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My First Years As A Frenchwoman, 1876-1879 by Mary King Waddington

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MY FIRST YEARS AS A
FRENCHWOMAN

[Illustration: Madame Waddington.
From a photograph taken in the year of the Exposition, 1878.]

MY FIRST YEARS AS A
FRENCHWOMAN

1876-1879

BY

MARY KING WADDINGTON

ILLUSTRATED

1914

CONTENTS

I. WHEN MACMAHON WAS PRESIDENT
II. IMPRESSIONS OF THE ASSEMBLY AT VERSAILLES
III. M. WADDINGTON AS MINISTER OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
IV. THE SOCIAL SIDE OF A MINISTER'S WIFE
V. A REPUBLICAN VICTORY AND A NEW MINISTRY
VI. THE EXPOSITION YEAR
VII. THE BERLIN CONGRESS
VIII. GAIETIES AT THE QUAI D'ORSAY
IX. M. WADDINGTON AS PRIME MINISTER
X. PARLIAMENT BACK IN PARIS
XI. LAST DAYS AT THE FOREIGN OFFICE

INDEX

ILLUSTRATIONS

MADAME WADDINGTON _Frontispiece
From a photograph taken in the year of the Exposition_, 1878.

MONSIEUR THIERS

MARSHAL MACMAHON

SITTING OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AT THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES

THE FOYER OF THE OPERA

MEETING OF OFFICERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, AND OF
DELEGATES OF THE NEW CHAMBERS, IN THE SALON OF
HERCULES, PALACE OF VERSAILLES

THEODOR MOMMSEN

PALACE OF THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, PARIS

FRANZ LISZT

WILLIAM E. GLADSTONE

LORD LYONS

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS, EDWARD, PRINCE OF WALES, IN 1876

PRINCE HOHENLOHE

M. WILLIAM WADDINGTON. IN THE UNIFORM HE WORE AS
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND AT THE BERLIN
CONGRESS, 1878

NASR-ED-DIN, SHAH OF PERSIA

PRINCE BISMARCK

THE BERLIN CONGRESS

M. JULES GREVY, READING MARSHAL MACMAHON'S LETTER
OF RESIGNATION TO THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES

M. JULES GREVY ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC BY
THE SENATE AND CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES MEETING AS
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

THE ELYSEE PALACE, PARIS

HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA, ABOUT 1879

M. DE FREYCINET

MME. SADI CARNOT

PRESIDENT SADI CARNOT

MY FIRST YEARS AS A FRENCHWOMAN

I

WHEN MACMAHON WAS PRESIDENT

I was married in Paris in November, 1874, at the French Protestant
Chapel of the rue Taitbout, by Monsieur Bersier, one of the ablest and
most eloquent pastors of the Protestant church. We had just established
ourselves in Paris, after having lived seven years in Rome. We had a
vague idea of going back to America, and Paris seemed a first step in
that direction--was nearer New York than Rome. I knew very little of
France--we had never lived there--merely stayed a few weeks in the
spring and autumn, coming and going from Italy. My husband was a deputy,
named to the National Assembly in Bordeaux in 1871, by his
Department--the Aisne. He had some difficulty in getting to Bordeaux.
Communications and transports were not easy, as the Germans were still
in the country, and, what was more important, he hadn't any
money--couldn't correspond with his banker, in Paris--(he was living in
the country). However, a sufficient amount was found in the country, and
he was able to make his journey. When I married, the Assembly was
sitting at Versailles. Monsieur Thiers, the first President of the
Republic, had been overthrown in May, 1873--Marshal MacMahon named in
his place. W.[1] had had a short ministry (public instruction) under
Monsieur Thiers, but he was so convinced that it would not last that he
never even went to the ministry--saw his directors in his own rooms. I
was plunged at once into absolutely new surroundings. W.'s personal
friends were principally Orleanists and the literary element of
Paris--his colleagues at the Institute. The first houses I was taken to
in Paris were the Segurs, Remusats, Lasteyries, Casimir Periers,
Gallieras, d'Haussonville, Leon Say, and some of the Protestant
families--Pourtales, Andre Bartholdi, Mallet, etc. It was such an
entirely different world from any I had been accustomed to that it took
me some time to feel at home in my new milieu. Political feeling was
very strong--all sorts of fresh, young elements coming to the front.
The Franco-German War was just over--the French very sore and bitter
after their defeat. There was a strong underlying feeling of violent
animosity to the Emperor, who had lost them two of their fairest
provinces, and a passionate desire for the revanche. The feeling was
very bitter between the two branches of the Royalist party, Legitimists
and Orleanists. One night at a party in the Faubourg St. Germain, I saw
a well-known fashionable woman of the extreme Legitimist party turn her
back on the Comtesse de Paris. The receptions and visits were not always
easy nor pleasant, even though I was a stranger and had no ties with any
former government. I remember one of my first visits to a well-known
Legitimist countess in the Faubourg St. Germain; I went on her reception
day, a thing all young women are most particular about in Paris. I found
her with a circle of ladies sitting around her, none of whom I knew.
They were all very civil, only I was astonished at the way the mistress
of the house mentioned my name every time she spoke to me: "Madame
Waddington, etes-vous allee a l'Opera hier soir," "Madame Waddington,
vous montez a cheval tous les matins, je crois," "Monsieur Waddington va
tous les vendredis a l'Institut, il me semble," etc. I was rather
surprised and said to W. when I got home, "How curious it is, that way
of saying one's name all the time; I suppose it is an old-fashioned
French custom. Madame de B. must have said 'Waddington' twenty times
during my rather short visit." He was much amused. "Don't you know why?
So that all the people might know who you were and not say awful things
about the 'infecte gouvernement' and the Republic, 'which no gentleman
could serve.'"

[Footnote 1: "W.," here and throughout this book, refers to Madame
Waddington's husband, M. William Waddington.]

[Illustration: Monsieur Theirs.]

The position of the German Embassy in Paris was very difficult, and
unfortunately their first ambassador after the war, Count Arnim, didn't
understand (perhaps didn't care to) how difficult it was for a
high-spirited nation, which until then had always ranked as a great
military power, to accept her humiliation and be just to the victorious
adversary. Arnim was an unfortunate appointment--not at all the man for
such a delicate situation. We had known him in Rome in the old days of
Pio Nono's reign, where he had a great position as Prussian minister to
the Vatican. He and the Countess Arnim received a great deal, and their
beautiful rooms in the Palazzo Caffarelli, on the top of the Capitol
Hill (the two great statues of Castor and Pollux standing by their
horses looking as if they were guarding the entrance) were a brilliant
centre for all the Roman and diplomatic world. He was a thorough man of
the world, could make himself charming when he chose, but he never had a
pleasant manner, was curt, arrogant, with a very strong sense of his own
superiority. From the first moment he came to Paris as ambassador, he
put people's backs up. They never liked him, never trusted him; whenever
he had an unpleasant communication to make, he exaggerated the
unpleasantness, never attenuated, and there is so much in the way things
are said. The French were very hard upon him when he got into trouble,
and certainly his own Government was merciless to him.

One of my first small difficulties after becoming a Frenchwoman was to
eliminate some of my German friends from my salon. I could not run the
risk of their being treated rudely. I remember so well one night at
home, before I was married, seeing two French officers not in uniform
slip quietly out of the room when one of the German Embassy came in, yet
ours was a neutral house. When my engagement was announced one of my
great friends at the German Embassy (Count Arco) said to me: "This is
the end, I suppose, of our friendship; I can never go to see you when
you are the wife of a French deputy." "Oh, yes, you can still come; not
quite so often, perhaps, but I can't give up my friends." However, we
drifted apart without knowing why exactly. It is curious how long that
hostile feeling toward Germany has lasted in France.

Every year there is a great review of the Paris garrison (thirty
thousand men) by the President of the Republic, at Longchamp, on the
14th of July, the national fete--the day of the storming of the Bastile.
It is a great day in Paris--one of the sights of the year--and falling
in midsummer the day is generally beautiful and very warm. From early
dawn all the chairs and benches along the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne are
crowded with people waiting patiently for hours to see the show. There
is not a seat to be had at Longchamp. Unless one arrives very early the
tribunes are packed, and the President's box very crowded, as he invites
the diplomatic corps and the ministers and their wives on that day. The
troops are always received with much enthusiasm, particularly the
artillery, dragging their light field-pieces and passing at a
gallop--also the battalion of St. Cyr, the great French military school.
The final charge of the cavalry is very fine. Masses of riders come
thundering over the plain, the general commanding in front, stopping
suddenly as if moved by machinery, just opposite the President's box.
I went very regularly as long as W. was in office, and always enjoyed my
day. There was an excellent buffet in the salon behind the box, and it
was pleasant to have a cup of tea and rest one's eyes while the long
columns of infantry were passing--the regular, continuous movement was
fatiguing. All the ambassadors and foreigners were very keen about the
review, paying great attention to the size of the men and horses and
their general equipment. As long as Marshal MacMahon was President of
the Republic, he always rode home after the review down the
Champs-Elysees--in full uniform, with a brilliant staff of foreign
officers and military attaches. It was a pretty sight and attracted
great attention. Some of the foreign uniforms are very striking and the
French love a military show.

[Illustration: Marshal MacMahon.]

For many years after the war the German military attache returned from
the review unobserved in a _shut_ carriage, couldn't run the risk of an
angry or insulting word from some one in the crowd, and still later,
fifteen years after the war, when W. was ambassador in England, I was
godmother of the daughter of a German-English cousin living in London.
The godfather was Count Herbert Bismarck, son of the famous chancellor.
At the time of the christening I was in France, staying with some
friends in the country. The son of the house had been through the war,
had distinguished himself very much, and they were still very sore over
their reverses and the necessity of submitting to all the little
pin-pricks which came at intervals from Germany. Bismarck sent me a
telegram regretting the absence of the godmother from the ceremony. It
was brought to me just after breakfast, while we were having our coffee.
I opened it and read it out, explaining that it was from Bismarck to
express his regret for my absence. There was a dead silence, and then
the mistress of the house said to me: "C'est tres desagreable pour vous,
chere amie, cette association avec Bismarck."

I didn't see much of W. in the daytime. We usually rode in the morning
in the Bois and immediately after breakfast he started for Versailles in
the parliamentary train. Dinner was always a doubtful meal. Sometimes he
came home very late for nine-o'clock dinner; sometimes he dined at
Versailles and only got home at ten or eleven if the sitting was stormy.
The Hotel des Reservoirs did a flourishing business as long as the
Chambers sat at Versailles. When we were dining out it was very
disagreeable, particularly the first winter when I didn't know many
people. I remember one dinner at the Countess Duchatel's where I went
alone; we were ten women and five men. All the rest were deputies, who
had telegraphed at the last moment they would not come, were kept at
Versailles by an important question.

