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Title: The Comedy and Tragedy of the Second Empire - Paris Society in the Sixties; Including Letters of Napoleon - III., M. Pietri, and Comte de la Chapelle, and Portraits - of the Peri
Author: Legge, Edward
Language: English
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                       THE COMEDY AND TRAGEDY OF
                           THE SECOND EMPIRE

                     [Illustration: NAPOLEON III.

                         BY ALBERT BRUCE-JOY.

From the cast taken by the Sculptor, by permission of H.I.M. the Empress
   Eugénie, immediately after the Emperor’s death, January 9, 1873.

   Mr. Bruce-Joy’s bust has never been exhibited, and was specially
               photographed for this book in June, 1911.

        _Copyright in all Countries. Reproduction prohibited._


                         THE COMEDY & TRAGEDY
                         OF THE SECOND EMPIRE

                     PARIS SOCIETY IN THE SIXTIES

                        PORTRAITS OF THE PERIOD

                          EUGÉNIE: 1870-1910”

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                          LONDON AND NEW YORK
                           HARPER & BROTHERS
                     45, ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 1911

                        I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME

                     ON HIS EIGHTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY

                                TO THE

                           L’EMPIRE LIBÉRAL

                            ÉMILE OLLIVIER
                        PRIME MINISTER IN 1870

                     LOYAL FRIEND OF NAPOLEON III.


                        GRAND OLD MAN OF FRANCE

                   *       *       *       *       *

                Ab honesto virum bonum nihil deterret.



Non-seulement j’accepte avec plaisir la dédicace dont vous voulez bien
m’honorer, mais je vous remercie des termes beaucoup trop bienveillants
dont vous vous servez à mon égard. Je vous remercie aussi de l’envoi de
votre livre, que je me ferai lire, et dans lequel, je suis sûr, je
trouverai beaucoup d’intérêt.

Agreez, Monsieur, mes sentiments les plus cordialement sympathiques.



_June 30, 1911_.


Not only do I accept with pleasure the dedication with which you are
good enough to honour me, but I thank you for the much too kind terms in
which you refer to me.

I thank you also for sending me your book, which I shall have read to
me, and in which I am sure I shall find much that is interesting.

Accept my most cordially-sympathetic sentiments.


     [The book referred to is “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London:
     Harper and Brothers. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910. Owing
     to M. Olliver’s somewhat impaired vision, books and documents are
     read to him.]


It is due to the readers of “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910,” that they
should know how that volume was received by the British and American
Press. Leading critics like Mr. Courtney, “Daily Telegraph”; Mr. Richard
Whiteing, “Manchester Guardian”; and Mr. Tighe Hopkins, “Daily
Chronicle,” devoted much space to their analyses of the volume, as did
the able reviewers of the work in the “Morning Post,” “Daily Mail,”
“Evening Standard,” “Scotsman,” “Illustrated London News,” “Observer,”
“Athenæum,” “Church Times,” “Catholic Times,” “Onlooker,” and many other
influential and widely-circulated journals. Two editions were exhausted
in this country and the United States. A remarkable, and
severely-critical, article appeared in “La Grande Revue” (Paris), from
the pen of the celebrated author and publicist, M. Gérard Harry, a
strong anti-Bonapartist, who deprecated what he considered the excessive
praise bestowed upon the Empress Eugénie. I had a distinctly “good
Press,” and to that fact I attribute the success of the work, a French
edition of which will be issued by the eminent Paris firm of Pierre
Lafitte et Cie. The written words of Napoleon III., hurriedly jotted
down at the hazard of the pen on his way from Sedan to Wilhelmshöhe; of
General Fleury by the side of the captive; of the Empress, and those
about her, addressed to Mgr. Goddard--all these documents, it was agreed
by the Press, threw new light upon the period of the Second Empire.

One of several appreciative American critics did not appear quite
satisfied with the evidence authenticating the Empress’s “Case,” the
elaborate statement justifying Her Majesty’s severely-criticized
political and domestic acts. If any doubt existed on that point I will
now remove it. The assertions contained in that document were indeed
those of the Empress herself, and would never have been published
without her express approval and sanction.

Sovereigns who have been traduced do not “rush into print” with signed
denials of accusations published to their discredit. They adopt other
means of repelling attacks upon their honour, and sometimes upon their
morality. Thus, the Emperor Napoleon, during his captivity at
Wilhelmshöhe, wrote with his own hand a detailed explanation of his
policy as the Ruler of France. It would not have been convenable--not in
accordance with his dignity or with the rigid etiquette which guides
Sovereigns even in their most trivial actions--for the Emperor (who had
not then been formally deposed) to have issued that statement with his
signature appended to it. The Duc de Persigny refused to “father” the
document, and it was sent forth as “by the Marquis de Gricourt,”
although, as General Count von Monts assures us, the Emperor was the
actual author of the pamphlet,[1] and gave the General a copy of it.
Some extracts from the Emperor’s “Case” are printed in the present

The Emperor’s letters to the late Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau display
the workings of his mind during the crisis of his life as only intimate
correspondence could do. This gifted and charming woman’s letters to
Napoleon III. are in the Empress’s possession, and will probably, like
all other correspondence, remain unpublished “until fifty years after
Her Majesty’s death.” The Emperor’s letters came into the possession of
Herr Paul Linderberg, of Berlin, by whose kindness I am privileged to
print them in this volume.

English people who had held the Emperor in holy horror took a different
view of him when they made his personal acquaintance. Lady Westmorland,
for instance, “had always felt a great antipathy for Napoleon III.; to
her he was a clever ‘scoundrel.’ In 1863 her son was a guest at
Compiègne, and there he became seriously ill. She went over to bring him
home, and not only did she acknowledge the Emperor’s kindness, she was
won by his personal charm, and recognized, as Queen Victoria had done,
the evidence of his high-bred instinct: ‘He tried to put others at their
ease, and he is always himself a perfect gentleman.’”[2]

The Emperor, who lavished millions of francs upon others, was himself
very economical. The bills of his fournisseurs show that he had his hats
done up for four francs and his coats for fourteen francs. “Napoleon
III.,” says M. André Lefèvre, “entering France with one or two million
francs of debts, left it with twenty, thirty, or fifty millions owing
to France.... We must not allow even the mummy of Chislehurst to sleep
in peace.” A beautiful sentiment, essentially French.

I have essayed, with the help of others, to paint the Pale Emperor as he
was, and the Empress as _she_ was, and is, and Paris Society as it was.
Of those who knew both, some will agree, others will disagree, with me;
but it is not for this little coterie that I write. I write for the
English-speaking peoples all over the world.

As in my first volume, “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910,” the object
primarily aimed at was to narrate the lives of the Imperial Family in
England, I was precluded from dwelling upon the Reign. In the following
pages I have endeavoured to portray some aspects of the Court and of
Paris Society between 1852 and 1870. These are necessarily only
bird’s-eye views; brief, however, as are these parts of the imperial
story, I hope they will convey an idea of the real life of the period.
It was very gay--not a doubt about it. Was it an “orgy”? One can hardly
think so. Everything was New. To the severe critics--the “sea-green
incorruptibles”--the Emperor was an “adventurer,” the Empress an
“adventuress,” Society “rotten.”

The descriptions of Fontainebleau and Compiègne are mainly derived from
a work by M. Bouchot,[3] whose encyclopædic knowledge is only equalled
by his fascinating style. Other details of life at Compiègne are from
the brilliant pen of the Marquis de Massa, whose unexpected death in
1910 robbed Paris Society of one of its wittiest and most delightful
figures. (The Marquis furnished the Imperial Theatre at Compiègne with
many humorous saynètes, and was in great favour with the Emperor and the
Empress.) From a lecture delivered in 1910 by the Marquis,[4] and from
his entertaining and always reliable “Souvenirs,” I have selected some
amusing items. The telegrams sent by the Emperor and Empress in August,
1870, form a history of the war up to the eve of Sedan. These despatches
are taken from the fifth volume of M. Germain Bapst’s remarkable
historical work, “Le Maréchal Canrobert,” the eminent publishers of
which, MM. Plon-Nourrit et Cie., have very generously authorized me to
reproduce them. M. Bapst’s running commentary on the dissensions of the
Generals, Ministers, and politicians is deeply interesting, and I have
quoted largely from it, convinced that it will be as fresh to English as
it was to French readers. The picture of the Empress, so vividly
sketched by M. Bapst, reveals her in a new light. Although critics are
against me, I hazard the assertion that throughout that month of August
she displayed most of the qualities of a competent Regent--qualities
possessed by no other Empress or Queen of the period, with the single
exception of Queen Victoria. But she strove to accomplish the
impossible. No human power could convert inept Generals into strategists
and tacticians, nor double the strength of the French forces, nor remedy
the defects of organization. Every factor that makes for success was
lacking, or we should not have a distinguished French soldier writing in

