me himself that he had lived
very humbly at times; still, that is very different from being a
policeman. I wonder if the Prince will try to get back the throne. He does
not look as if he had a strong character, nor does he look as if he had
the energy of the Emperor, which enabled him to go through so many
hardships to gain his ends.
How sad it is! I am sure the Empress's only consolation is the thought
that her son can recover the position the father lost.
We returned to Havana quite tired out with our little journey, and glad to
rest in the quiet of our cool rooms, and I looked across the water,
crowded with boats of every description, and gazed with delight at the
distant mountains, with their clouds dragging themselves from one summit
to the other.
How hot it is! I never thought that the sun, which is so high up, could
pour down so; but it does pour down. I think it is hotter here than in
We shall be leaving here in a few days, and I suppose we shall find ice
and snow in New York, and return to india-rubbers and umbrellas--things
unknown here. During our absence some German men-of-war have arrived here,
and stationed themselves right in front of our windows.
It must be their wash-day, for all the sailors' clothes are hanging out to
Lola San Carlos is in light gray--the mourning one wears for a brother-in-
law is not heavy in this warm country. She has invited us to a card-party
for tomorrow; card-parties are evidently not gay enough to interfere with
DEAR MAMA,--Well, we are really going to return! As usual, I have no more
clothes, and I certainly will not be bothered to have anything made here.
My black tulle dress has become brown and gray in its efforts to keep up
to the mark; and as for Laura's white lace, it has become gray and brown,
so you see we must go home.
We went to Lola's card-party. There was the bereaved brother, looking very
chirpy, and the Dean, and the Abbé. They kindly proposed to teach me their
favorite game of _tresillo_. They took a lively interest in my ignorance.
They told me the rules and the names of the extraordinary cards; for
instance, hearts were represented by coins, for clubs there were clubs,
while trees and swords served for diamonds and spades. Every card is
something else than what you have called it before. The value of each is
changed according to the trump. What you have considered always as a low
card, such as the two of spades, suddenly becomes the best card in the
All the cards have Spanish names--Spadilla, Manilla, Basta, Ponto, and
Matadores--which sound very romantic. A simple seven of hearts becomes
suddenly top card and is called Manilla, which is the second best when
hearts are trumps, and then the two of clubs, which was miles high the
last hand, is at the tail of all the other cards now. It is a dreadful
game. I thought that I should have brain fever while learning it. They
went on playing it for hours; there never seemed any end to it; they
counted in the weirdest way, making ciphers and tit-tat-toes on the green
baize table with chalk, and wiped out with a little brush. Every trick of
the adversary was deducted, and all the heads met over the chalk-marks to
find out mistakes.
DEAR M.,--A dance was given at the Captain-General's, where all the
officers of the German and Spanish men of war were present. It was a very
brilliant sight, and we made many delightful acquaintances. Commodore
Werner of the German _Friedrich Wilhelm,_ Commodore Livonius of the
_Elizabeth,_ besides many other charming officers, as well as many
Spanish officers from the _Gerona._ The Germans danced with more energy
than the Cubans are accustomed to, and they stared at the unusual vigor
displayed, and accounted for it, saying it was because they were new-
comers. In fact, the officers, in their trim uniforms, looked very hot
and wilted at the end of the evening. Commodore Werner was a most gallant
gentleman, and as we did not dance, he had the leisure to tell me all
about his family, his literary tastes, and his admiration for pretty
ladies; and he finished by asking if we would do him the honor to lunch on
his ship the next day. A handsome young lieutenant (Tirpitz) came to ask
me to dance, but Commodore Werner gave him what in other less tropical
countries might be called a freezing look, remarking that no one ought to
dance in such heat as this. The young lieutenant left us quite subdued;
but the heat did not prevent his dancing with many ladies, if not with me.
The next day we went to lunch on the _Friedrich Wilhelm,_ and it was
with delight that we sat on the awning-covered deck. The Commodore asked
me to give him an idea for some occupation for the sailors, who had so
much time on their hands, and, as I happened to know how to plait straw, I
proposed showing them how to do it.