One of the most interesting things I saw in 1873, just before my
marriage, was the court-martial of Marshal Bazaine for treachery at
Metz--giving up his army and the city without any attempt to break
through the enemy's lines, or in fact any resistance of any kind. The
court was held at the Grand Trianon, Versailles, a place so associated
with a pleasure-loving court, and the fanciful devices of a gay young
queen, that it was difficult to realise the drama that was being
enacted, when the honour of a Marshal of France--almost an army of
France, was to be judged. It was an impressive scene, the hall packed,
and people at all the doors and entrances clamouring for seats. The
public was curious, a little of everything--members of the National
Assembly, officers all in uniform, pretty women of all categories--the
group of journalists with keen eager faces watching every change of
expression of the marshal's face--some well-known faces, wives of
members or leading political and literary men, a fair amount of the
frailer sisterhood, actresses and demi-mondaines, making a great effect
of waving plumes and diamonds. The court was presided over by the Duc
d'Aumale, who accepted the office after much hesitation. He was a fine,
soldierly figure as he came in, in full uniform, a group of officers
behind him, all with stern, set faces. The impression of the public was
generally hostile to the marshal; one felt it all through the trial. He
was dressed in full uniform, with the grand cordon of the Legion of
Honour. It was melancholy to hear the report of his career when it was
read by his counsel,--long years of active service, many wounds, often
mentioned for brave conduct under fire, having the "Medaille
Militaire"--the grand cordon of the Legion d'Honneur, the baton de
Marechal de France,--all the honours his country could give him--to end
so miserably, judged not only by the court but by the country, as a
traitor, false to his trust, when his country was in the death-throes of
defeat and humiliation. His attitude at the trial was curious. He sat
very still in his armchair, looking straight before him, only raising
his head and looking at the Duc d'Aumale when some grave accusation was
made against him. His explanation brought the famous reply from the duc,
when he said it was impossible to act or to treat; there was nothing
left in France--no government, no orders--nothing. The due answered:
"Il y avait toujours la France." He didn't look overwhelmed, rather like
some one who was detached from the whole proceedings. I saw his face
quite well; it was neither false nor weak--ordinary. It is difficult to
believe that a French general with a brilliant record behind him should
have been guilty of such treachery, sacrificing his men and his honour.
His friends (they were not many) say he lost his head, was nearly crazy
with the utterly unforeseen defeat of the French, but even a moment of
insanity would hardly account for such extraordinary weakness. W. and
some of his friends were discussing it in the train coming home. They
were all convinced of his guilt, had no doubt as to what the sentence of
the court would be--death and degradation--but thought that physical
fatigue and great depression must have caused a general breakdown. The
end every one knows. He was condemned to be shot and degraded. The first
part of the sentence was cancelled on account of his former services,
but he was degraded, imprisoned, escaped, and finished his life in Spain
in poverty and obscurity, deserted by all his friends and his wife. It
was a melancholy rentree for the Duc d'Aumale. His thoughts must have
gone back to the far-off days when the gallant young officer, fils de
France, won his first military glory in Algiers, and thought the world
was at his feet. His brilliant exploit, capturing the Smala of
Abd-el-Kader, has been immortalised by Vernet in the great historical
picture that one sees at Versailles. There are always artists copying
parts of it, particularly one group, where a lovely, fair-haired woman
is falling out of a litter backward. Even now, when one thinks of the
King Louis Philippe, with all his tall, strong, young sons (there is a
well-known picture of the King on horseback with all his sons around
him--splendid specimens of young manhood), it seems incredible that they
are not still ruling and reigning at the Tuileries. I wonder if things
would have been very different if Louis Philippe and his family had not
walked out of the Tuileries that day!

I often asked W. in what way France had gained by being a republic. I
personally was quite impartial, being born an American and never having
lived in France until after the Franco-Prussian War. I had no particular
ties nor traditions, had no grandfather killed on the scaffold, nor
frozen to death in the retreat of "La Grande Armee" from Moscow. They
always told me a republic was in the air--young talents and energy must
come to the front--the people must have a voice in the government. I
think the average Frenchman is intelligent, but I don't think the vote
of the man in the street can have as much value as that of a man who has
had not only a good education but who has been accustomed always to hear
certain principles of law and order held up as rules for the guidance of
his own life as well as other people's. Certainly universal suffrage was
a most unfortunate measure to take from America and apply to France, but
it has been taken and now must stay. I have often heard political men
who deplored and condemned the law say that no minister would dare to
propose a change.

I went often to the Chamber in the spring--used to drive out and bring
W. home. Versailles was very animated and interesting during all that
time, so many people always about. Quite a number of women followed the
debates. One met plenty of people one knew in the streets, at the
Patissiers, or at some of the bric-a-brac shops, where there were still
bargains to be found in very old furniture, prints, and china. There is
a large garrison. There were always officers riding, squads of soldiers
moving about, bugle-calls in all directions, and continuous arrivals at
the station of deputies and journalists hurrying to the palace, their
black portfolios under their arms. The palace was cold. There was a fine
draught at the entrance and the big stone staircase was always cold,
even in June, but the assembly-room was warm enough and always crowded.
It was rather difficult to get seats. People were so interested in those
first debates after the war, when everything had to be reorganised and
so much of the past was being swept away.

II

IMPRESSIONS OF THE ASSEMBLY AT VERSAILLES

The sittings of the assembly were very interesting in that wonderful
year when everything was being discussed. All public interest of course
was centred in Versailles, where the National Assembly was trying to
establish some sort of stable government. There were endless discussions
and speeches and very violent language in the Chambers. Gambetta made
some bitter attacks on the Royalists, accusing them of mauvaise foi and
want of patriotism. The Bonapartist leaders tried to persuade themselves
and their friends that they still had a hold on the country and that a
plebiscite would bring back in triumph their prince. The Legitimists,
hoping against hope that the Comte de Chambord would still be the
saviour of the country, made passionate appeals to the old feeling of
loyalty in the nation, and the centre droit, representing the
Orleanists, nervous, hesitating, knowing the position perfectly,
ardently desiring a constitutional monarchy, but feeling that it was
not possible at that moment, yet unwilling to commit themselves to a
final declaration of the Republic, which would make a Royalist
restoration impossible. All the Left confident, determined.

The Republic was voted on the 30th of January, 1875, by a majority of
one vote, if majority it could be called, but the great step had been
taken, and the struggle began instantly between the moderate
conservative Republicans and the more advanced Left. W. came home late
that day. Some of his friends came in after dinner and the talk was most
interesting. I was so new to it all that most of the names of the rank
and file were unknown to me, and the appreciations of the votes and the
anecdotes and side-lights on the voters said nothing to me. Looking back
after all these years, it seems to me that the moderate Royalists
(centre droit) threw away a splendid chance. They could not stop the
Republican wave (nothing could) but they might have controlled it and
directed it instead of standing aloof and throwing the power into the
hands of the Left. We heard the well-known sayings very often those
days: "La Republique sera conservatrice ou elle ne sera pas" and "La
Republique sans Republicains," attributed to M. Thiers and Marshal
MacMahon. The National Assembly struggled on to the end of the year,
making a constitution, a parliament with two houses, senate and chamber
of deputies, with many discussions and contradictions, and hopes and
illusions.

[Illustration: Sitting of the National Assembly at the palace of
Versailles. From _l'Illustration_, March 11, 1876]

I went often to Versailles, driving out when the weather was fine. I
liked the stormy sittings best. Some orator would say something that
displeased the public, and in a moment there would be the greatest
uproar, protestations and accusations from all sides, some of the
extreme Left getting up, gesticulating wildly, and shaking their fists
at the speaker--the Right, generally calm and sarcastic, requesting the
speaker to repeat his monstrous statements--the huissiers dressed in
black with silver chains, walking up and down in front of the tribune,
calling out at intervals: "Silence, messieurs, s'il vous plait,"--the
President ringing his bell violently to call the house to order, and
nobody paying the slightest attention,--the orator sometimes standing
quite still with folded arms waiting until the storm should abate,
sometimes dominating the hall and hurling abuse at his adversaries. W.
was always perfectly quiet; his voice was low, not very strong, and he
could not speak if there were an uproar. When he was interrupted in a
speech he used to stand perfectly still with folded arms, waiting for a
few minutes' silence. The deputies would call out: "Allez! allez!"
interspersed with a few lively criticisms on what he was saying to them;
he was perfectly unmoved, merely replied: "I will go on with pleasure as
soon as you will be quiet enough for me to be heard." Frenchmen
generally have such a wonderful facility of speech, and such a pitiless
logic in discussing a question, that the debates were often very
interesting. The public was interesting too. A great many women of all
classes followed the sittings--several Egerias (not generally in their
first youth) of well-known political men sitting prominently in the
President's box, or in the front row of the journalists' box, following
the discussions with great interest and sending down little slips of
paper to their friends below--members' wives and friends who enjoyed
spending an hour or two listening to the speeches--newspaper
correspondents, literary ladies, diplomatists. It was very difficult to
get places, particularly when some well-known orators were announced to
speak upon an important question. We didn't always know beforehand, and
I remember some dull afternoons with one or two members making long
speeches about purely local matters, which didn't interest any one. We
looked down upon an almost empty hall on those occasions. A great many
of the members had gone out and were talking in the lobbies; those who
remained were talking in groups, writing letters, walking about the
hall, quite unconscious apparently of the speaker at the tribune. I
couldn't understand how the man could go on talking to empty benches,
but W. told me he was quite indifferent to the attention of his
colleagues,--his speech was for his electors and would appear the next
day in the _Journal Officiel_. I remember one man talked for hours about
"allumettes chimiques."

Leon Say was a delightful speaker, so easy, always finding exactly the
word he wanted. It hardly seemed a speech when he was at the tribune,
more like a causerie, though he told very plain truths sometimes to the
peuple souverain. He was essentially French, or rather Parisian, knew
everybody, and was au courant of all that went on politically and
socially, and had a certain blague, that eminently French quality which
is very difficult to explain. He was a hard worker, and told me once
that what rested him most after a long day was to go to a small
boulevard theatre or to read a rather lively yellowbacked novel.

I never heard Gambetta speak, which I always regretted--in fact knew
very little of him. He was not a ladies' man, though he had some devoted
women friends, and was always surrounded by a circle of political men
whenever he appeared in public. (In all French parties, immediately
after dinner, the men all congregate together to talk to each
other,--never to the women,--so unless you happen to find yourself
seated next to some well-known man, you never really have a chance of
talking to him.) Gambetta didn't go out much, and as by some curious
chance he was never next to me at dinner, I never had any opportunity of
talking to him. He was not one of W.'s friends, nor an habitue of the
house. His appearance was against him--dark, heavy-looking, with an
enormous head.

When I had had enough of the speeches and the bad atmosphere, I used to
wander about the terraces and gardens. How many beautiful sunsets I have
seen from the top of the terrace or else standing on the three famous
pink marble steps (so well known to all lovers of poetry through Alfred
de Musset's beautiful verses, "Trois Marches Roses"), seeing in
imagination all the brilliant crowd of courtiers and fair women that
used to people those wonderful gardens in the old days of Versailles! I
went sometimes to the "Reservoirs" for a cup of tea, and very often
found other women who had also driven out to get their husbands. We
occasionally brought back friends who preferred the quiet cool drive
through the Park of St. Cloud to the crowd and dust of the railway. The
Count de St. Vallier (who was not yet senator, but deeply interested in
politics) was frequently at Versailles and came back with us often. He
was a charming, easy talker. I never tired of hearing about the
brilliant days of the last Empire, and the fetes at the Tuileries,
Compiegne, and St. Cloud. He had been a great deal at the court of
Napoleon III, had seen many interesting people of all kinds, and had a
wonderful memory. He must have had an inner sense or presentiment of
some kind about the future, for I have heard him say often in speaking
of the old days and the glories of the Empire, when everything seemed so
prosperous and brilliant, that he used often to ask himself if it could
be real--Were the foundations as solid as they seemed! He had been a
diplomatist, was in Germany at the time of the Franco-German War, and
like so many of his colleagues scattered over Germany, was quite aware
of the growing hostile feeling in Germany to France and also of
Bismarck's aims and ambitions. He (like so many others) wrote repeated
letters and warnings to the French Foreign Office, which apparently had
no effect. One heard afterward that several letters of that description
from French diplomatists in Germany were found unopened in a drawer at
the ministry.

It was rather sad, as we drove through the stately alleys of the Park of
St. Cloud, with the setting sun shining through the fine old trees, to
hear of all the fetes that used to take place there,--and one could
quite well fancy the beautiful Empress appearing at the end of one of
the long avenues, followed by a brilliant suite of ladies and
ecuyers,--and the echoes of the cor de chasse in the distance. The
alleys are always there, and fairly well kept, but very few people or
carriages pass. The park is deserted. I don't think the cor de chasse
would awaken an echo or a regret even, so entirely has the Empire and
its glories become a thing of the past. A rendezvous de chasse was a
very pretty sight.

We went once to Compiegne before I was married, about three years before
the war. We went out and breakfasted at Compiegne with a great friend of
ours, M. de St. M., a chamberlain or equerry of the Emperor. We
breakfasted in a funny old-fashioned little hotel (with a very good
cuisine) and drove in a big open break to the forest. There were a great
many people riding, driving, and walking, officers of the garrison in
uniform, members of the hunt in green and gold, and a fair sprinkling of
red coats. The Empress looked charming, dressed always in the uniform of
the hunt, green with gold braid, and a tricorne on her head,--all her
ladies with the same dress, which was very becoming. One of the most
striking-looking of her ladies was the Princess Anna Murat, the present
Duchesse de Mouchy, who looked very handsome in the tricorne and
beautifully fitting habit. I didn't see the Empress on her horse, as we
lost sight of them very soon. She and her ladies arrived on the field in
an open break. I saw the Emperor quite distinctly as he rode up and gave
some orders. He was very well mounted (there were some beautiful horses)
but stooped slightly, and had rather a sad face. I never saw him again,
and the Empress only long years after at Cowes, when everything had gone
out of her life.