     The authors of most of the works inspired by the war of 1870 have
     too willingly yielded to the temptation of looking for the guilty,
     and fixing them with the blame for all our reverses. In turn they
     have chosen for scapegoats the Emperor Napoleon III., that dreamer,
     straying into the field of politics, that idéologue, punished in
     excess of his faults by the pitiless decrees of destiny; Marshal
     Lebœuf, so fatally lacking in foresight; the Corps Législatif, so
     badly inspired in its contests with Marshal Niel; the Generals who
     succeeded each other in the command of our troops, from MacMahon to
     Bourbaki; and, finally, the Government of National Defence,
     especially its Delegates. How few have recognized the fact that the
     French army and our rulers in 1870-71 were purely and simply, with
     their qualities and their defects, the representation, the faithful
     image, of the nation![5]

It was a Frenchman, again, who wrote: “The German schoolmaster was the
real conqueror of France in 1870, for he it was who had for years
developed in the hearts of the children the idea of Teutonic

I recall, without in any way endorsing, a quaint reason seriously
advanced for the French defeats: “Don’t blame your late Emperor because
the Germans thrashed you; the cause lies far deeper: it is due to the
sneakishness of your male population.”[7]

Quite recently I read in the Press that only two or three days before
the outbreak of war Count Bismarck declared that he had no idea there
would be a conflict. If he really said so (I do not credit it), he spoke
in a very different strain in January, 1868, to a prominent German
socialist. “War,” he is alleged to have said, “is inevitable.” And he

     It will be forced upon us by the French Emperor. I say that
     clearly. He is an adventurer, and will be forced into it. We have
     to be ready. _We are ready._ We shall win, and the result will be
     just the contrary to what Napoleon aims at--the total unification
     of Germany outside Austria, and probably Napoleon’s downfall.[8]

That prediction--assuming it to have been made--was fulfilled to the
letter. Germany was ready--France was not. It is to be noted that M.
Émile Ollivier’s new volume--the fifteenth!--is devoted to this question
of preparedness or unpreparedness, for the work is entitled “Were we
Ready?”[9] The veteran Prime Minister (the last) of Napoleon III. deals
with three points--the military preparations, the diplomatic
preparations, and the first war operations, down to the morning of
August 6 (before the Battles of Wörth and Spicheren):

     The conclusion is that, from the military point of view, we were
     sufficiently ready to conquer, and that, despite formal promises,
     no alliance was concluded by August 6. Finally, that if, from July
     31 until August 6, we had adopted a vigorous offensive on the side
     of the River Sarre [_i.e._, at Saarbrücken] we should have gained
     that first victory which would have changed the conditions of the

This will strike many as a splendidly-audacious proposition; yet it is
neither audacious nor new. The two hours’ fighting at Saarbrücken on
August 2 was entirely to the advantage of the French force
(overwhelmingly superior in numbers) under Frossard; but the “victory”
was not followed up, and thus proved wholly fruitless. M. Ollivier is,
therefore, entitled to this expression of opinion, over-sanguine as some
war critics may deem it; and his view must be received with respect,
even by those who differ from it.

The “great years” of the Reign were 1855, when Queen Victoria and the
Prince Consort (the Princess Royal and the Prince of Wales with them)
returned the visit paid to them by the Emperor and Empress of the
French; and 1867, when “all the Sovereigns” were the guests of the
imperial pair. The events of the latter year were brilliantly and
amusingly recorded by that most vivacious chronicler, M. Adrien Marx, in
“Les Souverains à Paris,”[10] from which I have translated some salient

In “L’Impératrice Eugénie,”[11] one of M. Pierre de Lano’s vigorous and
much “documented” works relating to the Second Empire, there are to be
found many tableaux vivants of the epoch--mordant pages, glowing with
colour, of that “Exotic” society which, more than aught else, tended to
bring the Second Empire into disrepute; and impressions of the imperial
lady which are nothing if not frank and unconventional. The extracts
which I have made from M. de Lano’s valuable work cannot fail to be
appreciated by impartial readers, who, perhaps, will be startled by the
audacity of this highly-original and exceptionally-gifted author.

Two recently-issued works--one by M. Irénée Mauget,[12] the other by M.
Gaston Stiegler[13]--strongly appealed to me. To the first I am indebted
for some diverting material; to the second for the delightful picture of
the Emperor intime in the early days of the Reign and the grim story of
the Orsini “attempt,” into which M. Stiegler has infused a few deft
touches of romanticism.

The “papers” of my valued friend Mgr. Goddard have again provided me
with much material otherwise unobtainable, and have left me with a
reserve for future use.

Immediately after the death of the Emperor Napoleon III. at Camden
Place, Chislehurst, the Empress Eugénie permitted Mr. Albert Bruce-Joy
to take a cast of the head of His Majesty. The sculptor later executed
the bust. In June, 1911, at my request, Mr. Bruce-Joy courteously
allowed a photograph of his beautiful work to be taken for reproduction
in this volume. As the distinguished sculptor worked from the mask taken
with his own hands, there can be no question of the perfect fidelity of
the portrait. The Empress Eugénie has graciously accepted a photograph
of the bust, which I had the honour of sending to Her Imperial Majesty
in June.

On May 7, 1910, Queen Alexandra graciously allowed Mr. Bruce-Joy to take
a cast of the features of King Edward VII.; and the sculptor’s bust of
our late beloved Sovereign was a prominent feature of the Royal Academy
Exhibition in 1911. It was executed for Manchester University. Mr.
Bruce-Joy’s most recent work is a colossal bronze statue of the late
Lord Kelvin.

Prince Roland Bonaparte has again been very generous in sending me some
very finely executed photographs, for which I tender His Highness my
respectful thanks. These are (1) H.R.H. Princess George of Greece, the
Prince’s only daughter (née Princesse Marie Bonaparte); (2) the
deeply-regretted Marquise de Villeneuve-Esclapon (née Princesse Jeanne
Bonaparte, Prince Roland’s only sister); and (3) Prince Roland himself,
in the costume of President of the Geographical Society of France. These
photographs are primeurs. The portrait of the charming and gifted
Consort of Queen Alexandra’s nephew is particularly à propos, for
Princess George was the solitary member of the House of Bonaparte
present at the Coronation of King George V. as (with Prince George) a
Royal guest.

I have to thank Messrs. Russell and Sons, Baker Street, for their
kindness in specially preparing, and, allowing me to use in this volume,
the beautiful picture showing the Empress Eugénie on board the royal
yacht with our beloved King Edward, Queen Alexandra, and other Royal
personages, when, in 1902, the late King reviewed the fleet. This is the
only picture of the kind ever taken, and will be treasured as a souvenir
of the affectionate relations between the Empress and the principal
members of our Reigning House. Of the latter Messrs. Russell and Sons
have taken hundreds of superb photographs during the last forty years.

In my quest for suitable portraits of the Second Empire period I have
been greatly aided by that universally-popular lady, Mrs. Ronalds, who,
with charming courtesy, placed her valuable collection of imperial,
royal, and other photographs (all autograph) at my disposal. These
include rare pictures of the Emperor Napoleon, the Empress Eugénie, and
the Prince Imperial, enriched with their signatures. Unfortunately, I
could only avail myself of this generous offer to a limited extent, for
I have been confronted by an embarras des richesses. The portraits I
selected are those of Mrs. Ronalds and her sister, Miss Josephine
Carter. Of their beauty and esprit the chroniclers of the epoch speak in
the most flattering terms. Mrs. Ronalds enjoyed the distinction of being
a guest of their Imperial Majesties at the Tuileries.

Miss Carter represented “America” at the magnificent fancy-dress ball
given in 1866 at the Ministère de la Marine. Other ladies appeared as
“Europe,” “Asia,” and “Africa,” and I have it on the authority of a
surviving eye-witness of this notable fête that the costumes of the fair
representatives of the “five” quarters of the globe were “gorgeous.”
Miss Carter was carried on a large platform by twelve of her compatriots
dressed as Indians. She was seen reclining in a hammock suspended from
two palm-trees. Her dress was artistically embroidered with emblems of
the victorious Republic, and her corsage was studded with diamond
stars. On her beautiful golden hair she wore a Phrygian cap. In the
cortège of “America” were many charming American women, distinguished
(as was “Maud”) by “dead perfection.” “Oceania” was represented.

I have been so fortunate as to obtain from the Vicomte de La Chapelle
some exceptionally interesting reminiscences of Napoleon III. and the
Prince Imperial, as well as a curious story of Marshal Bazaine. His
father--one of the comparatively few survivors of the Bonapartist
régime--was, as I well remember, one of the stanchest and most valued
friends of the Emperor, who made him his political and literary
collaborator and confidant. I have also to thank the Vicomte de La
Chapelle for the portrait of his father (the venerable Comte de La
Chapelle) and the picture of the Emperor on the field of Sedan.

The welcome co-operation of the Vicomte de La Chapelle--a popular figure
in legal, City, and social circles--has enabled me to print a number of
letters written by his aged father to the Emperor Napoleon. I have given
an outline of the Comte de La Chapelle’s career, and I will not dwell
upon it further here except to say that he was the trusted and valued
collaborator of the august Exile from 1871 until the unexpected happened
on January 9, 1873. But I must mention the invaluable services which he
rendered to Napoleon III. at a time when His Majesty did not know where
to turn for money. I noticed this question in my previous volume,[14]
and in proof of the correctness of my assertions quoted a letter written
by the great house of “Barings,” and published in the “Times,” denying
the absurd statements that they had invested immense sums on the
Emperor’s account. The accuracy of what I wrote in 1910 is now further
confirmed by my valued friend the Comte de La Chapelle, whose letters to
the Emperor on the subject of his financial embarrassment I am now
privileged to make public. It was the Comte de La Chapelle who, by his
influence, energy, and devotion to Napoleon III., succeeded in raising
large sums for the personal use of the Emperor and to keep the
Bonapartist cause going. The name of one of these generous helpers is
very well known to me, and in the early seventies it was familiar to the
commercial world generally. These letters form a most interesting
chapter in the Emperor’s amazing career.

The Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès, with the most charming and kindly
grace, sent me, at my earnest request, a very rare photograph of
herself, taken in the later period of the imperial reign. The Empress
Eugénie will, I am confident, be gratified at seeing the portrait of
this great lady--the most lovely of all the belles dames who surrounded
Her Imperial Majesty in the years of her splendour, and one of the very
few surviving intimate friends of the still radiant châtelaine of
Farnborough Hill.

The proprietors of the well-known and deservedly popular Paris
illustrated paper, “Femina,” have been exceedingly generous in this
important matter of pictures. But for their good offices I could not
have given the delightful and piquant portraits of the Empress Eugénie
in various costumes, or the large picture of Her Imperial Majesty at La
Malmaison, with portraits of M. Franceschini Pietri and Comte Joseph
Primoli. Certain difficulties arose in the preparation of these
historically valuable pictures, but these obstacles were overcome by the
great goodwill and liberality of the proprietors of “Femina,” to whom I
shall always be grateful for their kindness.

During the Terrible Year a “Times” leader-writer took as his text for a
powerful essay some extracts from the Reports of Colonel Stoffel, French
Military Attaché at Berlin (1866-1870), to his Government; and in the
course of his article he did not hesitate to assert that it was a puzzle
how anyone who had read those documents could ever have dreamt of
plunging France into a war with Prussia. After reading M. Franceschini’s
letters to Stoffel the puzzle would appear greater still were it not
now, thanks to M. Émile Ollivier, matter of common knowledge that the
Emperor and his Government were goaded into a declaration of war by the
French Press and by the nation en masse. These letters (from which, by
the great courtesy of the director of the “Revue de Paris,” I have been
able to give extracts) are in every way remarkable, but their main
importance lies in the fact that they were written by M. Pietri. In
1866, as later, he was the mouthpiece of Napoleon III. When he wrote to
Colonel Stoffel he expressed not only the Emperor’s views, but his own.
He shows us that Stoffel’s opinions were highly valued by the Emperor
and by Marshal Niel, then Minister of War. Both Sovereign and War
Minister set special store upon the Military Attaché’s Reports. The
Emperor could not hear too often from him. M. Pietri was always urging
the Colonel to write. The Emperor dictated to M. Pietri questions which
Stoffel was required to answer. The Prussians, in their campaign against
Austria, in 1866, used the needle-gun for the first time in warfare, and
M. Pietri sent Stoffel funds wherewith to purchase one of the new rifles
for the Emperor. These lettres révélatrices are further remarkable for
their ardent patriotism and wide knowledge of political and military
affairs. It is hardly too much to say that in these epistles M.
Franceschini Pietri shines as the Admirable Crichton of Bonapartism.
Sometimes he is amusingly audacious and delightfully humorous, but
always he is “the Emperor’s man” to the backbone. With a few hundred of
such letters it would be possible to construct a history of the Second
Empire which only the publication of the Empress Eugénie’s Memoirs could
rival. And perhaps the Secretary’s letters would be the more
historically interesting of the two.

Proof-sheets of the chapter, “Prince Napoleon’s Policy,” were sent to
His Imperial Highness’s Secretary, M. Beneyton, and returned to me by
that gentleman with his wonted courtesy. If I mention these incidents,
it is simply to show that I have always taken the utmost pains to secure
absolute accuracy in all which I have written concerning the Imperial
Family. Similarly, I based my exposé of the forged “Mémoires de
l’Impératrice Eugénie” on the written statements courteously furnished
me by M. Franceschini Pietri in January, 1910.[15]

[Illustration: letter]

I have been honoured by the letter of M. Pietri conveying the Empress
Eugénie’s thanks, and also by these gracious communications:

SANDRINGHAM, NORFOLK, _June 29, 1911_.


     I am commanded by Queen Alexandra to thank you very much for the
     excellent photograph of the Emperor Napoleon the Third’s Bust,
     which Her Majesty is very glad to have.

Believe me,
Yours truly,

       *       *       *       *       *

PARIS. 10, AVENUE D’IÈNA, _30 juin, 1911_.


     J’ai recu votre aimable lettre du 27 ct., ainsi que la photographie
     du buste de l’Empereur Napoléon III. et les paragraphes sur la
     représentation de la Maison Bonaparte aux fêtes du couronnement de
     S.M. le Roi Georges V.

     Je me suis empressé de remettre le tout à S.A.I. Monseigneur le
     Prince Roland Bonaparte, qui me charge de vous en remercier
     vivement, et de vous dire combien Elle a été sensible à cette
     délicate attention.

     Veuillez agréer, cher Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentiments les
     plus distingués.



PARIS, 10, AVENUE D’IÈNA, _June 30, 1911_.


     I have received your amiable letter of the 27th inst., and also the
     photograph of the bust of the Emperor Napoleon III. and the
     paragraphs referring to the representation of the House of
     Bonaparte at the Coronation fêtes of H.M. King George V.

     I hastened to hand the whole to H.I.H. Monseigneur Prince Roland
     Bonaparte, who directs me to warmly thank you, and to tell you how
     sensible he is of your delicate attention.

     Accept, dear sir, the expression of my most distinguished


I have selected for detailed treatment 1867. In that year the Emperor
Napoleon and the Empress Eugénie entertained three Emperors, eight
Kings, one Viceroy, five Queens, nine Grand Dukes, two Grand Duchesses,
two Archdukes, twenty-four Princes, seven Princesses, five Dukes, and
two Duchesses. The Prince of Wales (King Edward VII.), the Duke of
Edinburgh, and the Duke of Connaught were of the party. While 1867 is
generally considered to have been the “great year” of the Imperial
Reign, M. Hanotaux[16] inclines to the opinion that “the climax of
Napoleonic glory” came in November, 1869, when the Empress Eugénie
inaugurated the Suez Canal--ten months before Sedan.


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

    I. THE EMPRESS’S GIRLHOOD                                          1

   II. THE BOYHOOD AND YOUTH OF NAPOLEON III.                          7

  III. FROM LONDON TO HAM VIÂ BOULOGNE                                18

   IV. COURTSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT                                       29

    V. CÆSAR’S WIFE                                                   49

   VI. APOGEE OF THE SECOND EMPIRE                                    70

  VII. TWO EMPRESSES                                                  90

 VIII. THE TUILERIES                                                  99

   IX. FONTAINEBLEAU                                                 113

    X. COMPIÈGNE                                                     127

   XI. THE FOREIGN LEGION; AND SOME GREAT LADIES                     137

  XII. THE SOVEREIGNS’ WAR DESPATCHES                                165

 XIII. WHAT OUR EYES HAVE SEEN                                       204

  XIV. ON THE EVE OF EXILE                                           223



 XVII. THE EMPEROR’S CORRESPONDENCE                                  259

XVIII. CITIZEN--PRESIDENT--EMPEROR                                   268

  XIX. THE PALE EMPEROR                                              274

   XX. THE EMPEROR’S COLLABORATOR                                    300

  XXI. FINANCING THE EMPEROR AND “THE CAUSE”                         308


XXIII. PRINCE NAPOLEON--THE EMPRESS IN 1910-11                       339


       INDEX                                                         401


                                                           TO FACE PAGE

NAPOLEON III.                                             _Frontispiece_

KING EDWARD                                                           64

IN THE “GREAT YEAR,” 1867                                             72

THE EMPRESS EUGÉNIE IN SPANISH COSTUME                               128

THE EMPRESS EUGÉNIE IN CIRCASSIAN COSTUME                            128

DANCING-GIRL)                                                        136

THE EMPRESS EUGÉNIE AS MARIE ANTOINETTE                              136

MRS. RONALDS                                                         152

THE COMTESSE EDMOND DE POURTALÈS                                     160


NAPOLEON III. AT SEDAN                                               216

MR. ALFRED AUSTIN (POET LAUREATE)                                    272

THE COMTE A. DE LA CHAPELLE                                          304

H.H. PRINCE ROLAND BONAPARTE                                         336

BEDROOM AT LA MALMAISON IN 1910                                      368

BONAPARTE)                                                           376

AUNT OF H.R.H. PRINCESS GEORGE OF GREECE)                            384

THE COMTESSE DE MERCY-ARGENTEAU                                      392



     _It is August, 1840, and from the balcony of the Delesserts’ house
     a fair-complexioned, golden-haired girl of fourteen looks down on a
     man escorted by two gendarmes. Dishevelled, unkempt, in his
     shirtsleeves, the prisoner, who has been fished out of the salt
     water, passes out of sight, unaware of the child’s wistful looks
     and the sympathetic glances of her sister and their mother.
     Perchance he sees Goldenhair wave her handkerchief._

     _Mme. Delessert’s husband is Préfet of Paris. The ladies on the
     balcony are the Comtesse de Montijo and her daughters. The man in
     custody is Prince Louis Napoleon, the derided, but unabashed, hero
     of the Boulogne “attempt”; and he is two-and-thirty._

The daughters of the Comte and Comtesse de Montijo made their
acquaintance with Paris when they were not more than four or five. It
was about 1830 or 1831 when the family went to reside there for a while.
Prosper Mérimée, whose name can no more be kept out of the history of
the Empress than could Mr. Dick suppress the mention of King Charles’s
head, was there, and his friend of the British Museum, Dr. Panizzi, was
kept informed of the strolls on the boulevards of the little Eugénie,
and of her liking, not only for the author of the story of “Carmen,”
which Bizet was later to set to music, but for the sweets given to her
by Mérimée.