The Commodore sent a launch to Havana to get the straw, and we passed the
afternoon dividing the time between listening to the music of the ship's
band and tasting different beverages and eating German pretzels and
teaching the sailors how to plait.
At five o'clock we were rowed ashore, and welcomed a little fresh breeze
which had sprung up.
The following morning the inmates of the hotel were awakened at an early
hour by the solemn hymn which belongs to a German serenade. The kind
Commodore had sent his band to play for me, and it filled the whole hall.
The early breakfasters were dreadfully put out about it; the brass
instruments sounded like a double orchestra, and resounded in these marble
halls like volleys of musketry; and as for the hotel-keeper, he has not
got over his surprise yet.
We had many pleasant days after this. Each one, we said, would be the
last; still we stayed on. One of the German men-of-war gave a ball, the
Spanish gave another; each vied with the other to give the finest
entertainment. It was a pleasure to go on board the German boats,
everything was so spick and span, the sailors so neat and trim, the deck
so beautifully kept, and the brasses glistened red-hot in the sun.
I cannot tell you all we did these last days. I was glad to hear that the
German sailors had profited by my lessons, and had in a short time plaited
straw enough to make some hats for themselves. I shall always feel proud
when I see a German sailor with a straw hat, for I shall feel that I laid
the foundation of this industry.
One of the afternoons we spent on the Commodore's boat. I sang for the
officers in the cabin, and then, when I was on deck, I sang some of the
songs from "Pinafore" for the sailors, whom the Commodore called together
to hear me. They grinned from ear to ear when I sang "What, never?"
"Hardly ever," and "Never used a big, big D," in the captain's song in
"Pinafore." This was the last time we visited our amiable German host.
I shall post this letter in New York. It will probably reach you before we
Our departure was a triumphal procession. The Captain of the Port, devoted
to the last, took us in his official steam-launch to our steamer. Flowers,
fruit, and souvenirs of all kinds filled our cabin to overflowing, and
when we passed the German boats, hats and handkerchiefs were waved aloft,
and the bands on the decks played with all their Teutonic might until we
were out of hearing distance.
We noticed our tall, handsome lieutenant standing alone on the fore part
of the deck. He made a fine naval salute, while the good Commodore waved
his handkerchief frantically.
The Captain of the Port accompanied us down the harbor as far as Morro
Castle in his steam-launch.
Adieu, dear Havana!
WASHINGTON, _April, 1873._
DEAR LAURA,--The weather was atrociously bad when we returned to New York,
and as for Boston--it was simply impossible. I began coughing and sneezing
as soon as I reached home. So I decided to go to Washington on a visit to
Mrs. Robeson, wife of the Secretary of the Navy. She had often asked me;
this was an excellent opportunity to accept.
Mrs. Robeson is a fine woman, built on ministerial, lines, and looks like
a war-ship in review rig. They have an amusing house. Their Sunday
evenings are the rendezvous of clever people; the men are particularly
entertaining--Mr. Blaine, Mr. Bayard, and other shining lights.
She is musical, and sings with pleasure. She has a luscious mezzo-soprano.
She sang "Robin Adair" on one of these occasions with so much conviction
that it seemed as though she was routing Robin from his first sleep. Then
she sang a French song in a childish voice (she thought it was a
_backfisch_ song); but I think it was anything but that, for I noticed
some Scandi-knavish glances between the Danish and Swedish Ministers,
which made me suspicious.
There is a delightful German Minister (Mr. Schlözer) here, who is very
musical; though he does not know a note of music, he can improvise for
SOMMERBERG, _July, 1874._
DEAR MAMA,--My last letter was from Dinard, where I was nestling in the
bosom of my family and enjoying the repose and the rest that family bosoms
alone can give. I told you of my intention to visit Helen at her place on
the Rhine, and here I am enjoying another kind of rest: the rest of my
Paul is at present Minister in Madrid; Helen and I lead a very quiet life.