The President, Marshal MacMahon, was living at the Prefecture at
Versailles and received every Thursday evening. We went there several
times--it was my first introduction to the official world. The first two
or three times we drove out, but it was long (quite an hour and a
quarter) over bad roads--a good deal of pavement. One didn't care to
drive through the Park of St. Cloud at night--it was very lonely and
dark. We should have been quite helpless if we had fallen upon any
enterprising tramps, who could easily have stopped the carriage and
helped themselves to any money or jewels they could lay their hands on.
One evening the Seine had overflowed and we were obliged to walk a long
distance--all around Sevres--and got to Versailles very late and quite
exhausted with the jolting and general discomfort. After that we went
out by train--which put us at the Prefecture at ten o'clock. It wasn't
very convenient as there was a great rush for carriages when we arrived
at Versailles, still everybody did it. We generally wore black or dark
dresses with a lace veil tied over our heads, and of course only went
when it was fine. The evening was pleasant enough--one saw all the
political men, the marshal's personal friends of the droite went to him
in the first days of his presidency,--(they rather fell off later)--the
Government and Republicans naturally and all the diplomatic corps. There
were not many women, as it really was rather an effort to put one's self
into a low-necked dress and start off directly after dinner to the Gare
St. Lazare, and have rather a rush for places. We were always late, and
just had time to scramble into the last carriage.

I felt very strange--an outsider--all the first months, but my husband's
friends were very nice to me and after a certain time I was astonished
to find how much politics interested me. I learned a great deal from
merely listening while the men talked at dinner. I suppose I should have
understood much more if I had read the papers regularly, but I didn't
begin to do that until W. had been minister for some time, and then
worked myself into a nervous fever at all the opposition papers said
about him. However, all told, the attacks were never very vicious. He
had never been in public life until after the war when he was named
deputy and joined the Assemblee Nationale at Bordeaux--which was an
immense advantage to him. He had never served any other government, and
was therefore perfectly independent and was bound by no family
traditions or old friendships--didn't mind the opposition papers at
all--not even the caricatures. Some of them were very funny. There was
one very like him, sitting quite straight and correct on the box of a
brougham, "John Cocher Anglais n'a jamais verse, ni accroche" (English
coachman who has never upset nor run into anything).

There were a few political salons. The Countess de R. received every
evening--but only men--no women were ever asked. The wives rather
demurred at first, but the men went all the same--as one saw every one
there and heard all the latest political gossip. Another hostess was the
Princess Lize Troubetskoi. She was a great friend and admirer of
Thiers--was supposed to give him a great deal of information from
foreign governments. She was very eclectic in her sympathies, and every
one went to her, not only French, but all foreigners of any distinction
who passed through Paris. She gave herself a great deal of trouble for
her friends, but also used them when she wanted anything. One of the
stories which was always told of the Foreign Office was her "petit
paquet," which she wanted to send by the valise to Berlin, when the
Comte de St. Vallier was French ambassador there. He agreed willingly to
receive the package addressed to him, which proved to be a grand piano.

The privilege of sending packages abroad by the valise of the foreign
affairs was greatly abused when W. became Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He made various changes, one of which was that the valise should be
absolutely restricted to official papers and documents, which really was
perhaps well observed.

The Countess de Segur received every Saturday night. It was really an
Orleanist salon, as they were devoted friends of the Orleans family, but
one saw all the moderate Republicans there and the centre gauche (which
struggled so long to keep together and be a moderating influence, but
has long been swallowed up in the ever-increasing flood of radicalism)
and a great many literary men, members of the Institute, Academicians,
etc. They had a fine old house entre cour et jardin, with all sorts of
interesting pictures and souvenirs. Countess de S. also received every
day before three o'clock. I often went and was delighted when I could
find her alone. She was very clever, very original, had known all sorts
of people, and it was most interesting to hear her talk about King Louis
Philippe's court, the Spanish marriages, the death of the Duc d'Orleans,
the Coup d'Etat of Louis Napoleon, etc. When she first began to receive,
during the reign of Louis Philippe, the feeling was very bitter between
the Legitimists (extreme Royalist party) and the Orleanists. The Duc
d'Orleans often came to them on Saturday evenings and always in a good
deal of state, with handsome carriage, aides-de-camp, etc. She warned
her Legitimist friends when she knew he was coming (but she didn't
always know) and said she never had any trouble or disagreeable scenes.
Every one was perfectly respectful to the duke, but the extreme
Legitimists went away at once.

We went quite often to Monsieur and Madame Thiers, who received every
evening in their big gloomy house in the Place St. Georges. It was a
political centre,--all the Republican party went there, and many of his
old friends, Orleanists, who admired his great intelligence, while
disapproving his politics,--literary men, journalists, all the
diplomatists and distinguished strangers. He had people at dinner every
night and a small reception afterward,--Madame Thiers and her sister,
Mademoiselle Dosne, doing the honours for him. I believe both ladies
were very intelligent, but I can't truthfully say they had any charm of
manner. They never looked pleased to see any one, and each took
comfortable little naps in their armchairs after dinner--the first
comers had sometimes rather embarrassing entrances,--but I am told they
held very much to their receptions. Thiers was wonderful; he was a very
old man when I knew him, but his eyes were very bright and keen, his
voice strong, and he would talk all the evening without any appearance
of fatigue. He slept every afternoon for two hours, and was quite rested
and alert by dinner time. It was an interesting group of men that stood
around the little figure in the drawing-room after dinner. He himself
stood almost always leaning against the mantelpiece. Prince Orloff,
Russian ambassador, was one of the habitues of the salon, and I was
always delighted when he would slip away from the group of men and join
the ladies in Madame Thiers's salon, which was less interesting. He knew
everybody, French and foreign, and gave me most amusing and useful
little sketches of all the celebrities. It was he who told me of old
Prince Gortschakoff's famous phrase when he heard of Thiers's death--(he
died at St. Germain in 1877)--"Encore une lumiere eteinte quand il y en
a si peu qui voient clair,"--(still another light extinguished, when
there are so few who see clearly). Many have gone of that
group,--Casimir Perier, Leon Say, Jules Ferry, St. Vallier, Comte Paul
de Segur, Barthelemy St. Hilaire,--but others remain, younger men who
were then beginning their political careers and were eager to drink in
lessons and warnings from the old statesman, who fought gallantly to
the last.

I found the first winter in Paris as the wife of a French deputy rather
trying, so different from the easy, pleasant life in Rome. That has
changed, too, of course, with United Italy and Rome the capital, but it
was a small Rome in our days, most informal. I don't ever remember
having written an invitation all the years we lived in Rome. Everybody
led the same life and we saw each other all day, hunting, riding,
driving, in the villas in the afternoon, generally finishing at the
Pincio, where there was music. All the carriages drew up and the young
men came and talked to the women exactly as if they were at the opera or
in a ballroom. When we had music or danced at our house, we used to tell
some well-known man to say "on danse chez Madame King ce soir." That was
all. Paris society is much stiffer, attaches much more importance to
visits and reception days.

There is very little informal receiving, no more evenings with no
amusement of any kind provided, and a small table at one end of the room
with orangeade and cakes, which I remember when I was first married (and
always in Lent the quartet of the Conservatoire playing classical
symphonies, which of course put a stop to all conversation, as people
listened to the artists of the Conservatoire in a sort of sacred
silence). Now one is invited each time, there is always music or a
comedie, sometimes a conference in Lent, and a buffet in the
dining-room. There is much more luxury, and women wear more jewels.
There were not many tiaras when I first knew Paris society; now every
young woman has one in her corbeille.

[Illustration: The foyer of the Opera.]

One of the first big things I saw in Paris was the opening of the Grand
Opera. It was a pretty sight, the house crowded with women beautifully
dressed and wearing fine jewels which showed very little, the decoration
of the house being very elaborate. There was so much light and gilding
that the diamonds were quite lost. The two great features of the evening
were the young King of Spain (the father of the present King), a slight,
dark, youthful figure, and the Lord Mayor of London, who really made
much more effect than the King. He was dressed in his official robes,
had two sheriffs and a macebearer, and when he stood at the top of the
grand staircase he was an imposing figure and the public was delighted
with him. He was surrounded by an admiring crowd when he walked in the
foyer. Everybody was there and W. pointed out to me the celebrities of
all the coteries. We had a box at the opera and went very regularly. The
opera was never good, never has been since I have known it, but as it is
open all the year round, one cannot expect to have the stars one hears
elsewhere. Still it is always a pleasant evening, one sees plenty of
people to talk to and the music is a cheerful accompaniment to
conversation. It is astounding how they talk in the boxes and how the
public submits. The ballet is always good. Halanzier was director of the
Grand Opera, and we went sometimes to his box behind the scenes, which
was most amusing. He was most dictatorial, occupied himself with every
detail,--was consequently an excellent director. I remember seeing him
inspect the corps de ballet one night, just before the curtain went up.
He passed down the line like a general reviewing his troops, tapping
lightly with a cane various arms and legs which were not in position. He
was perfectly smiling and good-humoured: "Voyons, voyons, mes petites,
ce n'est pas cela,"--but saw everything.

What W. liked best was the Theatre Francais. We hadn't a box there, but
as so many of our friends had, we went very often. Tuesday was the
fashionable night and the Salle was almost as interesting as the stage,
particularly if it happened to be a premiere, and all the critics and
journalists were there. Sarah Bernhardt and Croizette were both playing
those first years. They were great rivals and it was interesting to see
them in the same play, both such fine talents yet so totally different.

III

M. WADDINGTON AS MINISTER OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION

In March, 1876, W. was made, for the second time, "Ministre de
l'Instruction Publique et des Beaux Arts," with M. Dufaure President du
Conseil, Duc Decazes at the Foreign Office, and Leon Say at the
finances. His nomination was a surprise to us. We didn't expect it at
all. There had been so many discussions, so many names put forward. It
seemed impossible to come to an understanding and form a cabinet which
would be equally acceptable to the marshal and to the Chambers. I came
in rather late one afternoon while the negotiations were going on, and
was told by the servants that M. Leon Say was waiting in W.'s library to
see him. W. came a few minutes afterward, and the two gentlemen remained
a long time talking. They stopped in the drawing-room on their way to
the door, and Say said to me: "Eh bien, madame, je vous apporte une
portefeuille et des felicitations." "Before I accept the felicitations,
I would like to know which portfolio." Of course when he said, "Public
instruction," I was pleased, as I knew it was the only one W. cared for.
My brother-in-law, Richard Waddington, senator of the Seine
Inferieure,[1] and one or two friends came to see us in the evening, and
the gentlemen talked late into the night, discussing programmes,
possibilities, etc. All the next day the conferences went on, and when
the new cabinet was presented to the marshal, he received them
graciously if not warmly. W. said both Dufaure and Decazes were quite
wonderful, realising the state of affairs exactly, and knowing the
temper of the house, which was getting more advanced every day and more
difficult to manage.

[Footnote 1: My brother-in-law, Richard Waddington, senator, died in
June, 1913, some time after these notes were written.]

W. at once convoked all the officials and staff of the ministry. He made
very few changes, merely taking the young Count de Lasteyrie, now
Marquis de Lasteyrie, grandnephew of the Marquis de Lafayette, son of M.
Jules de Lasteyrie, a senator and devoted friend of the Orleans family,
as his chef de cabinet. Two or three days after the new cabinet was
announced, W. took me to the Elysee to pay my official visit to the
Marechale de MacMahon. She received us up-stairs in a pretty salon
looking out on the garden. She was very civil, not a particularly
gracious manner--gave me the impression of a very energetic, practical
woman--what most Frenchwomen are. I was very much struck with her
writing-table, which looked most businesslike. It was covered with
quantities of letters, papers, cards, circulars of all kinds--she
attended to all household matters herself. I always heard (though she
did not tell me) that she read every letter that was addressed to her,
and she must have had hundreds of begging letters. She was very
charitable, much interested in all good works, and very kind to all
artists. Whenever a letter came asking for money, she had the case
investigated, and if the story was true, gave practical help at once. I
was dismayed at first with the number of letters received from all over
France asking my intercession with the minister on every possible
subject from a "monument historique" to be restored, to a pension given
to an old schoolmaster no longer able to work, with a large family to
support. It was perfectly impossible for me to answer them. Being a
foreigner and never having lived in France, I didn't really know
anything about the various questions. W. was too busy to attend to such
small matters, so I consulted M. de L., chef de cabinet, and we agreed
that I should send all the correspondence which was not strictly
personal to him, and he would have it examined in the "bureau." The
first few weeks of W.'s ministry were very trying to me--I went to see
so many people,--so many people came to see me,--all strangers with whom
I had nothing in common. Such dreary conversations, never getting beyond
the most ordinary commonplace phrases,--such an absolutely different
world from any I had ever lived in.