The Montijos seem to have been then in only fairly easy circumstances.
Three or four years later their fortunes improved, the head of the
family having died.

Eugénie’s education begins at a celebrated convent school, on whose
books she figures as Eugénie Palafox, a name used by her for a score of

At the Sacré-Cœur, Rue de la Varenne, the little Montijo is supremely
happy. Her holidays and those other days when she is allowed “out” she
spends with her mother’s friend, the Comtesse de Laborde, at a country
house at Passy, where a park runs down to the Seine. Mme. de Laborde has
promised Madame mère to make Eugénie’s school life as pleasant as
possible, and she fulfils her promise to the letter. The Comtesse de
Laborde has three daughters, all well married, all charming mondaines:
Mme. Delessert--who, as the wife of the Préfet, is a personage--Mme.
Bocher, and Mme. Odiar. Eugénie is in the good graces of this
captivating trio. But the lady to whom she is particularly attached is
the Comtesse de Nadaillac, daughter of Mme. Delessert, and
grand-daughter of the Comtesse de Laborde.

At the age of eleven (in 1837) she makes the vows imposed upon
communicants, in the stereotyped phrase, “La fille de la Comtesse de
Téba (Montijo) fit sa première communion,” in the chapel of the convent
school. Soon--in March, 1839--there comes a hurried departure for Spain,
whither her parents had returned a short time previously. Her father has
died, and the child’s Parisian “schooling” is over. For some little time
before the loss of their father Eugénie and her eldest sister,
Francisca, familiarly “Pacca,” had been in the charge, in Paris, of an
English governess, Miss Flowers,[17] who accompanied them to Madrid at
the time of the Count’s death. Mérimée wrote: “No one would credit the
regret I feel at their departure” (from Paris). I will note only in
passing that Eugénie’s education was “finished” in this country at a
school at Clifton, Bristol.

Having ceased to be a schoolgirl, the Señorita Eugénie de Montijo
undergoes a transformation. She is, and for some years will remain, in
her teens. At fifteen she is bewitching. In the saddle, what a charming
and picturesque figure! Madrid has no such fearless rider. There is no
particular evidence that now and then she gallops through the streets
riding à califourchon; but legend has it so, and in this case legend may
possibly not wholly err. In the forties she is heedless of criticism,
perhaps because only her rivals can find it in their hearts to malign
her. As yet she is not seen in the hunting-field. She little recks that
ten years or so later she will be arousing the undisguised hostility of
her sex at the imperial chasses at Compiègne.

The Señorita would hardly be Spanish were she not much in view when all
Madrid foregathers at the bull-fights. Like her companions, she has her
favourite toreadors, and is lavish of her rewards--gold and flowers.
Matadors and picadors do her homage. She is coquette to her little
finger-tips. A smile from that sunny face and a word from those rosebud
lips are eagerly contended for, and she is not slow in according both.
Meanwhile the élégants group themselves around her as thick as bees
round the tulips and honeysuckles. In those Southern climes, if
anywhere, flirtation is one of the fine arts. The Señorita
Eugénie--“Ugenia” in her own language--is not the least ardent disciple
of the genus flirt. She coquettes with this Duke and that Duke. He of
Ossuna and he of Sesto (Alganices) are rivals. There is yet a third
Duke--Alba--over whom she essays to cast a spell; but, alas! the course
of true love is diverted--perhaps unconsciously--by Pacca, the beautiful
sister, and she it is who becomes Duquesa. Around this episode of
unrequited love how many “histories” have been woven, mostly apocryphal!
“Ugenia,” some would have us believe, resorts to what she thinks is a
phial of poison, and awakes from her torpor to discover--oh,
horror!--that she has swallowed a portion of the disgusting, but
harmless, contents of a blacking-bottle!

No salon in Madrid was more frequented than the Comtesse de Montijo’s.
The daughters were not the only magnets. Madame mère was a woman of
esprit, and had a genius for making friends and keeping them.
“Theatricals” drew all Madrid to the house. Eugénie was seen in De
Musset’s “Caprice,” with the enamoured Duc de Sesto in the cast. The
summers--or a portion of them--were passed on the Montijo property at

Every great lady in Madrid has her circle of young and middle-aged men,
known as “pollos”--literally, chickens. Among the Comtesse de Montijo’s
“pollos,” all more or less smitten by the radiant Señorita Eugénie, was
General Espartero’s successful rival, General Narvaly, Duke of Valencia,
short, dark, a stern soldier, as supple in the young lady’s hands as the
youngest and most impressionable of her “pollos.” A lady well known in
social London, the wife of a foreign diplomatist, and gifted with the
pen of a ready writer, drew this somewhat caustic portrait of the
future Empress when she was the most-discussed personage in Madrid:

     Hardly a week passed without some fresh anecdote being circulated
     of which Eugénie de Montijo was the heroine. She justified
     curiosity and courted censure by her disregard of
     conventionalities; and she certainly possessed the Alcibidian
     temperament which craves for notoriety. She wielded her sceptre of
     society queen with no light hand, and her favourites of to-day were
     discarded by to-morrow’s caprice. In her own house she was seen
     devoting herself for the whole evening to the entertainment of some
     obscure musician, hanging on his arm, speaking to no one else, and
     finally dropping the curtains over a window recess to which she had
     led him; but the following week, if the poor infatuated wretch came
     confidently to bask in the intoxicating favour that had bewitched
     him, he was received with a supercilious arching of the lovely
     eyebrows. This idol could look at him as if he were a total
     stranger, and glide away from him with the coldest inclination of
     her head.

The variegated life of the Spanish girl who was destined to become
Empress of the French--her life between the ages of fifteen and
twenty-six--has never been, and never will be, described in detail. They
were “Wanderjähre,” years of travel, visits to modish Continental
resorts, and one or two sojourns in England. Once, in the summer of
1851, she and her mother (but not “Pacca”) attended a Court ball at
Buckingham Palace--an incident which Queen Victoria may have recalled in
one or other of her numerous meetings with the imperial lady, but not
recorded by the Queen in her “Leaves” or her “Letters.” The presence of
the Spanish ladies among the Queen’s guests was, however, noted in the
official list, the compiler of which, or the printers, effectually
mangled the names of both. A week later Lord Malmesbury saw them at
Cambridge House, Piccadilly, the town residence of Viscount and
Viscountess Palmerston, now, and for many years past, the Naval and
Military Club. Mlle. de Montijo struck Lord Malmesbury as being “very
handsome”; with the “flair” of a modern journalist, he noted her auburn
hair and her “beautiful skin and figure.” He would have earned our
thanks had he given us the names of the social sponsors of the Montijos
in London. It was our Great Exhibition year, and we may be certain that
the ladies were among the hundreds of thousands who flocked to Paxton’s
huge glass palace in Hyde Park, the exact site of which is probably
unknown to all but the fogies of 1911.[18]

A resort which found much favour with the mother and daughter was
Eaux-Bonnes, in the Pyrenees. At the hotel honoured by their presence
was an observant gentleman who for a full fortnight had the felicity of
dining in the company of the fair Spaniards. He was therefore, according
to one of his friends, who made attractive “copy” of it for a Belgian
paper, able to “coldly study” the younger lady. “C’est une très belle et
très jolie femme, qui tiendra fort bien sa place, attendu qu’elle a,
comme on dit, le physique de l’emploi.”[19]



Few English readers are, I imagine, familiar with the boyhood and the
adolescence of Napoleon III., whose centenary fell on April 20, 1908. It
is true that Blanchard Jerrold has given us, in his “Life of the
Emperor” (four volumes, published in 1874 by Longmans), an admirable and
detailed history of the unfortunate Sovereign who drew his last breath
at Chislehurst in 1873; but, perhaps owing to the abundance of other
material officially placed at his disposal, Mr. Jerrold devoted only a
few lines to the eight years during which Philippe Le Bas was the tutor
of the future Emperor.

Luckily, M. Stéfane-Pol has recently produced a volume of the greatest
value, entitled “La Jeunesse de Napoléon III.,”[20] containing the
hitherto unpublished correspondence of the Prince’s tutor, Philippe Le
Bas (of the Institut), with many original illustrations, some from the
Prince’s own pencil, others by Queen Hortense and by artists familiar
with Arenenberg.