Driving to Wiesbaden to see the Nassaus and other friends is our favorite
occupation. We linger in the shady walks of the park, look in at the
gambling-rooms, sometimes we go to the races, and always come home tired.
And then, how we enjoy the garden and the beautiful view over the Rhine!
Some days we go out riding in the lovely forest, which leads to the most
prettily situated little "bad" place in the world--Schlangenbad.
Helen has in her stables three horses, two of which are the "fat ponies"
and the third is the war-horse that Paul used in the French-German
campaign. We take the war horse in turn, as he has to be exercised. When
it is my day I shudder at the thought of it. Riding is not my strong
point; in fact, it is my weakest point, and I feel that I am not at all in
my element; and when I see the tall beast being led up to the door, and I
know that at a given moment I am to be fired up on to his back, my heart
sinks. He has a gentle way with him which makes the process of getting on
him extremely difficult. Just as my foot is in the groom's hand, and I say
one--two--three, and am in midair, the horse moves gently to one side, and
I either land on the hard pommel or, more often, I fill an empty space
between the horse and the groom, which is awkward. However, when, after
repeated efforts, I _do_ manage to hit the saddle on the right place
I stick there.
He is full of fancies--this horse--and reminiscences, and sometimes gets
the idea into his head that he hears the bugle-call to arms. Then off he
goes to join his imaginary companions, and charges the trees or anything
that occurs to him, and nothing on earth can stop him, certainly nothing
on his back can. My hair comes down and my hat flies off, and I feel I am
not doing the _haute école_ in proper style. Fortunately Helen and I
are alone, and as the war-horse is miles in front of the "fat pony," she
does not see the _école_ I am doing, and I rather enjoy the wild way we
career over space. I do not attempt to guide his martial steps, but let
him come into camp when he feels inclined.
The groom is never surprised if I come an hour too late. I fancy he knows
what I have gone through: brambles, branches, and--agony.
SOMMERBERG, _July, 1874._
I have just returned from a delightful visit to the Prince and Princess
Metternich. It was very hot the day I left here, and the sun poured down
on the broad, white roads which lead from Sommerberg to the station. On my
arrival at Johannisberg Prince Metternich was waiting for me with a
_calèche à la Daumont_.
Our jaunty postilion blew his little horn incessantly as we galloped
through the village and up the long, steep hill which leads to the
château. The walls on both sides of the badly paved, narrow road were high
and unpicturesque--not a tree to be seen; vineyards, vineyards everywhere
--nothing but vineyards.
The château is a very ugly building, of no particular kind of
architecture, looking more like a barn than a castle. It is shaped like an
enormous E, without towers or ornamentation of any kind.
The Princess was at the door, and welcomed me most affectionately, and
with her were the other guests: the handsome Duchess d'Ossuna, Count
Zichy, Count Kevenhüller, Count Fitz-James, and Commandant Duperré. The
immense hall, which occupies the entire center of the house, has five
windows giving out on the courtyard and five on the terrace, and is
comfortably furnished with all kinds of arm-chairs, rugs, and so forth. A
grand piano stood in one corner near the window, and over this window was
an awning (an original idea of the Princess, to put an awning inside,
instead of outside of the window). An unusually large table, covered with
quaint books, periodicals, and the latest novels, stood in the middle of
the room, and there were plants, palms, and flowers everywhere.
The Princess showed me the different rooms. Her boudoir was hung with
embroidered satin. One room I liked particularly; the walls were covered
with the coarsest kind of écru linen, on which were sewed pink pigeons cut
out of cretonne; even the ceiling had its pigeons flying away in the
distance. Another room was entirely furnished in cashmere shawls--a
present from the Shah himself. There must have been a great many, to have
covered the walls and all the divans.