It is very difficult at first for any woman who marries a foreigner to
make her life in her new country. There must be so many things that are
different--better perhaps sometimes--but not what one has been
accustomed to,--and I think more difficult in France than in any other
country. French people are set in their ways, and there is so little
sympathy with anything that is not French. I was struck with that
absence of sympathy at some of the first dinners I went to. The talk was
exclusively French, almost Parisian, very personal, with stories and
allusions to people and things I knew nothing about. No one dreamed of
talking to me about my past life--or America, or any of my early
associations--yet I was a stranger--one would have thought they might
have taken a little more trouble to find some topics of general
interest. Even now, after all these years, the difference of
nationality counts. Sometimes when I am discussing with very intimate
friends some question and I find that I cannot understand their views
and they cannot understand mine, they always come back to the real
difficulty: "Ecoutez, chere amie, vous etes d'une autre race." I rather
complained to W. after the first three or four dinners--it seemed to me
bad manners, but he said no, I was the wife of a French political
man, and every one took for granted I was interested in the
conversation--certainly no one intended any rudeness. The first big
dinner I went to that year was at the Elysee--the regular official
dinner for the diplomatic corps and the Government. I had Baron von
Zuylen, the Dutch minister, one of our great friends, on one side of me,
Leon Renault, prefet de police, on the other. Leon Renault was very
interesting, very clever--an excellent prefet de police. Some of his
stories were most amusing. The dinner was very good (always were in the
marshal's time), not long, and mercifully the room was not too hot.
Sometimes the heat was terrible. There were quite a number of people in
the evening--the music of the garde republicaine playing, and a buffet
in the dining-room which was always crowded. We never stayed very late,
as W. always had papers to sign when we got home. Sometimes when there
was a great press of work his "signatures" kept him two hours. I don't
think the marshal enjoyed the receptions very much. Like most soldiers
he was an early riser, and the late hours and constant talking
tired him.

I liked our dinners and receptions at the ministry. All the intelligence
of France passed through our rooms. People generally came early--by ten
o'clock the rooms were quite full. Every one was announced, and it was
most interesting to hear the names of all the celebrities in every
branch of art and science. It was only a fleeting impression, as the
guests merely spoke to me at the door and passed on. In those days,
hardly any one shook hands unless they were fairly intimate--the men
never. They made me low bows some distance off and rarely stopped to
exchange a few words with me. Some of the women, not many, shook hands.
It was a fatiguing evening, as I stood so long, and a procession of
strangers passed before me. The receptions finished early--every one had
gone by eleven o'clock except a few loiterers at the buffet. There are
always a certain number of people at the big official receptions whose
principal object in coming seems to be to make a comfortable meal. The
servants always told me there was nothing left after a big party. There
were no invitations--the reception was announced in the papers, so any
one who felt he had the slightest claim upon the minister appeared at
the party. Some of the dresses were funny, but there was nothing
eccentric--no women in hats, carrying babies in their arms, such as one
used to see in the old days in America at the President's reception at
the White House, Washington--some very simple black silk dresses hardly
low--and of course a great many pretty women very well dressed. Some of
my American friends often came with true American curiosity, wanting to
see a phase of French life which was quite novel to them.

W. remained two years as Minister of Public Instruction, and my life
became at once very interesting, very full. We didn't live at the
ministry--it was not really necessary. All the work was over before
dinner, except the "signatures," which W. could do just as well in his
library at home. We went over and inspected the Hotel du Ministere in
the rue de Grenelle before we made our final decision, but it was not
really tempting. There were fine reception-rooms and a pretty garden,
but the living-rooms were small, not numerous, and decidedly gloomy. Of
course I saw much less of W. He never came home to breakfast, except on
Sunday, as it was too far from the rue de Grenelle to the Etoile. The
Arc de Triomphe stands in the Place de l'Etoile at the top of the
Champs-Elysees. All the great avenues, Alma, Jena, Kleber, and the
adjacent streets are known as the Quartier de l'Etoile. It was before
the days of telephones, so whenever an important communication was to be
made to him when he was at home in the evening, a dragoon galloped up
with his little black bag from which he extracted his papers. It made
quite an excitement in our quiet street the first time he arrived after
ten o'clock. We just managed our morning ride, and then there were often
people waiting to speak to W. before we started, and always when he came
back. There was a great amount of patronage attached to his ministry,
nominations to all the universities, lycees, schools, etc., and, what
was most agreeable to me, boxes at all the government theatres,--the
Grand Opera, Opera Comique, Francais, Odeon, and Conservatoire. Every
Monday morning we received the list for the week, and, after making
our own selection, distributed them to the official world
generally,--sometimes to our own personal friends. The boxes of the
Francais, Opera, and Conservatoire were much appreciated.

I went very regularly to the Sunday afternoon concerts at the
Conservatoire, where all classical music was splendidly given. They
confined themselves generally to the strictly classic, but were
beginning to play a little Schumann that year. Some of the faces of the
regular habitues became most familiar to me. There were three or four
old men with grey hair sitting in the first row of stalls (most
uncomfortable seats) who followed every note of the music, turning
around and frowning at any unfortunate person in a box who dropped a fan
or an opera-glass. It was funny to hear the hum of satisfaction when any
well-known movement of Beethoven or Mozart was attacked. The orchestra
was perfect, at its best I think in the "scherzos" which they took in
beautiful style--so light and sure. I liked the instrumental part much
better than the singing. French voices, the women's particularly, are
thin, as a rule. I think they sacrifice too much to the
"diction,"--don't bring out the voices enough--but the style and
training are perfect of their kind.

The Conservatoire is quite as much a social feature as a school of
music. It was the thing to do on Sunday afternoon. No invitation was
more appreciated, as it was almost impossible to have places unless one
was invited by a friend. All the boxes and seats (the hall is small)
belong to subscribers and have done so for one or two generations. Many
marriages are made there. There are very few theatres in Paris to which
girls can be taken, but the Opera Comique and the Conservatoire are very
favourite resorts. When a marriage is pending the young lady, very well
dressed (always in the simplest tenue de jeune fille) is taken to the
Conservatoire or the Opera Comique by her father and mother, and very
often her grandmother. She sits in front of the box and the young man in
the stalls, where he can study his future wife without committing
himself. The difference of dress between the jeune fille and the jeune
femme is very strongly marked in France. The French girl never wears
lace or jewels or feathers or heavy material of any kind, quite unlike
her English or American contemporaries, who wear what they like. The
wedding-dress is classic, a simple, very long dress of white satin, and
generally a tulle veil over the face. When there is a handsome lace veil
in the family, the bride sometimes wears it, but no lace on her dress.
The first thing the young married woman does is to wear a very long
velvet dress with feathers in her hair.

I think on the whole the arranged marriages turn out as well as any
others. They are generally made by people of the same monde, accustomed
to the same way of living, and the fortunes as nearly alike as possible.
Everything is calculated. The young couple usually spend the summer with
parents or parents-in-law, in the chateau, and I know some cases where
there are curious details about the number of lamps that can be lighted
in their rooms, and the use of the carriage on certain days. I am
speaking of course of purely French marriages. To my American ideas it
seemed very strange when I first came to Europe, but a long residence in
a foreign country certainly modifies one's impressions. Years ago, when
we were living in Rome, four sisters, before any of us were married, a
charming Frenchwoman, Duchesse de B., who came often to the house, was
very worried about this family of girls, all very happy at home and
contented with their lives. It was quite true we danced and hunted and
made a great deal of music, without ever troubling ourselves about the
future. The duchesse couldn't understand it, used often to talk to
mother very seriously. She came one day with a proposal of marriage--a
charming man, a Frenchman, not too young, with a good fortune, a title,
and a chateau, had seen Madam King's daughters in the ballroom and
hunting-field, and would very much like to be presented and make his
cour. "Which one?" we naturally asked, but the answer was vague. It
sounded so curiously impersonal that we could hardly take it seriously.
However, we suggested that the young man should come and each one of the
four would show off her particular talent. One would play and one would
sing (rather like the song in the children's book, "one could dance and
one could sing, and one could play the violin"), and the third, the
polyglot of the family, could speak several languages. We were rather
puzzled as to what my eldest sister could do, as she was not very
sociable and never spoke to strangers if she could help it, so we
decided she must be very well dressed and preside at the tea-table
behind an old-fashioned silver urn that we always used--looking like a
stately maitresse de maison receiving her guests. We confided all these
plans to the duchesse, but she was quite put out with us, wouldn't bring
the young man nor tell us his name. We never knew who he was. Since I
have been a Frenchwoman (devant la loi)--I think all Americans remain
American no matter where they marry,--I have interested myself three or
four times in made marriages, which have generally turned out well.
There were very few Americans married in France all those years, now
there are legions of all kinds. I don't remember any in the official
parliamentary world I lived in the first years of my marriage--nor
English either. It was absolutely French, and rather borne French. Very
few of the people, the women especially, had any knowledge or experience
of foreign countries, and didn't care to have,--France was enough
for them.

W. was very happy at the Ministry of Public Instruction,--all the
educational questions interested him so much and the tournees en
province and visits to the big schools and universities,--some of them,
in the south of France particularly, singularly wanting in the most
elementary details of hygiene and cleanliness, and it was very difficult
to make the necessary changes, giving more light, air, and space.
Routine is a powerful factor in this very conservative country, where so
many things exist simply because they have always existed. Some of his
letters from Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Montpellier were most interesting.
As a rule he was very well received and got on very well, strangely
enough, with the clergy, particularly the haut clerge, bishops and
cardinals. His being a Protestant was rather a help to him; he could
take an impartial view of things.

At Bordeaux he stayed at the Prefecture, where he was very comfortable,
but the days were fatiguing. He said he hadn't worked so hard for years.
He started at nine in the morning, visiting schools and universities,
came home to breakfast at twelve, and immediately after had a small
reception, rectors, professors, and people connected with the schools he
wanted to talk to, at three started again seeing more schools and going
conscientiously over the buildings from basement to garret,--then visits
to the cardinal, archbishop, general commanding, etc.--a big dinner and
reception in the evening, the cardinal present in his red robes, his
coadjutor in purple, the officers in uniform, and all the people
connected in any way with the university, who were pleased to see their
chief. There was a total absence of Bonapartist senators and deputies
(which was not surprising, as W. had always been in violent opposition
to the Empire), who were rather numerous in these parts. W. was really
quite exhausted when he got back to Paris--said it was absolute luxury
to sit quietly and read in his library, and not talk. It wasn't a luxury
that he enjoyed very much, for whenever he was in the house there was
always some one talking to him in his study and others waiting in the
drawing-room. Every minute of the day he was occupied. People were
always coming to ask for something for themselves or some members of
their family, always candidates for the Institute, anxiously inquiring
what their chances were, and if he had recommended them to his friends.
It is striking even in this country of functionaries (I think there are
more small public employees in France than in any other country) how
many applicants there were always for the most insignificant places--a
Frenchman loves a cap with gold braid and gilt buttons on his coat.

All the winter of 1876, which saw the end of the National Assembly and
the beginning of a new regime, was an eventful one in parliamentary
circles. I don't know if the country generally was very much excited
about a new constitution and a change of government. I don't think the
country in France (the small farmers and peasants) are ever much excited
about the form of government. As long as the crops are good and there is
no war to take away their sons and able-bodied men, they don't care,
often don't know, whether a king or an emperor is reigning over them.
They say there are some far-off villages half hidden in the forests and
mountains who still believe that a king and a Bourbon is reigning in
France. Something had to be decided; the provisoire could no longer
continue; the country could not go on without a settled government. All
the arguments and negotiations of that period have been so often told,
that I will not go into any details. The two centres, centre droit and
centre gauche, had everything in their hands as the great moderating
elements of the Assembly, but the conflicting claims of the various
parties, Legitimist, Orleanist, Bonapartist, and advanced Left, made the
question a very difficult one.