“Prince Louis Bonaparte,” wrote Alphonse Karr, in “Les Guêpes,” “born in
Paris in 1808, educated abroad, knew neither France nor its ways. He
spoke our language with difficulty, with a very strong German accent.
His early youth has left no souvenir, even in the mind of his most
complaisant biographers.”

Even his partisans confine themselves to generalities, stupidly
inaccurate. “Although far from France,” says M. Stéfane-Pol, “we read in
a contemporary publication describing the coup d’état, ‘the education of
the young Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was entirely French. His mother
imbued him with a love of his natal land, and his father taught him, at
an early age, to sacrifice everything--life, honours, and fortune--for
the holy and sacred cause of the people; taught him, too, to dare and to
suffer all things for the triumph of such great interests. Later, his
parents, in order to complete his education, confided him to the care of
M. Le Bas, son of the Conventionnel of that name, from whom the Prince
acquired the wisest and most solid Republican principles.’”

Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, youngest son of Louis Bonaparte, King
of Holland, and of Hortense de Beauharnais, was born on April 20, 1808.
He was Napoleon I.’s nephew, and the Empress Joséphine’s grandson. He
was baptized at the Palace of Fontainebleau by Cardinal Fesch, uncle of
Napoleon I., and held at the font by the Great Emperor himself. In the
_Moniteur_ of April 21 his birth was thus chronicled:

     Yesterday (Wednesday) Her Majesty the Queen of Holland was happily
     delivered of a Prince. In conformity with Article XL. of the Act of
     the Constitutions of the 20 Florial, year XII., his Serene Highness
     Monseigneur the Prince Arch-Chancellor of the Empire was present at
     the birth. His Highness wrote immediately to His Majesty the
     Emperor and King, to Her Majesty the Empress and Queen, and to His
     Majesty the King of Holland, informing them of the event. At 5 p.m.
     the certificate of birth was received by His Serene Highness the
     Prince Arch-Chancellor, assisted by His Excellency M. Régnault de
     St. Jean d’Angély, Minister of State and Secretary of the Imperial
     Family. In the absence of His Majesty the Emperor and King, the
     infant did not receive any Christian name; this he will be given by
     a later act, in accordance with His Majesty’s orders.

Napoleon I. and Joséphine had been divorced previous to the birth of the
child, whose godmother was Marie Louise, Napoleon’s second consort. At
the time of his birth the parents of the future Napoleon III. were
living apart. “I am sorry Louis is not here,” said the mother; “this
infant would have reconciled us.”

It was said that the King of Holland was not the father of the young
Louis Napoleon.[21] It is difficult, however, to adduce proofs of that
assertion. There is one fact concerning which there is general
agreement. There was no physical or moral resemblance between the
brother of Napoleon I. and the son of Hortense de Beauharnais. The
infant had neither the face nor the character of the Bonapartes; on the
contrary, he was the image of his mother, whose large heart, as well as
many other characteristics, he inherited. Ambition and superstition were
the principal features of the life of Queen Hortense. “She inspired her
son,” said Henri Martin, “with a fanatical faith in his destiny,” and
circumstances developed in both mother and son a firm belief in their
lucky star. With the exception of the King of Rome, Louis Napoleon was
the only Prince born under the imperial régime--the only one whose birth
was greeted by military honours and the people’s homage. Was not that
(asks M. Stéfane-Pol) a presage of his destiny? A family register,
devoted to the children of the imperial dynasty, was deposited at the
Senate as the grand-livre of the right of succession. The name of Prince
Louis was the first to be inscribed in it, with all the pomp of a
consecration. What better auspices could there have been for an aspirant

Later, when the Duchesse de Saint-Leu (Queen Hortense), mother of Prince
Louis Napoleon, occupied the leisure afforded her by her exile in
roaming through Switzerland with Mlle. Cochelet, she had no object in
view except that which chance offered. “All our distractions during
these wanderings,” wrote Mlle. Cochelet, “were confined to searching for
four-leaved shamrocks, to which were attached various ideas. ‘If,’ said
the Duchesse, ‘I find a four-leaved shamrock, it will signify that we
shall return to France before very long, or that I shall receive a
letter from my son to-morrow,’ and so on.” The author does not add, “Or
perhaps I shall reign through my son,” but that is implied in most of
the wishes of the ex-Queen of Holland.

In 1834 Louis Napoleon and his mother travelled in Italy. They had been
in Rome for some time, when one day Hortense consulted a negress, a
somnambulist, who, according to M. de La Guéronnière, had produced some
remarkable phenomena. A clever magnetizer sent the negress to sleep,
and presently, in response to the eager questions of Hortense, the
somnambulist exclaimed suddenly, as if inspired, “I see your son happy
and triumphant. A great nation takes him for chief.” “For Emperor, you
mean, do you not?” asked the mother breathlessly. “For chief,” replied
the somnambulist. Hortense could not obtain from the negress anything
more satisfactory, but the prediction was confirmed subsequently by what
the doyen of Paris priests said to Louis Napoleon, then President of the
Republic: “Monseigneur, the will of God will be fulfilled quand même.”

Louis Napoleon was imbued with all his mother’s superstitious ideas. One
of his friends having asked him why the attempt at Strasburg had failed,
the Prince smilingly furnished an explanation which doubtless accorded
with his fatalistic instincts--a wheel of his carriage had come off
between Lehr and Strasburg! But his instincts required guiding, and
Hortense was not equal to the task. While she was making lint for the
wounded and weaving patriotic romances to cheer the faint-hearted, the
mother of the future Emperor (then Queen of Holland) inculcated in the
young Louis those bellicose ideas which were quite foreign to his calm
and dreamy nature. “Supposing you had not a sou in the world to call
your own,” she said to her eldest boy one day, “what would you do,
Napoleon, to gain a livelihood?” “I should go for a soldier,” was the
reply. “And you, Louis, what would you do?” “I should sell violets, like
the little boy who stands at the gates of the Tuileries,” answered the
child whom Destiny had marked out for an Emperor. There was something in
this boy’s character to reform, and his mother set about the task,
invoking the aid of all around her--amongst them Napoleon I. and Mme.
Bure, the faithful nurse, who was jealous of the attention bestowed upon
the boy by Mme. de Boubers and the Abbé Bertrand.

Henceforward the young Louis made considerable progress. Although he was
always extremely sensitive, he longed to share the dangers of others.
Renault, imitating Mlle. Cochelet, tells this story of him:

     At this time Prince Louis Napoleon was seven years old. One day, on
     the eve of the departure for that fatal campaign which, after two
     striking victories, ended with the disaster of Waterloo, Napoleon
     I., accompanied by Marshal Soult, entered his cabinet. He appeared
     sad and thoughtful. The tones of his voice, sharp and emphatic,
     revealed the preoccupation of his mind. Suddenly a child slips into
     the room. His features are stamped with grief, and he vainly
     struggles to restrain his emotion. He approaches, kneels before the
     Emperor, and, laying his head and hands on Napoleon’s knees, bursts
     into tears.

     “What is the matter with you, Louis?” exclaims the Emperor, in a
     tone showing his annoyance at being interrupted. “Why have you come
     here? Why are you crying?”

     The child, frightened, can only reply with sobs. By degrees he
     becomes calm, and then, in a sweet, sad voice, says: “Sire, my
     governess has just told me that you are leaving for the war. Oh! do
     not go--do not go!”

     The Emperor could not but be touched by this solicitude, for the
     child was Prince Louis, the nephew whom he loved above all others.

     “And why do you wish me not to go?” asked the Emperor sadly. Then,
     passing his hand through the child’s golden curls, he said: “Mon
     enfant, it is not the first time that I go _to the war_. Why should
     it trouble you? Never mind; I shall soon return.”

     “Oh, my dear uncle,” said the boy, again bursting into tears,
     “those wicked Allies want to kill you! Oh, _uncle, let me go with

     For a time the Emperor did not speak. Taking the child on his knee,
     he pressed him to his heart and embraced him warmly. The Emperor
     was deeply moved, but presently, when he had steadied his voice, he
     called, “Hortense! Hortense!” And as the Queen came hurrying into
     the room, Napoleon said: “Here, take my nephew out and give his
     governess a severe scolding for thoughtlessly putting such words
     into his mouth and exalting his sensibility.” Then, after
     addressing the boy affectionately, the Emperor, turning to Marshal
     Soult, who was labouring under deep emotion, said vivaciously:
     “Embrace him--he will have a good heart and a beautiful soul. He
     may be the hope of my race.”

Hortense must have relished these last words. Are not great captains
regarded as oracles? When, at Paris, as at St. Leu, some of the visitors
discussed metaphysics, or grouped themselves around La Bédoyère, reading
Racine or Shakespeare; when others posed to Garnerey for their
portraits, and others played billiards, Louis Napoleon and his brother
listened open-mouthed to the tales of heroism which Mlle. Cochelet was
instructed to tell them. Later, in the land of exile, while the Duchesse
de St. Leu and her suite played diabolo--one room serving as salon and
salle à manger--and when the only book at their disposal was a volume of
“Anecdotes de la Cour de Philippe-Auguste,” discovered, after a long
search, by the Abbé Bernard, the ex-Queen of Holland would watch her
sons playing at soldiers with the common children. And the day came
when she saw Louis at the military school of Thün learning how to
command, and then at Rome, at the house of his grandmother, Lætitia
Bonaparte--scenes which enabled her to record the story of Prince Louis
Napoleon’s youth.