Nowhere could the Princess have had such a chance to show what she could
do as here, in the transforming of this barrack into a livable place. I
admired everything immensely. She told me that she thought she was very
practical, because, when they leave here, all the hangings can be taken
down and folded and put away, so that the next year they are just as good
They only stay here two months every year (July and August); the enormous
display of flowers on the long terrace before the château is also
temporary. There are at least four to five hundred pots of flowers, mostly
geraniums, which make a brilliant effect for the time being, as long as
the family are here; then they go back to the greenhouse.
Tea was served in the hall; every one was in the gayest of spirits, and
crowded around the piano to hear Prince Metternich's last waltz, which was
very inspiring. After the music was finished and the tea-table removed, I
was shown to my rooms; I reached them by a tiny winding staircase, the
walls of which were hung with Adrianople (turkey red), and covered with
miniatures and fine engravings.
Dinner was served very sumptuously; the servants were in plush breeches
and had powdered hair. I sat on the left of Prince Metternich and next to
Count Kevenhüller, who is a Knight of Malta. I said to the Prince, "A
Knight of Malta always suggests to my mind romance and the Middle Ages."
"It shows," the Prince replied, "how naïve you are. It is true that he is
middle-aged, but he has not a ray of romance in him. Don't trust him!
Maltese Knights and Maltese cats do their killing on the sly."
During the dinner delicious Johannisberg was served alternately with
ordinary beer. Conversation alternated with laughter, and after dinner
albums and music alternated with flirtations. The Prince played some of
his charming new songs. On the piano was a beautifully bound book
containing them. He pointed to it, saying, "I have had this made for you,"
and showed me the title-page, where he had written, "À l'Inspiratrice!" I
was tremendously pleased and sang all the songs, one after the other. The
Prince has had leisure to compose a great deal since he retired into
private life. He is wonderfully talented--not only for music, but for
painting. Everything he does he does better than any one else.
He said that during the war, when he was obliged to stay in Bordeaux, he
would have died of ennui if he had not had his music and drawing to occupy
him, especially as the Princess and the children were not with him, and he
was dreadfully lonely.
It was a lovely night, and we walked till very late on the terrace and
gazed at the view across the Rhine, over the miles of vineyards and little
villages sparkling with lights.
The Prince told me all about the Empress's flight from the Tuileries after
the catastrophe of Sedan. He said that when the news came to the Embassy
that the mob was about to enter the Tuileries he communicated with Count
Nigra (the Italian Ambassador), and they decided to go there instantly, to
offer their services to the Empress.
When they arrived there they saw the mob already before the gates. They
left their carriages on the quay, and entered by a door into the gallery
of the Louvre, and hurried to the apartment of the Empress. There they
found her with Madame Le Breton. She was very calm and collected, already
dressed in a black-silk gown, and evidently prepared for flight. She had
in her hand a small traveling-bag, which contained some papers and a few
Seeing them, she exclaimed, "Tell me, what shall I do?"
The Prince said, "What does General Trochu advise, your Majesty?"
"Trochu!" she repeated. "I have sent for him twice, but he does not
trouble himself to answer or to come to me."
Then the Prince said, "Count Nigra and I are here to put ourselves
entirely at your Majesty's service."
The Empress thanked them and said: "What do you think best for me to do?
You see how helpless I am."
The Prince answered that, according to their judgment, the wisest thing
for her Majesty to do would be to leave Paris at once, and added that his
carriage was there and she could make use of it.
She then put on her hat and cloak and said, "I am ready to follow you."
They went through the Pavilion de Flore and through the Galerie du Louvre
until they reached a small door leading out on to the quay, where the two
coupes were waiting. The Prince had already thought of one or two friends
to whom the Empress could go and remain until they joined her, to help her
to devise some means for leaving Paris. He said that during the long walk
through the gallery the Empress remained calm and self-possessed, though
one could see that she was suffering intensely.
They reached the quay without hindrance and found the carriages. The
Prince opened the door of his and gave his orders to his coachman; but the
Empress suddenly refused, saying that she preferred to go in a cab, and
begged them not to follow her.