W. as a member of the Comite des Trente was very much occupied and
preoccupied. He came back generally very late from Versailles, and, when
he did dine at home, either went out again after dinner to some of the
numerous meetings at different houses or had people at home. I think the
great majority of deputies were honestly trying to do what they thought
best for the country, and when one remembers the names and personalities
on both sides--MacMahon, Broglie, d'Audiffret-Pasquier, Buffet, Dufaure,
and Thiers, Casimir Perier, Leon Say, Jules Simon, Jules Ferry,
Freycinet, and many others, it is impossible to think that any of those
men were animated by any spirit other than love of the country and an
ardent desire to see some stable government restored which would enable
France to take her place again among the great powers. Unfortunately the
difference of opinion as to the form of government made things very
difficult. Some of the young deputies, just fresh from the war and
smarting under a sense of humiliation, were very violent in their abuse
of any Royalist and particularly Bonapartist restoration.

[Illustration: Meeting of officers of the National Assembly, and of
delegates of the new Chambers, in the salon of Hercules, palace of
Versailles. From _L'Illustration_, March 11. 1876.]

IV

THE SOCIAL SIDE OF A MINISTER'S WIFE

My first big dinner at the Ministry of Public Instruction rather
intimidated me. We were fifty people--I the only lady. I went over to
the ministry in the afternoon to see the table, which was very well
arranged with quantities of flowers, beautiful Sevres china, not much
silver--there is very little left in France, it having all been melted
at the time of the Revolution. The official dinners are always well done
in Paris. I suppose the traditions of the Empire have been handed down.
We arrived a few minutes before eight, all the staff and directors
already there, and by ten minutes after eight every one had arrived. I
sat between Gerome, the painter, and Renan, two very different men but
each quite charming,--Gerome tall, slight, animated, talking very easily
about everything. He told me who a great many of the people were, with a
little commentary on their profession and career which was very useful
to me, as I knew so few of them. Renan was short, stout, with a very
large head, almost unprepossessing-looking, but with a great charm of
manner and the most delightful smile and voice imaginable. He often
dined with us in our own house, en petit comite, and was always
charming. He was one of those happy mortals (there are not many) who
made every subject they discuss interesting.

After that first experience, I liked the big men's dinners very much.
There was no general conversation; I talked exclusively to my two
neighbours, but as they were always distinguished in some branch of art,
science, or literature, the talk was brilliant, and I found the hour our
dinner lasted a very short one. W. was very particular about not having
long dinners. Later, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where we
sometimes had eighty guests, the dinner was never over an hour. I did
not remain the whole evening at the men's dinners. As soon as they
dispersed to talk and smoke, I came away, leaving W. to entertain his
guests. We often had big receptions with music and comedie. At one of
our first big parties we had several of the Orleans family. I was rather
nervous, as I had never received royalty,--in fact I had never spoken to
a royal prince or princess. I had lived a great deal in Rome, as a girl,
during the last days of Pius IX, and I was never in Paris during the
Empire. When we went back to Rome one winter, after the accession of
King Victor Emmanuel, I found myself for the first time in a room with
royalties, the Prince and Princesse de Piemont. I remember quite well
being so surprised by seeing two of the Roman men we knew very well come
backward into the ballroom where we were sitting. I thought they must be
anticipating the Mardi Gras and were masquerading a little, didn't
realise that every one was standing. I remained sitting for a moment
(much to the horror of one of the English secretaries who was with us
and who thought we were going to make a spread-eagle American
demonstration and remain sitting when royalty appeared). However, by
some sort of instinct, we rose too (perhaps to see what was going on),
just as the princes passed. Princess Marguerite looked charming, dressed
in white, with her splendid pearls and beautiful fair hair.

When it was decided that we should ask the Orleans princes to our party,
I thought I would go to see the Duc Decazes, the foreign minister, a
charming man and charming colleague, to get some precise information
about my part of the entertainment. He couldn't think what I wanted when
I invaded his cabinet, and was much amused when I stated my case.

"There is nothing unusual in receiving the princes at a ministry. You
must do as you have always done."

"But that is just the question, I have _never done_. I have never in my
life exchanged a word with a royal personage."

"It is not possible!"

"It is absolutely true; I have never lived anywhere where there was a
court."

When he saw that I was in earnest he was as nice as possible, told me
_exactly_ what I wanted to know,--that I need not say "Altesse royale"
every time I spoke, merely occasionally, as they all like it,--that I
must speak in the third person, "Madame veut-elle," "Monseigneur veut-il
me permettre," etc., also that I must always be at the door when a
princess arrived and conduct her myself to her seat.

"But if I am at one end of the long enfilade of rooms taking the
Comtesse de Paris to her seat and another princess (Joinville or
Chartres) should arrive; what has to be done?"

"Your husband must always be at the door with his chef de cabinet, who
will replace him while he takes the princess to her place."

The Marquise de L., a charming old lady with white hair, beautiful blue
eyes, and pink cheeks, a great friend of the Orleans family, went with
me when I made my round of visits to thank the royal ladies for
accepting our invitation. We found no one but the Princesse Marguerite,
daughter of the Duc de Nemours, who was living at Neuilly. I had all my
instructions from the marquise, how many courtesies to make, how to
address her, and above all not to speak until the princess spoke to me.
We were shown into a pretty drawing-room, opening on a garden, where the
princess was waiting, standing at one end of the room. Madame de L.
named me, I made my courtesies, the princess shook hands, and then we
remained standing, facing each other. She didn't say anything. I stood
perfectly straight and quiet, waiting. She changed colour, moved her
hands nervously, was evidently overcome with shyness, but didn't utter a
sound. It seemed very long, was really only a few seconds, but I was
getting rather nervous when suddenly a child ran across the garden. That
broke the ice and she asked me the classic royal question, "Avez-vous
des enfants, madame?" I had only one, and he was rather small, but still
his nurse, his teeth, and his food carried me on for a little while and
after that we had some general conversation, but I can't say the visit
was really interesting. As long as I was in public life I regretted
that I had but the one child,--children and nurseries and schoolrooms
were always an unfailing topic of conversation. Frenchwomen of all
classes take much more interest in the details of their nurseries and
the education and bringing-up of their children than we Anglo-Saxons do.
I know several mammas who followed all the course of their sons' studies
when they were preparing their baccalaureat, even to writing the
compositions. The head nurse (English) who takes entire charge of her
nursery, who doesn't like any interference, and brings the children to
their mother at stated hours, doesn't exist in France.

Our party was very brilliant, all sorts of notabilities of all kinds,
and the leading Paris artists from the Grand Opera, Opera Comique, and
the Francais. As soon as the performance was over W. told me I must go
and thank the artists; he could not leave his princes. I started off to
the last of the long suite of salons where they were all assembled.
Comte de L., W.'s chef de cabinet, went with me, and we were preceded by
a huissier with sword and chain, who piloted us through the crowd. I
felt very shy when I arrived in the greenroom. The artists were drawn up
in two rows, the women on one side, the men on the other, all eyes of
course fixed upon madame la ministresse. Madame Carvalho, Sarah
Bernhardt, and Croizette were standing at the head of the long line of
women; Faure, Talazac, Delaunay, Coquelin, on the other side. I went
first all along the line of women, then came back by the men. I realised
instantly after the first word of thanks and interest how easy it is for
princes, or any one in high places, to give pleasure. They all responded
so smilingly and naturally to everything I said. After the first two or
three words, I didn't mind at all, and found myself discussing
acoustics, the difficulty of playing any well-known part without
costumes, scenery, etc., the inconvenience of having the public so near,
quite easily. We often had music and recitations at our parties, and
that was always a great pleasure to me. I remember so well one evening
when we had the chorus of the Conservatoire and they sang quite
beautifully the old "Plaisirs d'Amour" of our childhood. It had a great
success and they were obliged to repeat it. W. made one great innovation
in the dress of the ladies of the Conservatoire chorus. They were always
dressed in white, which was very well for the young, slight figures, but
was less happy for a stout middle-aged lady. So after much discussion it
was decided to adopt black as the official dress and I must say it was
an enormous improvement.

THE SOCIAL SIDE

All sorts of interesting people came to see us at the Ministry of Public
Instruction,--among others the late Emperor of Brazil, Don Pedro de
Bragance, who spent some months in Paris that year with his daughter,
the young Comtesse d'Eu. He was a tall, good-looking man, with a
charming easy manner, very cultivated and very keen about
everything--art, literature, politics. His gentlemen said he had the
energy of a man of twenty-five, and he was well over middle age when he
was in Paris. They were quite exhausted sometimes after a long day of
visits and sightseeing with him. He was an early riser. One of the first
rendezvous he gave W. was at nine o'clock in the morning, which greatly
disturbed that gentleman's habits. He was never an early riser, worked
always very late (said his best despatches were written after midnight),
and didn't care about beginning his day too early. Another interesting
personality was Mommsen, the German historian and savant. He was a
picturesque-looking old man with keen blue eyes and a quantity of white
hair. I don't think anything modern interested him very much. He was an
old man when I first saw him, and looked even older than his age. He and
W. used to plunge into very long, learned discussions over antiquities
and medals. W. said the hours with Mommsen rested him, such a change
from the "shop" talk always mixed with politics in France.

We often had political breakfasts at home (more breakfasts than
dinners). Our Aisne deputies and senators were not very mondains, didn't
care much to dine out. They were pleasant enough when they talked about
subjects that interested them. Henri Martin, senator of the Aisne, was
an old-fashioned Republican, absolutely convinced that no other
government would ever succeed in France, but he was moderate. St.
Vallier, also a senator from the Aisne, was nervous and easily
discouraged when things didn't go smoothly, but he too thought the
Republic was the only possible government now, whatever his preferences
might have been formerly.

W.'s ministry came to an end on the famous 16th of May, 1877, when
Marshal MacMahon suddenly took matters in his own hands and dismissed
his cabinet presided over by M. Jules Simon. Things had not been going
smoothly for some time, could not between two men of such absolute
difference of origin, habits, and ideas. Still, the famous letter
written by the marshal to Jules Simon was a thunderclap. I was walking
about the Champs-Elysees and Faubourg St. Honore on the morning of the
16th of May, and saw all the carriages, our own included, waiting at the
Ministry of the Interior, where the conseil was sitting. I went home to
breakfast, thought W. was later than usual, but never dreamed of what
was happening. When he finally appeared, quite composed and smiling,
with his news, "We are out of office; the marshal has sent us all about
our business," I could hardly believe it, even when he told me all the
details. I had known for a long time that things were not going well,
but there were always so much friction and such opposing elements in the
cabinet that I had not attached much importance to the accounts of
stormy sittings and thought things would settle down.

[Illustration: Theodor Mommsen. From a painting by Franz von Lenbach.]

W. said the marshal was very civil to him, but it was evident that he
could not stand Jules Simon any longer and the various measures that he
felt were impending. We had many visitors after breakfast, all much
excited, wondering what the next step would be--if the Chambers would be
dissolved, the marshal trying to impose a cabinet of the Right or
perhaps form another moderate liberal cabinet without Jules Simon, but
retaining some of his ministers. It was my reception afternoon, and
while I was sitting quietly in my drawing-room talking to some of my
friends, making plans for the summer, quite pleased to have W. to
myself again, the butler hurried into the room telling me that the
Marechale de MacMahon was on the stairs, coming to make me a visit. I
was very much surprised, as she never came to see me. We met very
rarely, except on official occasions, and she made no secret of her
dislike to the official Republican ladies (but she was always absolutely
correct if not enthusiastic). I had just time to get to the head of the
stairs to receive her. She was very amiable, a little embarrassed, took
a cup of tea--said the marshal was very sorry to part with W., he had
never had any trouble or disagreement with him of any kind, but that it
was impossible to go on with a cabinet when neither party had any
confidence in the other. I quite agreed, said it was the fortunes of
war; I hoped the marshal would find another premier who would be more
sympathetic with him, and then we talked of other things.