The character of the Prince, according to Mlle. Cochelet, was amiable,
timid, self-contained. He spoke very little, and Le Bas (his tutor) adds
that he was naturally distrait and inactive. Thus he always remained.
Those who most flattered Napoleon III. never concealed, in rhetorical
phrases, the evident inertness of his physical nature; morally, he was a
docile slave.

     His look of inertness and apparent insensibility is only the mark
     of an ardent and powerful inner life. His eyes are dull, but they
     are as deep as the thought in which they are plunged, which appears
     now and again as the flame leaps from the hearth. His forehead is
     as sombre as fate, but it is large, like its conception. The lips
     are white, but fine, delicate, discreet, only sufficiently opened
     to allow of the escape of sharp and precise expressions of a
     reflecting and ordered will. His speech is indolent and slow, but
     he is sure of himself, and his apparent indifference is but the
     excess of his self-confidence. Audacity veiled by timidity,
     firmness dissimulated by mildness, inflexibility compensated for by
     goodness, finesse concealed by bonhomie, life under the marble,
     fire beneath the cinders--in a word, something of Augustus and of
     Titus under the look of Werther, that type of German dreaminess:
     such was the appearance of Louis Bonaparte.[22]

M. de La Guéronnière finds, in this portrait which he gives of the
Prince, a justification for the various appreciations formulated of his
mind and character. But do we not see, on the contrary, in the portrait
a simple play of antitheses, a fantastic interpretation of that which
appeared to be the evident reality?--which is to say that Louis Napoleon
was a young man of average intelligence, without mental unbending, and
characterized by an absolute lack of willpower. Like all who hesitate
and dream, he finished by attaching an idea to himself and adopting it,
in order not to be submerged by other ideas. Thus he deserved the title
of “doux entêté” given to him by his mother. But his impassiveness, his
stiffness, were only timidity, and his resolutions to act showed
themselves only after delays or with sudden coups, which emphasized his

He had doubtless a certain fatalistic power of resistance, but this side
of his character only showed the absence of an active mind; the
enterprises of Stratford and Boulogne do not contradict this view. As to
the coup d’état, one might explain it by many causes foreign to a ripe
will. Besides, was not the coup d’état predicted by the “Grand Albert,”
and did not that prediction give the rein to the superstitious docility
of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte?[23]

However this may be, whatsoever his faults may have been, we must
recognize in him who was Napoleon III. one quality: he had a heart. Even
his adversaries knew this, and some of them--those who were
sincere--admitted it with a good grace. The words of Georges Sand,
written when the Prince was a prisoner in the fortress of Ham, would
have remained true if events, stronger than his apparent energy, had
not let loose against him hatreds at once tenacious and justified. “Two
or three of us,” she wrote, “often talk about you, and we always say,
after recognizing the dangers which would follow your accession to power
of any kind, ‘He possesses the gift of making himself loved; it is
impossible not to love him.’”

Le Bas, who knew the Prince better than anyone else, speaks of his
excellent heart, and quotes examples of the sensitiveness and the
generous instincts of him whom his mother and the Abbé Bertrand long
called “notre petit oui-oui.”

The character of the child reflects, in an exaggerated form, the
qualities and the defects of those by whom he was surrounded. It is
sufficient to peruse the letters of the Abbé Bertrand to understand the
lightness and the inconsistency which vitiated the education of the
future Emperor Napoleon III. The Republican Le Bas, on the contrary,
enunciated more severe, and at the same time more generous, ideas, which
his pupil transmitted into Utopian reveries. Later, the Prince’s
initiation into military studies gave him a taste for the profession of
arms, and inspired him with the secret hope of continuing, by modifying
and even socializing it, the work of Napoleon I.

The docility of the child bent under the influence of his preceptors, as
it had previously given way under that of his mother and the intimates
of the household. But, besides this, the fashionable life, the soirées,
the concerts, the drawing-room theatricals, and the organization of
lotteries, as well as the excessive walks and drives, disarranged the
carefully-elaborated programmes of education, so that the personality of
Prince Louis could not prevail against the numerous changes of scene, to
say nothing of the drawbacks to study caused by the life in exile and
the uncertainty of what might happen at any moment.

It would be a curious study to examine the writings of Napoleon III.,
and to ascertain who amongst those by whom he was surrounded in his
youth inspired him with the thoughts which he has put into his book,
“Idées Napoléoniennes.” That work, his essays on military subjects, and
his “Extinction de Paupérisme,” all reveal the accurate memory of the
former pupil of the camp of Thün, and show how well he recollected the
lessons of Le Bas and the advice of the ambitious Hortense, while they
also give evidences of that futility for which the Abbé Bertrand was to
some extent responsible.

“Slave of the souvenirs of his childhood,” wrote the Emperor, “the man
obeys all his life, without doubting them, the impressions which he
received when he was young, and the experiences and influences of which
he has been the object.”[24]

If (concludes M. Stéfane-Pol) circumstances had not been stronger than
the free-will of Napoleon III., those impressions, experiences, and
influences, many and various as they were, would never have brought
about the unheard-of metamorphosis of a man of heart and delicacy, if
not of reason, until popular sentiment, refusing to analyze him in order
to arrive at a result, finished by execrating him.



Between 1839 and 1848 Prince Louis Napoleon (allowing for the six years
which he spent at Ham) resided mostly, if not entirely, in London. In
the first part of those years--on his arrival here from Switzerland,
which he had left under pressure of Louis Philippe’s Government--he
lodged at Fenton’s Hotel, St. James’s Street,[25] soon removing to
Carlton Terrace, Pall Mall. In 1846, upon his escape from Ham and his
return to London (May 27), he stayed for a while at the Brunswick Hotel,
Jermyn Street; then changed his quarters to King Street, St. James’s,
where he was living when he acted as a special constable during the
Chartist riots.[26] From King Street he wrote (February 15, 1847) to a
friend, M. Vieillard:

     For the last fortnight I have been installed in a new house, and
     for the first time in seven years I enjoy the pleasure of being at
     home. I have assembled here all my books, my albums, and family
     portraits--in a word, all the precious objects which have escaped
     shipwreck. The portrait of the Emperor, by Paul Delaroche, is very
     fine. This generous present has given me great pleasure, and forms
     the most beautiful ornament of my salon.

An intimate friend of the Prince (the pseudonymous “Baron d’Ambès”)
asserts that Louis Napoleon “left Lord Cardigan’s house to occupy Lord
Ripon’s, Carlton Gardens. He did not lose by the change.”[27] His
drawing-rooms were “full of glorious souvenirs and sacred relics. There
were portraits of the Emperor, the Empress, and Queen Hortense; the ring
of the ‘crowning’; the ring worn by Napoleon I. at his marriage with
Joséphine; the tricolour cashmere scarf which he wore at the Battle of
the Pyramids; the portraits of all the members of the imperial family;
the famous talisman of Charlemagne, found in his tomb at
Aix-la-Chapelle, and sent to Napoleon by the cathedral clergy in 1804; a
medallion with two portraits, painted by Isabey; and other marvels,
doubly dear to him who religiously preserves them.”

The Prince drove or rode every day. His cabriolet, driven by himself,
soon became familiar in the West End; in the Ladies’ Mile it was much
remarked, for the Prince soon made a number of friends, well-known men
and pretty élégantes, some of whom were to be seen at Lady
Blessington’s. “In London he visited only important personages. He was
an assiduous frequenter of the libraries, and a good customer of the
booksellers. He now (1840) published his volume, ‘Les Idées
Napoléoniennes,’ a résumé of that programme of democratic empire which
he always upheld.”

About this time De Persigny appeared among the authors. His “book” was a
very small one, but it was read in Paris by everybody, for it was a
cleverly-written account of a “visit to Prince Louis” (it was so
entitled). It was published anonymously, but people soon gave a name to
it. De Persigny, it seems, had read Vertot’s “Révolutions Romaines” (a
favourite book of Napoleon I.), and discovered a parallel between Prince
Louis, nephew of Napoleon, and Octavius, grandnephew of Julius Cæsar. De
Persigny’s work touched the Prince, whose hopes were revived by its
emotional passages.