There was a cab-stand directly opposite where they stood. They hailed one,
and she and Madame Le Breton were about to get in when a little boy cried
out, "Voilà l'Impératrice!" Count Nigra, quick as thought, turned on the
boy and said in a loud voice, "Comment! tu cries 'Vive la Prusse!" and
boxed his ears, so that attention should be diverted from the Empress.
The Prince gave the names of the streets and the numbers of the houses to
the cabman where he had proposed to the Empress to go, and the ladies
"Did you not follow her?" I asked.
"Yes" he answered. "In spite of the Empress's wishes, after allowing
enough time for her to get well on her way, we drove to the two addresses
given, but did not find her at either of them. We could not imagine what
had happened to her."
"What _had_ happened to her?" I asked.
"It was only after hours of the greatest anxiety that we ourselves knew.
About six o'clock I received a note from the Empress saying that she had
gone to the two houses we had named, but that no one was there, and then,
not knowing what to do, had in despair thought of Dr. Evans, the dentist,
and had driven to his house, where she was in safety for the moment."
"What a dreadful moment for the Empress! How did she dare to send the note
"It was imprudent," said the Prince; "but she intrusted it to Dr. Crane,
who happened to be dining with Dr. Evans. He brought it to me and gave it
into my own hands."
"Did you go to see her?"
"Yes, I went to see her; but strict orders had been given not to let any
one enter, not even me."
The Prince showed me this letter, which he kept locked up in a desk.
Seeing the tears in my eyes, he said, giving me the envelope, "I know you
will value this, and I beg you will keep it."
[Illustration: FAC-SIMILE OF LETTER:
À Son Altesse Le Prince de Metternich
I told him that I would value it more than any one possibly could, and did
not know how to thank him enough.
He told me a great deal more about the Empress, her hardships and trials,
and how brave she had been through them all. She never uttered a word of
reproach against any one, except against Trochu, whom she called an arch-
traitor. He told me also of the last time he had seen her Majesty at
Chiselhurst, and how sad this interview had been. The beautiful and adored
Empress of France now a widow and an exile! I was sorry that our
conversation was interrupted--I could have listened for hours; but tea was
announced, and we were obliged to leave the library.
The next day the Prince and his friends were deeply engaged in making a
kite; they tried everything imaginable to coax it to fly, but it refused.
The Prince even mounted a ladder, hoping to catch the wind by holding it
higher; but all in vain. The moment he let go, down flapped the kite with
almost human spitefulness.
After the Prince had said _saperlotte!_ twenty times, they gave up the
kite and played tennis, a new game, over which he is as enthusiastic
as he used to be over croquet, until the blast of a horn announced the
arrival of the archducal four-in-hand, which they were expecting.
Then there was a hurried putting on of coats and wiping of perspiring
brows, and they all went forward to receive the Archduke Louis, who had
driven over from Wiesbaden to spend the day, bringing with him some
Prince Metternich immediately proposed their playing tennis. Some of them
were eager to do so, but the Archduke, being fatigued by his long drive,
begged to go to his room until luncheon.
Then, while the gentlemen were playing tennis, the Princess took me to the
kitchen-garden to show me the American green-corn, planted from seeds
which we had given to her at Petit Val four years ago. She told me, with
great joy, that we were to have some for dinner.
After luncheon we were invited to visit the famous wine-vaults. The
intendant appeared with the keys, and, accompanied by a subordinate, we
followed him down the stairs to the heavily bolted oak door, which he
opened with a flourish. The first thing we saw, on entering, was
_Willkommen_ in transparencies in front of the entrance.
These cellars had the same dimensions as the castle, one hundred feet each
way. Rows and rows of large casks placed close together lined the walls,
and each cask had a lighted candle upon it embedded in plaster. Lamps hung
at intervals from the vaulted ceiling, giving a weird look to the long
alleys, which seemed to stretch out for miles through the dim vista.