My friends were quite amused. One of them, Marquise de T., knew the
Marechale quite well, and said she was going to ask her if she was
obliged to make visites de condoleance to the wives of all the fallen
ministers. W. was rather astonished when I told him who had come to tea
with me, and thought the conversation must have been difficult. I told
him, not at all, once the necessary phrases about the departing
ministers were over. The piano was open, music littered about; she was
fond of music and she admired very much a portrait of father as a boy in
the Harrow dress, asked who it was and what the dress was. She was a
perfect woman of the world, and no one was uncomfortable.

It seemed quite strange and very pleasant to take up my old life again
after two years of public life. W. breakfasted at home, went to the
Senate every day and to the Institute on Fridays and we dined with our
friends and had small dinners in our own house instead of official
banquets at all the ministries (usually from Potel and Chabot at so much
a head). Politics were very lively all summer. The Chambers were
dissolved almost at once after the constitution of the new cabinet,
presided over by the Duc de Broglie. It was evident from the first
moment that the new ministry wouldn't, couldn't live. (The Duc de
Broglie was quite aware of the fact. His first words on taking office
were: "On nous a jetes a l'eau, maintenant il faut nager.") He made a
very good fight, but he had that worst of all faults for a leader, he
was unpopular. He was a brilliant, cultured speaker, but had a curt,
dictatorial manner, with an air always of looking down upon his public.
So different from his colleague, the Duc Decazes, whose charming,
courteous manners and nice blue eyes made him friends even among his
adversaries. There is a well-known story told of the two dukes which
shows exactly the personality of the men. Some one, a deputy I think,
wanted something very much which either of the gentlemen could give. He
went first to the Duc Decazes, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, who
received him charmingly, was most kind and courteous, but didn't do what
the man wanted. He then went to the Duc de Broglie, President du
Conseil, who was busy, received him very curtly, cut short his
explanations, and was in fact extremely disagreeable but did the thing,
and the man loved Decazes and hated de Broglie. All sorts of rumours
were afloat; we used to hear the wildest stories and plans. One day W.
came in looking rather preoccupied. There was an idea that the Right
were going to take most stringent measures, arrest all the ministers,
members of Jules Simon's cabinet, many of the prominent Liberals. He
said it was quite possible and then gave me various instructions. I was
above all to make no fuss if they really came to arrest him. He showed
me where all his keys, papers, and money were, told me to go instantly
to his uncle, Mr. Lutteroth, who lived next door. He was an old
diplomat, knew everybody, and would give me very good advice. I did not
feel very happy, but like so many things that are foretold, nothing
ever happened.

Another rumour, from the extreme Left this time, was that a large armed
force under the command of a well-known general, very high up in his
career, was to assemble in the north at Lille, a strong contingent of
Republicans were to join them to be ready to act. I remember quite well
two of W.'s friends coming in one morning, full of enthusiasm for this
plan. I don't think they quite knew what they were going to do with
their army. W. certainly did not. He listened to all the details of the
plan; they gave him the name of the general, supposed to have very
Republican sympathies (not generally the case with officers), the number
of regiments, etc., who would march at a given signal, but when he said,
"It is possible, you might get a certain number of men together, but
what would you do with them?" they were rather nonplussed. They hadn't
got any further than a grand patriotic demonstration, with the military,
drums beating, flags flying, and the Marseillaise being howled by an
excited crowd. No such extreme measures, however, were ever carried
out. From the first moment it was evident that a large Republican
majority would be returned; almost all the former deputies were
re-elected and a number of new ones, more advanced in their opinion. In
the country it was the only topic of conversation.

Parliament was dissolved in June, 1877, but we remained in town until
the end of July. It wasn't very warm and many people remained until the
end of the session. The big schools too only break up on the 15th of
July, and many parents remain in Paris. The Republican campaign had
already begun, and there were numerous little dinners and meetings when
plans and possibilities were discussed. W. got back usually very late
from Versailles. When he knew the sitting would be very late he sent me
word and I used to go and dine with mother, but sometimes he was kept on
there from hour to hour. I had some long waits before we could dine, and
Hubert, the coachman, used to spend hours in the courtyard of the Gare
St. Lazare waiting for his master. We had a big bay mare, a very fast
trotter, which always did the train service, and the two were stationed
there sometimes from six-thirty to nine-thirty, but they never seemed
the worse for it. W., though a very considerate man for his servants
generally, never worried at all about keeping his coachmen and horses
waiting. He said the coachmen were the most warmly dressed men in Paris,
always took care to be well covered, and we never had fancy,
high-stepping horses, but ordinary strong ones, which could wait
patiently. W. said the talk in the Chambers and in the lobbies was quite
wild--every sort of extravagant proposition was made. There were many
conferences with the Duc d'Audiffret-Pasquier, Duc de Broglie--with
Casimir Perier, Leon Say, Gambetta, Jules Ferry, and Freycinet--where
the best men on both sides tried hard to come to an agreement. W. went
several times in August to see M. Thiers, who was settled at St.
Germain. The old statesman was as keen as ever, receiving every day all
sorts of deputations, advising, warning, encouraging, and quite
confident as to the result of the elections. People were looking to him
as the next President, despite his great age. However, he was not
destined to see the triumph of his ideas. He died suddenly at St.
Germain on the 3d of September. W. said his funeral was a remarkable
sight--thousands of people followed the cortege--all Paris showing a
last respect to the liberateur du territoire (though there were still
clubs where he was spoken of as le sinistre vieillard). In August W.
went to his Conseil-General at Laon, and I went down to my
brother-in-law's place at St. Leger near Rouen. We were a very happy
cosmopolitan family-party. My mother-in-law was born a Scotch-woman
(Chisholm). She was a fine type of the old-fashioned cultivated lady,
with a charming polite manner, keenly interested in all that was going
on in the world. She was an old lady when I married, and had outlived
almost all her contemporaries, but she had a beautiful old age,
surrounded by children and grandchildren. She had lived through many
vicissitudes from the time of her marriage, when she arrived at the
Chateau of St. Remy in the Department of Eure-et-Loire (where my
husband, her eldest son, was born), passing through triumphal arches
erected in honour of the young bride, to the last days when the fortunes
of the family were diminished by revolutions and political and business
crises in France. They moved from St. Remy, selling the chateau, and
built a house on the top of a green hill near Rouen, quite shut in by
big trees, and with a lovely view from the Rond Point--the highest part
of the garden, over Rouen--with the spires of the cathedral in the
distance. I used to find her every morning when I went to her room,
sitting at the window, her books and knitting on a table near--looking
down on the lawn and the steep winding path that came up from the
garden,--where she had seen three generations of her dear ones pass
every day--first her husband, then her sons--now her grandsons. My
sister-in-law, R.'s wife, was also an Englishwoman; the daughter of the
house had married her cousin, de Bunsen, who had been a German
diplomatist, and who had made nearly all his career in Italy, at the
most interesting period of her history, when she was struggling for
emancipation from the Austrian rule and independence. I was an American,
quite a new element in the family circle. We had many and most animated
discussions over all sorts of subjects, in two or three languages, at
the tea-table under the big tree on the lawn. French and English were
always going, and often German, as de Bunsen always spoke to his
daughter in German. My mother-in-law, who knew three or four languages,
did not at all approve of the careless habit we had all got into of
mixing our languages and using French or Italian words when we were
speaking English--if they came more easily. She made a rule that we
should use only one language at meals--she didn't care which one, but we
must keep to it. My brother-in-law was standing for the deputation. We
didn't see much of him in the daytime--his electors and his visits and
speeches and banquets de pompiers took up all his time. The beginning
of his career had been very different. He was educated in England--Rugby
and Woolwich--and served several years in the Royal Artillery in the
British army. His military training was very useful to him during the
Franco-Prussian War, when he equipped and commanded a field battery,
making all the campaign. His English brother officers always remembered
him. Many times when we were living in England at the embassy, I was
asked about him. A curious thing happened in the House of Lords one day,
showing the wonderful memory of princes for faces. R. was staying with
us for a few days, when the annual debate over the bill for marriage of
a deceased wife's sister came up. The Prince of Wales (late King Edward)
and all the other princes were present in the House. R. was there too,
standing where all the strangers do, at the entrance of the lobby. When
the debate was over, the Prince of Wales left. As he passed along, he
shook hands with several gentlemen also standing near the lobby,
including R. He stopped a moment in front of him, saying: "I think this
is Mr. Waddington. The last time I saw you, you wore Her Majesty's
uniform." He hadn't seen him for twenty-five or thirty years. I asked
the prince afterward how he recognised him. He said he didn't know; it
was perhaps noticing an unfamiliar face in the group of men standing
there,--and something recalled his brother, the ambassador.

In September we went down to Bourneville and settled ourselves there for
the autumn. W. was standing for the Senate with the Count de St. Vallier
and Henri Martin. They all preferred being named in their department,
where everybody knew them and their personal influence could make itself
more easily felt. W.'s campaign was not very arduous. All the people
knew him and liked him--knew that he would do whatever he promised.
Their programme was absolutely Republican, but moderate, and he only
made a few speeches and went about the country a little. I often went
with him when he rode, and some of our visits to the farmers and local
authorities were amusing if not encouraging. We were always very well
received, but it wasn't easy to find out what they really thought (if
they did think about it at all) of the state of affairs. The small
landowners particularly, the men who had one field and a garden, were
very reserved. They listened attentively enough to all W. had to say. He
was never long, never personal, and never abused his adversaries, but
they rarely expressed an opinion. They almost always turned the
conversation upon some local matter or petty grievance. It didn't seem
to me that they took the slightest interest in the extraordinary changes
that were going on in France. A great many people came to see W. and
there would be a curious collection sometimes in his library at the end
of the day. The doctor (who always had precise information--country
doctors always have--they see a great many people and I fancy the women
talk to them and tell them what their men are doing), one or two
farmers, some schoolmasters, the mayors of the nearest villages, the
captains of the firemen and of the archers (they still shoot with bow
and arrow in our part of the country; every Sunday the men practise
shooting at a target)--the gendarmes, very useful these too to bring
news--the notary, and occasionally a sous-prefet, but then he was a
personage, representing the Government, and was treated with more
ceremony than the other visitors. It was evident from all these sources
that the Republicans were coming to the front en masse.

The Republicans (for once) were marvellously disciplined and kept
together. It was really wonderful when one thought of all the different
elements that were represented in the party. There was quite as much
difference between the quiet moderate men of the Left Centre and the
extreme Left as there was between the Legitimists and any faction of the
Republican party. There was a strong feeling among the Liberals that
they were being coerced, that arbitrary measures, perhaps a coup d'etat,
would be sprung upon them, and they were quite determined to resist. I
don't think there was ever any danger of a coup d'etat, at least as long
as Marshal MacMahon was the chief of state. He was a fine honourable,
patriotic soldier, utterly incapable of an illegality of any kind. He
didn't like the Republic, honestly thought it would never succeed with
the Republicans (la Republique sans Republicains was for him its only
chance)--and he certainly had illusions and thought his friends and
advisers would succeed in making and keeping a firm conservative
government. How far that illusion was shared by his entourage it is
difficult to say. They fought their battle well--government pressure
exercised in all ways. Prefets and sous-prefets changed, wonderful
prospects of little work and high pay held out to doubtful electors, and
the same bright illusive promises made to the masses, which all parties
make in all elections and which the people believe each time. The
Republicans were not idle either, and many fiery patriotic speeches
were made or their side. Gambetta always held his public with his
passionate, earnest declamation, and his famous phrase, that the marshal
must "se soumettre ou se demettre," became a password all through
the country.

V

A REPUBLICAN VICTORY AND A NEW MINISTRY

The elections took place in October-November, 1877, and gave at once a
great Republican majority. W. and his two colleagues, Count de St.
Vallier and Henri Martin, had an easy victory, but a great many of their
personal friends, moderates, were beaten. The centres were decidedly
weaker in the new Chambers. There was not much hope left of uniting the
two centres, Droite et Gauche, in the famous "fusion" which had been a
dream of the moderate men.