Louis Napoleon’s attempts--first at Strasburg in 1836, and next at
Boulogne in 1840--to arouse France to a sense of his merits were signal
failures, so farcical as to cover him with ridicule in a country where
that defect is popularly supposed to “kill.” He was a laughing-stock,
yet he survived both contempt and obloquy, to say nothing of six years’
imprisonment. In the Strasburg plot the Prince was assisted by a lady
(of the same age as himself) who called herself Mrs. Gordon, and who was
born Bruault-Eléonore Bruault. She had been a singer, and had received
lessons in Paris from Rossini. Some time in the year 1836, beautiful and
poor, she was in London, where she came in contact with De Persigny, who
probably introduced her to the Prince. After the fiasco at Strasburg she
was quick enough to burn all compromising documents before the police
could seize them. Moreover, she contrived to get De Persigny, disguised
as a cook, out of the town. He reached London safely, and narrated the
story of the “attempt” in a pamphlet published in London and in Paris.
Fleury joined De Persigny in London; they shared lodgings, belonged to
the same club, and were presently joined by the Marquis de Gricourt.[28]

For his attempt to make the troops at Strasburg mutiny in his favour
Louis Napoleon was deported to America, where he arrived on March 30,
1837, after a long voyage, which he fully described in letters to his
mother. At New York, on the evening of his arrival, the Prince dined
with two American Generals, his brothers-in-law, and others, and later
met his cousins, Achille and Lucien Murat and Pierre Bonaparte. Achille
Murat was employed at the post-office; Lucien was married to a
school-mistress; Prince Pierre was leading a gay life. The illness of
Prince Louis’ mother brought him back from the United States. He reached
London on July 10, 1837, and, by means of a passport borrowed from a Mr.
Robinson, got to Arenenberg early in August, after frequently evading
the Continental police. Queen Hortense died on October 5, consoled in
her last moments by her son’s presence and Dr. Conneau’s promise that he
would never leave him.[29]

One night in the first week of August, 1840, the walls of
Boulogne-sur-Mer were placarded with proclamations signed “Napoleon.”
These “posters,” which had been printed in London, were headed
respectively, “To the French People,” “To the Army,” and “To the
Inhabitants of the Department of the Pas de Calais” (Boulogne, of
course, included). The “proclamations,” couched in very lofty terms,
aroused no enthusiasm, but much merriment; they were really as amusing
as anything in “Charivari.” “Soldats, aux armes! Vive la France!”--so
ended the appeal to the troops.

Then, on the same wall, the Boulogne burgesses stared their hardest at a
“Decree” which they read without a thrill. “Prince Napoleon, in the name
of the French people, decrees as follows: The Dynasty of the
Bourbons-d’Orléans has ceased to reign” (excusez du peu!) “The French
people has entered into its rights. The troops are relieved from their
oath of fidelity;” with much more similar rhodomontade. Without a
tremor--doubtless with many a wink--Boulogne read that M. Thiers was
appointed President of the Provisional Government, and that all who
showed energetically their sympathy for “the national cause” would be
recompensed “in a striking manner” in the name of the country! One would
like to have seen the faces of the conspirators when the “proofs” of
these grandiloquent pronunciamientos were taken to Carlton Terrace. How
unenterprising of the _Times_, the _Herald_, and the _Post_ not to have
obtained early copies! Nor could those journals have suspected that the
Prince between times--between gallivanting at Lady Blessington’s, riding
one of his two saddle-horses (there were three others) in the Row, and
“beating the town”--the aspiring, talented, and pertinacious Nephew of
the Uncle, had devoted himself to the onerous task of “developing his

1. Alliance of the Empire and the Democracy.
2. Free Trade.
3. The Principle of Nationalities.

All admirable ideas, and all to be carried out one day, but not by
entreating Strasburg troops to mutiny, or by “landings” at

The Boulogne expedition was planned at Carlton Terrace in June, 1840. A
steamer, the _Edinburgh Castle_, was purchased for the Prince,
ostensibly for the use of “some gentlemen who wanted to cruise on the
Scottish coast” (the name of the good ship seemed not altogether
inappropriate). Guns were bought at Birmingham. Uniforms were brought
over from the “Temple,” in Paris--all but the buttons; these were bought
in London, and sewn on by Dr. Conneau! “Servants” were imported from
France; they had all served in the army.

Between August 3 and August 5 the _Edinburgh Castle_ made four trips to
Boulogne. On the night of the 5th the vessel was anchored off Wimereux.
All told, the imperial force numbered sixty-two, including thirty
ex-soldiers (the “servants”). Ammunition, money, and horses were all
taken safely across the Channel. And there was a live Eagle, symbolizing
the return of “the other.” Money had been offered to the douaniers, who
scorned the proffered bribes--a bad omen. The audacious conspirators
went through Boulogne, shouting “Vive l’Empereur!” They tried to get the
42nd Line Regiment to “rise,” but the honest fellows turned deaf ears
to the charmers. A detachment of that regiment attacked the
conspirators. The Prince wanted to die at the foot of the Column of the
Grande Armée, after “running-up” the imperial flag, but he was dragged
away. Pursued by a handful of the National Guard, the conspirators took
to their heels and made for the beach. The Prince and some of his
friends jumped into the sea, hoping to regain “the lugger.” They were
“shot down like ducks.” One was fatally wounded, another was drowned,
others were badly hit. It was said that a bullet grazed the Prince
“without hurting him.” Louis Napoleon, De Persigny, Dr. Conneau, and
Mésonan were picked up by gendarmes, dragged into a boat, and taken to

These things happened on August 6. On the 7th, in the afternoon, the
_Moniteur_ published a statement, signed by the War Minister, Cubières,
that the conspirators had been “driven into the waves, which vomited
them up again. Louis Napoleon and all his adherents have been captured,
killed, or drowned.” The Prince, on the 9th, was taken from the château
at Boulogne to the fortress of Ham. On the 12th he arrived in Paris in a
carriage, escorted by departmental gendarmes and men of the Municipal
Guard. He was kept, until his trial, in the strong-room of the
Conciergerie, three gaolers never leaving him. Even his valet, Charles
Thélin, was not allowed to see his forlorn, but not dejected, master.

While the Prince was under lock and key his ever-faithful valet wrote to
a friend in London the subjoined letter (cited by Baron d’Ambès in his
very remarkable volumes):

PARIS, À LA CONCIERGERIE, _August 21, 1840_.


     You will have sent to Mr. Farquhar the letter which the Prince left
     with you on his departure from London [for Boulogne]. It contains
     his instructions to sell everything except the toilette articles of
     His Highness and of those persons who left them [at the Prince’s
     residence]. As to the cabriolet and the horse, the two sets of
     harness, and the sporting gun, Mr. Farquhar will doubtless have
     already told you that they were the Prince’s gifts to him. The
     Prince thinks that the housemaids and the kitchen servants have
     been discharged with a month’s wages [in lieu of notice].

     You will remain in the house, with Lord Ripon’s chambermaid, until
     further orders. The Prince will allow you £4 a month, besides what
     you are now getting, for your board. You are to preserve all the
     English newspapers which have appeared since the Prince’s
     departure, and send them to him when he asks for them. Keep in the
     house the articles belonging to other persons, and put the name of
     each on the trunks and packages. Arrange all these things so that
     they may be sent off when you get orders about them. See that the
     lodgings of these gentlemen are paid, and tell all the tradespeople
     to apply to Mr. Farquhar for payment of their accounts.

     You are to buy two leather trunks at £3 each, and put in them all
     the things which are in the wardrobe in His Highness’s bedroom,
     with the two pairs of sheets, the two pillows, and the towels in
     the same room which are marked with an “N” and a crown. Put with
     them also the two little nécessaires de toilette, the boots, shoes,
     etc. The two trunks should be got ready for sending away at any
     moment. You are to take for yourself the old red shooting [or
     hunting] coat, the leather breeches and the white breeches, the
     large boots, the green overcoat, the green trousers, the
     hunting-boots, the large brown overcoat, the two vieilles du
     matin, and the hats. In the dressing-room you will find a brand-new

     I left in my room a leather trunk containing my things. You will
     find in a drawer a little box containing some papers and other
     things which I highly value. Take great care of them. There is also
     in my wardrobe some linen for shirts. Take care of my paletot, my
     trousers (if there are any), and my little nécessaire. Do what you
     like with the rest of the things.

     Adieu, my dear friend. The Prince is quite well.


On September 28, 1840, Prince Louis Napoleon and some of his
fellow-conspirators were tried at the Luxembourg before the Cour des
Pairs, M. Pasquier presiding over the tribunal. Fifty-five persons had
been arrested at Boulogne, but only twenty-two were proceeded against.
The Prince was defended by the ablest advocate of his day, Berryer,
whose brief was marked with a fee of £600; with him were MM. Marie and
Ferdinand Barrot. M. Jules Favre defended other of the prisoners.

After President Pasquier had begun the “interrogation of identity,” the
Prince rose and requested permission to read a short written statement
in his defence. He began: “For the first time in my life I am allowed to
raise my voice in France and to speak freely to Frenchmen.”

Towards the end of his address he said: “A last word, gentlemen. I
represent before you a principle, a cause, a defeat. The principle is
the sovereignty of the people; the cause that of the Empire; the defeat,
Waterloo. The principle you have recognized, the cause you have served,
the defeat you wish to avenge.”

The trial lasted until October 6, when the prisoners were sentenced: the
Prince to perpetual imprisonment in a fortress; Montholon, Lombard,
Conneau, and De Persigny to five years’ imprisonment; one was deported;
others were sent to gaol for fifteen, ten, five, and two years.

The Prince heard his fate unmoved. To the greffier he remarked
spiritedly: “Sir, they said formerly that the word ‘impossible’ was not
French; to-day the same may be said of the word ‘perpetual.’”

During the trial the Prince sat in a fauteuil, guarded by two soldiers
with fixed bayonets. He was a trim, alert-looking figure, in frock-coat
and high black stock, wearing to and fro a tall hat.