We walked on. Every little while we came to what the Prince called a
_cabaret_, and what the Princess called more poetically a _bosquet_, but
which literally was a table and chairs surrounded by plants. The smell of
the wine was overpowering. When we reached _bosquet_ No. 1 the intendant
handed each of us a full glass of Johannisberg, the same that was served
at the table; at _bosquet_ No. 2 we received only half a glass of a finer
quality. At _bosquet_ No. 3, on the walls of which were the initials of
the Duchess d'Ossuna (E. O., formed by candles), we only got a liqueur
The farther we went the older, and therefore the more valuable, the wine
was, and the less we were given. When we reached _bosquet_ No. 6, the
last stop, we were allowed a discreet sip from a sherry glass, which was
passed on from one to the other like a loving-cup.
We were told that the wines from the years 1862 and 1863 are considered to
be the best. It is strange that they are entirely different from each
other; the first is very sweet and the second is very dry.
What was my surprise to see here, "I know a Lillie fair to see," against
the walls designed in candles. The Princess told me that the Prince had
been a long time making this, and I hope I showed due appreciation of the
compliment. I was immensely flattered.
The wine is the color of amber, or pale yellow, according to the year, and
tastes delicious; the aroma reminds one of sandalwood.
The wines of the best years are only sold in bottles bearing the cachet of
the Prince's arms, and the autograph of the intendant; the color of the
seal denotes the quality. _Cabinet bleu_ is the best that can be bought;
the less fine qualities are sold in barrels.
You will be interested to hear how they gather the grapes. It is very
carefully done: each bunch is picked like a flower, and each grape is
selected with the greatest care; any grape with the slightest imperfection
is discarded. They remain longer on the vines here than anywhere else, so
that the sweetness of the grape is doubly concentrated.
A good year will produce from sixty to eighty thousand bottles, and bring
in an income of one hundred and fifty thousand marks.
The company which built the railroad through the grounds had to pay an
enormous sum for the land, every inch of which is worth its weight in
You may imagine the despair of the intendant when he sees so much of this
valuable land taken for the croquet and tennis games; but the last straw
One of the guests here, Duchess d'Ossuna, is a very striking and handsome
lady who has been a great beauty and is still, though now about forty
years old. Her husband is one of the richest men in Spain, but is in such
wretched health that she has expected hourly to be a widow for many years.
Coming away from the insidious fumes of the wine into the hot air, and
leaving the dark cellars for the glaring broad daylight, made us all feel
a little lightheaded. I noticed that the Archduke had to be gently and
with due discretion aided up the steps.
He dropped into the first available bench and said, solemnly and with
conviction: "To see this wine makes one want to taste it; to taste it
makes one want to drink it; to drink it makes one want to dream."
I hope that you appreciate this profound saying; it ought not to be lost
We left him, thinking he would prefer the society of his adjutant to ours.
I knew that I preferred mine to any one else's, and went to my room,
mounting its winding staircase, which I thought wound more than was
necessary. Taking guests into wine-cellars is the great joke here, and it
Every one was in exuberant spirits at dinner. I wish I could remember half
of the clever things that were said. The corn came on amid screams of
delight. Our hostess ate thirteen ears, which, if reduced to kernels,
would have made about one ordinary ear, there was so much cob and so
little corn. The Princess enjoyed them hugely.
Coffee was served on the terrace. Later we had music in the hall, and
before the departure of the Archduke there was a fine display of fireworks
sent off from the terrace, which must have looked splendid from a
SOMMERBERG, _August, 1874._
DEAR M.,--Prince Emil Wittgenstein and his wife have a pretty villa at
Walhuf, directly on the Rhine, and they invited Helen and me to dine and
spend the night there. Prince Wittgenstein promised to show us some
wonderful manifestations from spiritland. Helen is not a believer, neither
am I, but the Prince thinks I am, and, as Helen could not leave her
guests, I went alone.