The new Chambers assembled at Versailles in November. The Broglie
cabinet was out, but a new ministry of the Right faced the new
Parliament. Their life was very short and stormy; they were really dead
before they began to exist and in December the marshal sent for M.
Dufaure and charged him to form a Ministere de Gauche. None of his
personal friends, except General Borel at the War Office, was in the new
combination. W. was named to the Foreign Office. I was rather
disappointed when he came home and told me he had accepted that
portfolio. I thought his old ministry, Public Instruction, suited him so
well, the work interested him, was entirely to his taste. He knew all
the literary and educational world, not only in France but everywhere
else--England, of course, where he had kept up with many of his
Cambridge comrades, and Germany, where he also had literary connections.
However, that wide acquaintance and his perfect knowledge of English and
English people helped him very much at once, not only at the Quai
d'Orsay, but in all the years he was in England as ambassador.

The new ministry, with Dufaure as President of the Council, Leon Say at
the Finances, M. de Freycinet at Public Works, and W. at the Foreign
Office was announced the 14th of December, 1877. The preliminaries had
been long and difficult--the marshal and his friends on one side--the
Republicans and Gambetta on the other--the moderates trying to keep
things together. Personally, I was rather sorry W. had agreed to be a
member of the cabinet; I was not very keen about official life and
foresaw a great deal that would be disagreeable. Politics played such a
part in social life. All the "society," the Faubourg St. Germain (which
represents the old names and titles of France), was violently opposed to
the Republic. I was astonished the first years of my married life in
France, to see people of certain position and standing give the cold
shoulder to men they had known all their lives because they were
Republicans, knowing them quite well to be honourable, independent
gentlemen, wanting nothing from the Republic--merely trying to do their
best for the country. I only realised by degrees that people held off a
little from me sometimes, as the wife of a Republican deputy. I didn't
care particularly, as I had never lived in France, and knew very few
people, but it didn't make social relations very pleasant, and I should
have been better pleased if W. had taken no active part. However, that
feeling was only temporary. I soon became keenly interested in politics
(I suppose it is in the blood--all the men in my family in America were
politicians) and in the discussion of the various questions which were
rapidly changing France into something quite different. Whether the
change has been for the better it would be hard to say even now, after
more than thirty-five years of the Republic.

Freycinet was a great strength. He was absolutely Republican, but
moderate--very clever and energetic, a great friend of Gambetta's--and
a beautiful speaker. I have heard men say who didn't care about him
particularly, and who were not at all of his way of thinking, that they
would rather not discuss with him. He was sure to win them over to his
cause with his wonderful, clear persuasive arguments.

[Illustration: Palace of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paris.]

The first days were very busy ones. W. had to see all his staff (a very
large one) of the Foreign Office, and organise his own cabinet. He was
out all day, until late in the evening, at the Quai d'Orsay; used to go
over there about ten or ten-thirty, breakfast there, and get back for a
very late dinner, and always had a director or secretary working with
him at our own house after dinner. I went over three or four times to
inspect the ministry, as I had a presentiment we should end by living
there. The house is large and handsome, with a fine staircase and large
high rooms. The furniture of course was "ministerial"--stiff and
heavy--gold-backed chairs and sofas standing in rows against the walls.
There were some good pictures, among others the "Congres de Paris,"
which occupies a prominent place in one of the salons, and splendid
tapestries. The most attractive thing was a fine large garden at the
back, but, as the living-rooms were up-stairs, we didn't use it very
much. The lower rooms, which opened on the gardens, were only used as
reception-rooms. The minister's cabinet was also down-stairs,
communicating by a small staircase with his bedroom, just overhead. The
front of the house looks on the Seine; we had always a charming view
from the windows, at night particularly, when all the little steamers
(mouches) were passing with their lights. I had of course to make
acquaintance with all the diplomatic corps. I knew all the ambassadors
and most of the ministers, but there were some representatives of the
smaller powers and South American Republics with whom I had never come
in contact. Again I paid a formal official visit to the Marechale de
MacMahon as soon as the ministry was announced. She was perfectly polite
and correct, but one felt at once she hadn't the slightest sympathy for
anything Republican, and we never got to know each other any better all
the months we were thrown together. We remained for several weeks at our
own house, and then most reluctantly determined to install ourselves at
the ministry. W. worked always very late after dinner, and he felt it
was not possible to ask his directors, all important men of a certain
age, to come up to the Quartier de l'Etoile at ten o'clock and keep them
busy until midnight. W.'s new chef de cabinet, Comte de Pontecoulant,
was very anxious that we should move, thought everything would be
simplified if W. were living over there. I had never known Pontecoulant
until W. chose him as his chef de cabinet. He was a diplomatist with
some years of service behind him, and was perfectly au courant of all
the routine and habits of the Foreign Office. He paid me a short formal
visit soon after he had accepted the post; we exchanged a few remarks
about the situation, I hoped we would faire bon menage, and had no
particular impression of him except that he was very French and stiff; I
didn't suppose I should see much of him. It seems curious now to look
back upon that first interview. We all became so fond of him, he was a
loyal, faithful friend, was always ready to help me in any small
difficulties, and I went to him for everything--visits, servants,
horses, etc. W. had no time for any details or amenities of life. We
moved over just before New Year's day. As the gros mobilier was already
there, we only took over personal things, grand piano, screens, tables,
easy chairs, and small ornaments and bibelots. These were all sent off
in a van early one morning, and after luncheon I went over, having given
rendezvous to Pontecoulant and M. Kruft, chef du materiel, an
excellent, intelligent man, who was most useful and devoted to me the
two years I lived at the ministry. I was very depressed when we drove
into the courtyard. I had never lived on that side of the river, and
felt cut off from all my belongings,--the bridge a terror, so cold in
winter, so hot in summer,--I never got accustomed to it, never crossed
it on foot. The sight of the great empty rooms didn't reassure me. The
reception-rooms of course were very handsome. There were a great many
servants, huissiers, and footmen standing about, and people waiting in
the big drawing-room to speak to W. The living-rooms up-stairs were
ghastly--looked bare and uncomfortable in the highest degree. They were
large and high and looked down upon the garden, though that on a bleak
December day was not very cheerful--but there were possibilities. Kruft
was very sympathetic, understood quite well how I felt, and was ready to
do anything in the way of stoves, baths, wardrobes in the lingerie, new
carpets, and curtains, that I wanted. Pontecoulant too was eminently
practical, and I was quite amused to find myself discussing lingeries
and bathrooms with a total stranger whom I had only seen twice in my
life. It took me about a week to get really settled. I went over every
day, returning to my own house to eat and sleep. Kruft did wonders; the
place was quite transformed when I finally moved over. The rooms looked
very bright and comfortable when we arrived in the afternoon of the 31st
of December (New Year's eve). The little end salon, which I made my
boudoir, was hung with blue satin; my piano, screens, and little things
were very well placed--plenty of palms and flowers, bright fires
everywhere--the bedrooms, nursery, and lingeries clean and bright. My
bedroom opened on a large salon, where I received usually, keeping my
boudoir for ourselves and our intimate friends. My special huissier,
Gerard, who sat all day outside of the salon door, was presented to me,
and instantly became a most useful and important member of the
household--never forgot a name or a face, remembered what cards and
notes I had received, whether the notes were answered, or the bills
paid, knew almost all my wardrobe, would bring me down a coat or a wrap
if I wanted one suddenly down-stairs. I had frequent consultations with
Pontecoulant and Kruft to regulate all the details of the various
services before we were quite settled. We took over all our own servants
and found many others who were on the permanent staff of the ministry,
footmen, huissiers, and odd men who attended to all the fires, opened
and shut all the doors, windows, and shutters. It was rather difficult
to organise the regular working service, there was such rivalry between
our own personal servants and the men who belonged to the house, but
after a little while things went pretty smoothly. W. dined out the first
night we slept at the Quai d'Orsay, and about an hour after we had
arrived, while I was still walking about in my hat and coat, feeling
very strange in the big, high rooms, I was told that the lampiste was
waiting my orders (a few lamps had been lit in some of the rooms). I
didn't quite know what orders to give, hadn't mastered yet the number
that would be required; but I sent for him, said I should be alone for
dinner, perhaps one or two lamps in the dining-room and small salon
would be enough. He evidently thought that was not at all sufficient,
wanted something more precise, so I said to light as he had been
accustomed to when the Duc Decazes and his family were dining alone
(which I don't suppose they ever did, nor we either when we once took up
our life). Such a blaze of light met my eyes when I went to dinner that
I was quite bewildered--boudoir, billiard-room, dining-room (very large,
the small round table for one person hardly perceptible), and corridors
all lighted "a giorno." However, it looked very cheerful and kept me
from feeling too dreadfully homesick for my own house and familiar
surroundings. The rooms were so high up that we didn't hear the noise of
the street, but the river looked alive and friendly with the lights on
the bridges, and a few boats still running.

We had much more receiving and entertaining to do at the Quai d'Orsay
than at any other ministry, and were obliged to go out much more
ourselves. The season in the official world begins with a reception at
the President's on New Year's day. The diplomatic corps and presidents
of the Senate and Chamber go in state to the Elysee to pay their
respects to the chief of state--the ambassadors with all their staff in
uniform in gala carriages. It is a pretty sight, and there are always a
good many people waiting in the Faubourg St. Honore to see the
carriages. The English carriage is always the best; they understand all
the details of harness and livery so much better than any one else. The
marshal and his family were established at the Elysee. It wasn't
possible for him to remain at Versailles--he couldn't be so far from
Paris, where all sorts of questions were coming up every day, and he was
obliged to receive deputations and reports, and see people of all kinds.
They were already agitating the question of the Parliament coming back
to Paris. The deputies generally were complaining of the loss of time
and the discomfort of the daily journey even in the parliamentary train.
The Right generally was very much opposed to having the Chambers back in
Paris. I never could understand why. I suppose they were afraid that a
stormy sitting might lead to disturbances. In the streets of a big city
there is always a floating population ready to espouse violently any
cause. At Versailles one was away from any such danger, and, except
immediately around the palace, there was nobody in the long, deserted
avenues. They often cited the United States, how no statesman after the
signing of the Declaration of Independence (in Philadelphia) would have
ventured to propose that the Parliament should sit in New York or
Philadelphia, but the reason there was very different; they were obliged
to make a neutral zone, something between the North and the South. The
District of Columbia is a thing apart, belonging to neither side. It has
certainly worked very well in America. Washington is a fine city, with
its splendid old trees and broad avenues. It has a cachet of its own, is
unlike any other city I know in the world.

The marshal received at the Elysee every Thursday evening--he and his
staff in uniform, also all the officers who came, which made a brilliant
gathering. Their big dinners and receptions were always extremely well
done. Except a few of their personal friends, not many people of society
were present--the diplomatic corps usually very well represented, the
Government and their wives, and a certain number of liberal deputies--a
great many officers. We received every fifteen days, beginning with a
big dinner. It was an open reception, announced in the papers. The
diplomats always mustered very strong, also the Parliament--not many
women. Many of the deputies remained in the country, taking rooms merely
while the Chambers were sitting, and their wives never appeared in
Paris. "Society" didn't come to us much either, except on certain
occasions when we had a royal prince or some very distinguished
foreigners. Besides the big official receptions, we often had small
dinners up-stairs during the week. Some of these I look back to with
much pleasure. I was generally the only lady with eight or ten men, and
the talk was often brilliant. Some of our habitues were the late Lord
Houghton, a delightful talker; Lord Dufferin, then ambassador in St.
Petersburg; Sir Henry Layard, British ambassador in Spain, an
interesting man who had been everywhere and seen and known everybody
worth knowing in the world; Count Schouvaloff, Russian ambassador in
London, a polished courtier, extremely intelligent; he and W. were
colleagues afterward at the Congres de Berlin, and W. has often told me
how brilliantly he defended his cause; General Ignatieff, Prince Orloff,
the nunzio Monsignor Czascki, quite charming, the type of the prelat
mondain, very large (though very Catholic) in his ideas, but never
aggressive or disagreeable about the Republic, as so many of the clergy
were. He was very fond of music, and went with me sometimes to the
Conservatoire on Sunday; he had a great admiration for the way they
played classical music; used to lean back in his chair in a corner
(would never sit in front of the box) and drink in every sound.