The Prince wrote that he had induced, with great difficulty (and probably
with a great deal of expense), the much-talked-of Miss Cook to come with
her sister to pay them a visit at their villa. Miss Cook is the medium
through whom the Empress Josephine and Katie King (a lady unknown to the
world, except as being the daughter of a certain old sea-captain, called
John King, who roamed the seas a hundred years ago and pirated) manifest
I was delighted to have this chance of seeing Miss Cook, because I had
read in the English papers that she had lately been shown up as a gigantic
fraud. At one of her séances in London, just as she was in the act of
materializing in conjunction with the Empress Josephine, a gentleman,
disregarding all rules of etiquette, sprang from the audience and seized
her in his arms; but instead of melting, as a proper spirit would have
done, the incensed Empress screamed and scratched and tore herself away,
actually leaving bits of her raiment in his hands. This rude gentleman
swears that the imperial nails seemed wholly of earthly texture, and that
the scratches were as thorough and lasted as well as if made by any common
Since this incident Miss Cook had thought it wiser to retire into private
life, and has secured a husband calling himself Corner. Prince
Wittgenstein found her, and, wishing to convert his wife, could think of
no better way than to let her see Miss Cook materialize. The wife and her
friend, Princess Croy, are avowed disbelievers.
Our dinner was dull beyond words. There were the Prince Nicholas-Nassau
and his wife; the Duke Esslingen, who is nearly blind, without a wife but
with convictions; Count and Countess de Vay, and the two English ladies
already mentioned. Miss Cook, _alias_ Mrs. Corner, is a washed-out blond,
rather barmaidish-looking English girl of medium (oh dear! I really did
not mean to) height and apparently very anemic.
After dinner we were led into the room in which the séance was to take
place, and were seated round a large table, and told to hold our tongues
and one another's hands; the gas was turned down to the lowest point, the
lamps screwed down, and there we sat and waited and waited.
The poor host was chagrined beyond utterance; something was the matter
with the magnetic current. Sometimes he would tap on the table to attract
the attention of the spirit underneath, but nothing helped; the spirits
were obstinate and remained silent.
I ventured to ask the Duke, by the side of whom I sat and held on to, in
what manner the spirits made known their answers. He said that one knock
meant "yes," no knock meant "no," and two knocks meant "doubtful." At last
we heard a timid knock in the direction of Mrs. Corner. Then every one was
alert. Prince Wittgenstein addressed the spot and whispered in his most
seductive tones, "Dear spirit, will you not manifest yourself?" Two knocks
"Is the company seated right?" (Silence, meaning "no.")
"Is the company congenial?" (Silence.)
To find out who the uncongenial person was, every one asked, in turn, "Is
it I?" until Princess Wittgenstein put the question, upon which came a
vigorous single knock.
"My dear," said the Prince, "I am sorry to say it, but you must go."
So she left, nothing loath. We all thought for sure something would happen
now, but nothing did.
Prince Wittgenstein commenced the same inquiries, whether the company was
now congenial; but it seemed that Princess de Croy was _de trop_, and
she was also obliged to leave the room. (You see, the spirits did not like
to single out the hostess alone.) Now we were reduced to nine believers
with moist hands.
Would the Empress not now appear? We waited long enough for her to make up
her mind; but it seemed that neither her mind nor anything else was ready
to be made up. The spirits were perhaps willing, but the flesh was too
weak. Then Mrs. Corner remembered that at the last sitting the Empress had
declared that she would never appear on German soil (her feelings having
been wounded during the Franco-German War).
There still remained Katie King. We had not heard from her yet. Prince
Wittgenstein addressed the table under his fingers: "Oh, dear spirits, do
do something! Anything would be acceptable!" How could he or she resist
such humble pleadings?
Then some one felt a cold wind pass over his face. Surely something was
"It must be Katie King about to materialize," said the hopeful Prince.
Then we saw a dim light. We strained our eyes to the utmost to discover
what it was. I should have said, if I had been truthful, that to me it
looked like a carefully shaded candle; but I held my tongue. The hand of
my neighbor was fast becoming jelly in mine, and I would have given worlds
to have got my hand out of the current; but I did not dare to interfere
with it, and I continued to hold on to the jelly. Whoever was being
materialized was doing it so slowly, and without any kind of system, that
we hardly had the patience to sit it out. Then a tambourine walked up some
one's arm, Prince Nassau's spectacles were pulled off his august nose by
invisible hands (of course, who else would have dared?), thus making him
more near-sighted than ever. His wife's necklace of turquoises was
unclasped from her neck and hooked on to the neck of the acolyte sister;
but on anxious and repeated demands to have it returned, it was replaced,
much to the owner's relief. Prince Wittgenstein thought it silly of her to
have so little confidence. Suddenly, while necklaces were changing necks,
we saw what looked like a cloud of gauze. We held our breaths, the raps
under the table redoubled, and there were all sorts of by-play, such as
hair-pulling and arm-pinching, but no Katie. The gauze which was going to
be her gave up trying and disappeared altogether. "Never mind," said the
Prince. "It does not matter [I thought so, too.] She will come to-morrow
This was very depressing; even Prince Wittgenstein was utterly discouraged
and decided to break up the séance, and, groping his way to the nearest
lamp, turned it up. We went into the other salon, where we found the two
discarded ladies sitting peacefully before a samovar and playing a game of
Miss Cook told Prince Wittgenstein that Katie King would probably
materialize if she had the promise of getting a sapphire ring which he
wore (a beautiful sapphire). Miss Cook suggested that if this ring could
be hung up on a certain tree in the garden Katie King would come and get
it, and would certainly materialize the next evening. Prince Wittgenstein
was credulous enough to pander to this modest wish, and hung up the
desired ring, hoping Katie King would return it when she was in the flesh.
But Miss Cook had a succession of fainting fits which necessitated her
sudden departure for England, so we never saw Katie King, neither did
Prince Wittgenstein ever get his ring back, as far as I know.
Last Tuesday we three--Count and Countess Westphal and I--left Wiesbaden,
slept at Frankfort, and starting the next morning at eleven o'clock, we
arrived at our destination at 5.00 P.M. We found three carriages; one for
us and two for the maids and luggage. Halfway to the castle we met,
driving the lightest and prettiest of basket-wagons, our host and hostess,
Count and Countess W--; the latter got into the carriage with us and one
of us took her place by the side of the host. We passed through the
village, which had but one street, irregular and narrow, and we were in
constant danger of running over the shoals of little children who stood
stupidly in the middle of it, gazing at us with open eyes and mouth.
The Schloss is a very large, square building, with rounded towers in the
four corners. It has been remodeled, added to, and adorned so many times
that it is difficult to tell to which style of architecture it belongs.
The chapel is in an angle and opens on to the paved courtyard.
Our first evening was spent quietly making acquaintance with the other
guests. The next morning we lunched at eleven o'clock, the gentlemen in
knickerbockers and shooting attire, the ladies in sensible gowns of light
material over silk petticoats. Simplicity is the order of the day. Our
lunch consists of many courses, and we might have lingered for hours if
the sight of the postman coming up the avenue had not given us the excuse
to leave the table and devote ourselves to our correspondence, which had
to be done in double-quick time, as the postman only waited a short
fifteen minutes, long enough to imbibe the welcome cup of coffee or the
glass of beer which he found waiting him in the kitchen. The Countess,
although the mother of a young man twenty-four years of age, has a pink-
and-white complexion and a fine, statuesque figure. She is a Russian lady
by birth, and does a lot of kissing, as seems to be the custom in Russia.
She told me that when a gentleman of a certain position kisses your hand
you must kiss his forehead.
"Isn't this rather cruel toward the ladies?" I said.
"Why," she asked, "do you think it is cruel?"
"Ladies sometimes have on gloves when they give their hands to be kissed,