We sometimes had informal music in my little blue salon. Baron de
Zuylen, Dutch minister, was an excellent musician, also Comte de Beust,
the Austrian ambassador. He was a composer. I remember his playing me
one day a wedding march he had composed for the marriage of one of the
archdukes. It was very descriptive, with bells, cannon, hurrahs, and a
nuptial hymn--rather difficult to render on a piano--but there was a
certain amount of imagination in the composition. The two came often
with me to the Conservatoire. Comte de Beust brought Liszt to me one
day. I wanted so much to see that complex character, made up of
enthusiasms of all kinds, patriotic, religious, musical. He was dressed
in the ordinary black priestly garb, looked like an ascetic with pale,
thin face, which lighted up very much when discussing any subject that
interested him. He didn't say a word about music, either then or on a
subsequent occasion when I lunched with him at the house of a great
friend and admirer, who was a beautiful musician. I hoped he would play
after luncheon. He was a very old man, and played rarely in those days,
but one would have liked to hear him. Madame M. thought he would perhaps
for her, if the party were not too large, and the guests "sympathetic"
to him. I have heard so many artists say it made all the difference to
them when they felt the public was with them--if there were one
unsympathetic or criticising face in the mass of people, it was the only
face they could distinguish, and it affected them very much. The piano
was engagingly open and music littered about, but he apparently didn't
see it. He talked politics, and a good deal about pictures with some
artists who were present.

[Illustration: Franz Liszt.]

I did hear him play many years later in London. We were again lunching
together, at the house of a mutual friend, who was not at all musical.
There wasn't even a piano in the house, but she had one brought in for
the occasion. When I arrived rather early, the day of the party, I found
the mistress of the house, aided by Count Hatzfeldt, then German
ambassador to England, busily engaged in transforming her drawing-room.
The grand piano, which had been standing well out toward the middle of
the room, open, with music on it (I dare say some of Liszt's own--but I
didn't have time to examine), was being pushed back into a corner, all
the music hidden away, and the instrument covered with photographs,
vases of flowers, statuettes, heavy books, all the things one doesn't
habitually put on pianos. I was quite puzzled, but Hatzfeldt, who was a
great friend of Liszt's and knew all his peculiarities, when consulted
by Madame A. as to what she could do to induce Liszt to play, had
answered: "Begin by putting the piano in the furthest, darkest corner of
the room, and put all sorts of heavy things on it. Then he won't think
you have asked him in the hope of hearing him play, and perhaps we can
persuade him." The arrangements were just finished as the rest of the
company arrived. We were not a large party, and the talk was pleasant
enough. Liszt looked much older, so colourless, his skin like ivory,
but he seemed just as animated and interested in everything. After
luncheon, when they were smoking (all of us together, no one went into
the smoking-room), he and Hatzfeldt began talking about the Empire and
the beautiful fetes at Compiegne, where anybody of any distinction in
any branch of art or literature was invited. Hatzfeldt led the
conversation to some evenings when Strauss played his waltzes with an
entrain, a sentiment that no one else has ever attained, and to
Offenbach and his melodies--one evening particularly when he had
improvised a song for the Empress--he couldn't quite remember it. If
there were a piano--he looked about. There was none apparently. "Oh,
yes, in a corner, but so many things upon it, it was evidently never
meant to be opened." He moved toward it, Liszt following, asking
Comtesse A. if it could be opened. The things were quickly removed.
Hatzfeldt sat down and played a few bars in rather a halting fashion.
After a moment Liszt said: "No, no, it is not quite that." Hatzfeldt got
up. Liszt seated himself at the piano, played two or three bits of
songs, or waltzes, then, always talking to Hatzfeldt, let his fingers
wander over the keys and by degrees broke into a nocturne and a wild
Hungarian march. It was very curious; his fingers looked as if they
were made of yellow ivory, so thin and long, and of course there wasn't
any strength or execution in his playing--it was the touch of an old
man, but a master--quite unlike anything I have ever heard. When he got
up, he said: "Oh, well, I didn't think the old fingers had any music
left in them." We tried to thank him, but he wouldn't listen to us,
immediately talked about something else. When he had gone we
complimented the ambassador on the way in which he had managed the
thing. Hatzfeldt was a charming colleague, very clever, very musical, a
thorough man of the world. I was always pleased when he was next to me
at dinner--I was sure of a pleasant hour. He had been many years in
Paris during the brilliant days of the Empire, knew everybody there
worth knowing. He had the reputation, notwithstanding his long stay in
Paris, of being very anti-French. I could hardly judge of that, as he
never talked politics to me. It may very likely have been true, but not
more marked with him than with the generality of Anglo-Saxons and
Northern races, who rather look down upon the Latins, hardly giving them
credit for their splendid dash and pluck--to say nothing of their
brains. I have lived in a great many countries, and always think that as
a people, I mean the uneducated mass, the French are the most
intelligent nation in the world. I have never been thrown with the
Japanese--am told they are extraordinarily intelligent.

We had a dinner one night for Mr. Gladstone, his wife, and a daughter.
Mr. Gladstone made himself quite charming, spoke French fairly well, and
knew more about every subject discussed than any one else in the room.
He was certainly a wonderful man, such extraordinary versatility and
such a memory. It was rather pretty to see Mrs. Gladstone when her
husband was talking. She was quite absorbed by him, couldn't talk to her
neighbours. They wanted very much to go to the Conciergerie to see the
prison where the unfortunate Marie Antoinette passed the last days of
her unhappy life, and Mr. Gladstone, inspired by the subject, made us a
sort of conference on the French Revolution and the causes which led up
to it, culminating in the Terror and the execution of the King and
Queen. He spoke in English (we were a little group standing at the
door--they were just going), in beautiful academic language, and it was
most interesting, graphic, and exact. Even W., who knew him well and
admired him immensely, was struck by his brilliant improvisation.

[Illustration: William E. Gladstone. From a photograph by Samuel A.
Walker, London.]

We were often asked for permits by our English and American friends to
see all the places of historical interest in Paris, and the two places
which all wanted to see were the Conciergerie and Napoleon's tomb at the
Invalides. When we first came to Paris in 1866, just after the end of
the long struggle between the North and South in America, our first
visits too were for the Conciergerie, Invalides, and Notre Dame, where
my father had not been since he had gone as a very young man with all
Paris to see the flags that had been brought back from Austerlitz. They
were interesting days, those first ones in Paris, so full of memories
for father, who had been there a great deal in his young days, first as
an eleve in the Ecole Polytechnique, later when the Allies were in
Paris. He took us one day to the Luxembourg Gardens, to see if he could
find any trace of the spot where in 1815 during the Restoration Marshal
Ney had been shot. He was in Paris at the time, and was in the garden a
few hours after the execution--remembered quite well the wall against
which the marshal stood--and the comments of the crowd, not very
flattering for the Government in executing one of France's bravest and
most brilliant soldiers.

All the Americans who came to see us at the Quai d'Orsay were much
interested in everything relating to General Marquis de Lafayette, who
left an undying memory in America, and many pilgrimages were made to the
Chateau de la Grange, where the Marquis de Lafayette spent the last
years of his life and extended a large and gracious hospitality to all
his friends. It is an interesting old place, with a moat all around it
and high solid stone walls, where one still sees the hole that was made
in the wall by a cannon-ball sent by Marechal de Turenne as he was
passing with his troops, as a friendly souvenir to the owner, with whom
he was not on good terms. So many Americans and English too are imbued
with the idea that there are no chateaux, no country life in France,
that I am delighted when they can see that there are just as many as in
any other country. A very clever American writer, whose books have been
much read and admired, says that when travelling in France in the
country, he never saw any signs of wealth or gentlemen's property. I
think he didn't want to admire anything French, but I wonder in what
part of France he has travelled. Besides the well-known historic
chateaux of Chaumont, Chenonceaux, Azay-le-Rideau, Maintenon, Dampierre,
Josselin, Valencay, and scores of others, there are quantities of small
Louis XV chateaux and manoirs, half hidden in a corner of a forest,
which the stranger never sees. They are quite charming, built of red
brick with white copings, with stiff old-fashioned gardens, and trees
cut into all sorts of fantastic shapes. Sometimes the parish church
touches the castle on one side, and there is a private entrance for the
seigneurs. The interior arrangements in some of the old ones leave much
to be desired in the way of comfort and modern improvements,--lighting
very bad, neither gas nor electricity, and I should think no baths
anywhere, hardly a tub. On the banks of the Seine and the Loire, near
the great forests, in all the departments near Paris there are
quantities of chateaux--some just on the border of the highroad,
separated from it by high iron gates, through which one sees long
winding alleys with stone benches and vases with red geraniums planted
in them, a sun-dial and stiff formal rows of trees--some less
pretentious with merely an ordinary wooden gate, generally open, and
always flowers of the simplest kind, geraniums, sunflowers, pinks,
dahlias, and chrysanthemums--what we call a jardin de cure, (curate's
garden)--but in great abundance. With very rare exceptions the lawns are
not well kept--one never sees in this country the smooth green turf that
one does in England.

Some of the old chateaux are very stately--sometimes one enters by a
large quadrangle, quite surrounded by low arcades covered with ivy, a
fountain and good-sized basin in the middle of the courtyard, and a big
clock over the door--sometimes they stand in a moat, one goes over a
drawbridge with massive doors, studded with iron nails and strong iron
bolts and chains which defend the entrance, making one think of old
feudal days, when might was right, and if a man wanted his neighbours
property, he simply took it. Even some of the smaller chateaux have
moats. I think they are more picturesque than comfortable--an
ivy-covered house with a moat around it is a nest for mosquitoes and
insects of all kinds, and I fancy the damp from the water must finish by
pervading the house. French people of all classes love the country and a
garden with bright flowers, and if the poorer ones can combine a rabbit
hutch with the flowers they are quite happy.

I have heard W. speak sometimes of a fine old chateau in our
department--(Aisne) belonging to a deputy, who invited his friends to
shoot and breakfast. The cuisine and shooting were excellent, but the
accommodations fantastic. The neighbours said nothing had been renewed
or cleaned since the chateau was occupied by the Cossacks under the
first Napoleon.

We got very little country life during those years at the Foreign
Office. Twice a year, in April and August, W. went to Laon for his
Conseil-General, over which he presided, but he was rarely able to stay
all through the session. He was always present on the opening day, and
at the prefet's dinner, and took that opportunity to make a short
speech, explaining the foreign policy of the Government. I don't think
it interested his colleagues as much as all the local questions--roads,
schools, etc. It is astonishing how much time is wasted and how much
letter-writing is necessitated by the simplest change in a road or
railway crossing in France. We had rather a short narrow turning to get
into our gate at Bourneville, and W. wanted to have the road enlarged
just a little, so as to avoid the sharp angle. It didn't interfere with
any one, as we were several yards from the highroad, but it was months,
more than a year, before the thing was done. Any one of the workmen on
the farm would have finished it in a day's work.

At one of our small dinners I had such a characteristic answer from an
English diplomatist, who had been ambassador at St. Petersburg. He was
really a charming talker, but wouldn't speak French. That was of no
consequence as long as he only talked to me, but naturally all the
people at the table wanted to talk to him, and when the general
conversation languished, at last, I said to him: "I wish you would speak
French; none of these gentlemen speak any other language." (It was quite
true, the men of my husband's age spoke very rarely any other language
but their own; now almost all the younger generation speak German or
English or both. Almost all my son's friends speak English perfectly.)
"Oh no, I can't," he said; "I haven't enough the habit of speaking
French. I don't say the things I want to say, only the things I can say,
which is very different." "But what did you do in Russia?" "All the
women speak English." "But for affairs, diplomatic negotiations?" "All
the women speak English." I have often heard it said that the Russian
women were much more clever than the men. He evidently had found
it true.

VI

THE EXPOSITION YEAR

The big political dinners were always interesting. On one occasion we
had a banquet on the 2d of December. My left-hand neighbour, a senator,
said to me casually: "This room looks very different from what it did
the last time I was in it." "Does it? I should have thought a big
official dinner at the Foreign Office would have been precisely the same
under any regime." "A dinner perhaps, but on that occasion we were not
precisely dining. I and a number of my friends had just been arrested,
and we were waiting here in this room strictly guarded, until it was
decided what should be done with us." Then I remembered that it was the
2d of December, the anniversary of Louis Napoleon's coup d'etat. He said
they were quite unprepared for it, in spite of warnings. He was sent out

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