His six years’ isolation at Ham--a huge fortress, with a moat--converted
Louis Napoleon into a littérateur of almost the first rank. His industry
was excessive. Reams of paper were covered with his straggling, careless
writing, chiefly on military subjects. His foster-sister, Mme. Cornu,
gave him valuable assistance by forwarding books which otherwise he
would probably have been unable to obtain, looking after his
proof-sheets, writing to his publishers, and sending him extracts from
volumes for which she ransacked libraries. When, in his stonemason’s or
bricklayer’s long blouse, cap, and canvas trousers, carrying a plank and
smoking a pipe, he made his escape, “Badinguet” was the father of at
least two children, boys, for whose maintenance and education he made
adequate provision.[30]

On May 27, 1846, Louis Napoleon reached London, and put up at the
Brunswick Hotel, where his name was entered as Comte d’Arenenberg. He is
said to have astonished Lady Blessington and the friends who were dining
with her by appearing at Gore House the same evening. He wrote to the
French Ambassador (M. de Saint-Hilaire, who had been a friend of Queen
Hortense) informing him that he had escaped from Ham solely to revisit
his old father, and that he had no intention of making any more
“attempts” against the French Government, his previous efforts having
resulted so disastrously to himself. The Prince’s widowed father, the
Comte de Saint-Leu, ex-King Louis of Holland, was residing at Florence,
and Louis Napoleon vainly applied to the Austrian Ambassador in London
and to the Grand Duke Leopold for permission to visit his father, who
passed away in the following July.

All that the Comte de Saint-Leu possessed he left to his only surviving
son, Louis Napoleon--his palace at Florence, his landed property at
Civita Nuova, his money, and all his relics of Napoleon I. By his
father’s death the Prince became a comparatively wealthy man. D’Ambès
asserts that he had to his credit at Barings 150,000 francs (£6,000),
and at Farquhar’s 3,000,000 francs (£120,000). We are led to believe
that the Prince was unmercifully “bled” on all sides, and that he was
soon deluged with begging letters from France, Switzerland, and Poland.
“He spends a great deal. He already owns several houses in London, and
has bought a house in Berkeley Street for Miss Howard.”



When Prince Louis Napoleon was rather over twenty-six he wrote to his
father, the Comte de Saint-Leu:[31]

ARENENBERG, _June 5, 1834_.


     Since I wrote to you, the death of Mlle. de P.’s father has
     somewhat changed my marriage plans, for until now I did not know
     any of the ladies whose names had been placed before me. I had
     given attention only to the conventionalities, not to the
     affections, which can only display themselves when one sees people
     personally. Besides, the advantages I saw in the alliance which I
     desired to contract no longer exist, and should I persist in my
     matrimonial views, the best thing I can do is to cast my eyes upon
     Mlle. de Padoue. You will give me much pleasure by replying to me
     on this point, and giving me your advice, although I am in no hurry
     to marry.

     I enclose you a copy of a law just passed by the Government, which
     has evidently been enacted against us, for it cuts short all the
     claims that my family may have respecting the debts owing to it by
     the French Government. In these circumstances, I believe that, if
     it is intended to press the claim, there is only one way of doing
     it--by commencing an action against the Government. It is
     unfortunate that we did not hear earlier of this law, which was
     passed without any noise, so that we might not be enabled to take
     any steps in reference to it.

     I have received a letter from Charlotte, and am going to answer it.

     As I have not been very well for the last month, I am going very
     shortly to take the waters at Baden, near Zurich, for a month.

With sincere attachment,

Your loving and respectful son,


It was not until the following year, 1835, that the question of the
Prince’s marriage was publicly mooted. He was then living with his
mother in Switzerland, at the villa of Arenenberg. It was erroneously
reported that the Prince was about to marry Queen Doña Maria of
Portugal. Not sorry, perhaps, to attract attention by denying in the
Press the report of a marriage which he knew was impossible, the Prince
wrote the following letter to a provincial paper:


     Various journals publish that I am leaving for Portugal in the
     character of a pretender to the hand of Queen Doña Maria. Flattered
     as I am at the thought of an alliance with a young, beautiful, and
     virtuous Sovereign, the widow of a cousin who was dear to me, it is
     my duty to deny this rumour. I may add that, despite the interest I
     feel in a nation which has conquered its liberty, I should
     certainly refuse to share the throne of Portugal, if, by chance, it
     were offered to me.


The historian will search in vain should he attempt to identify the
other ladies “whose names had been placed before” the Prince.

The next heard of is the young Englishwoman, Miss Emily Rowles, of
Camden Place, Chislehurst, the home in later years of the Emperor and
Empress and their son. Miss Rowles indignantly terminated the
engagement--which had been definitively arranged--when she heard of the
relations which existed between the Prince and Miss Howard.

When he was residing in London (1847) the Prince aspired to the hand of
Lady Clementina Villiers, daughter of Lord and Lady Jersey. Lady Jersey,
however, disliked the suitor, and the affair was nipped in the bud. The
Prince had asked Lord Malmesbury if he had any chance of success with
the young lady, and was not encouraged by the reply, which appears to
have been in the nature of a gentle snub.

Miss Burdett-Coutts was not to be won by an adventurous French Prince,
although he was the nephew of Napoleon I.

Turn and turn about the Prince made advances to--

1. The daughter of the Prince de Wasa, husband of a daughter of the
Grand Duchess of Baden (née Stéphanie Louise Adrienne de Beauharnais).

2. Princess Adelaide of Hohenzollern, niece of Queen Victoria’s consort,
and sister of that Prince Leopold whose selection by Prim to occupy the
vacant throne of Spain, in 1870, led up to the war.

3. A daughter of the Prince de Wagram, who “did not please him,” and who
married Prince Joachim Murat.

4. The Infante Marie Christine, a daughter of Don François de Paule, and
sister of the consort of Queen Isabelle II.

Doubtless he had an affection for his cousin, Princesse Mathilde, and
felt a pang when the news reached him, at Ham, of her marriage with the
Russian Prince, Anatole Demidoff. Neither as President of the Republic
nor as Emperor of the French would the royal houses of Europe have
anything to do with the son of Queen Hortense.

Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo, Comtesse de Téba? She was unheard of as yet.

There was never any question in the minds of those who were ever so
little behind the scenes that Napoleon III. so completely “lost his
head” over “the beautiful Spaniard” that he seriously proposed to her
without knowing whither his impetuosity was carrying him. That marriage
was far from the Emperor’s intentions originally is highly probable.
When, however, he saw there was nothing for it but to make the young
lady his Empress, he allowed himself to be led with scarcely a word of
remonstrance and only the faintest of objections. His Majesty had to
deal with an experienced woman of the world in Mme. de Montijo, and with
a clever one in the person of Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo. It was a
question of “marriage or no marriage,” and the ladies gained the day.
The flirtation was remarkably strong while it lasted, and the Emperor
made himself the laughing-stock and butt of most of his monde, whose
ridicule, however, could not divert His Majesty from pursuing his
campaign with infatuated ardour.

Numberless stories are told of this diverting love-chase. Every year, in
October, there was a great gathering of guests at Compiègne. On one of
these occasions a société d’élite sat round a table playing cards while
waiting for tea. It was noticed that Mlle. de Montijo sat on the
Emperor’s right, and, the wives of some of the Ministers being present,
the circumstance was regarded as a sign of the times. The game was
vingt-et-un, and Mlle. de Montijo, who did not seem to be very expert,
consulted her neighbour on the left when she was in doubt what to do.
Presently, after looking at her cards, she showed them to the Emperor,
letting her eyes play the part of an inquirer. Napoleon III. replied,
“Keep them; you have a very good hand.” “No,” she remarked, “they’re not
good enough; I want all or nothing!” and she asked for more cards,
whereupon the dealer tossed her what proved to be an ace. Of course she
won, and she took up the stake with a smile which was interpreted by
those present as the triumph of the will over fortune.

The courting was nearly all done at Compiègne, and Mlle. de Montijo got
herself much talked about by her beauty, her grace, and her coquetry
with the Emperor, who, on his side, was driven almost frantic by the
malicious pleasantries of his uncle, King Jérôme, who, with the
wickedest smile, never omitted to ask the Emperor the first thing every
morning how matters were going. The attitude of the ladies of the Court
towards the woman whom they regarded as a usurper will be best
understood by what follows. One night, as they were going into dinner at
Compiègne, Mlle. de Montijo, conducted by Colonel de Toulongeon, was
walking immediately behind Mme. Fortoul, wife of the Minister of that
name. Quite by accident the first-mentioned couple took precedence of
Mme. Fortoul, who said to her escort, in a tone which all could hear,
“Why did you let that woman pass before us?”

Mlle. de Montijo heard the remark, and almost fainted. Her blue eyes
filled with tears, she ate nothing for dinner, and replied to all the
Emperor’s observations with a profound melancholy. After dinner the
Emperor went up to her and said:

“Are you unwell, mademoiselle?”

“No, sire. Why do you ask?”

“Because I noticed that you ate nothing, and I suppose that----”

“No sire; I repeat, I am not suffering; but here, in this very
room--here, chez vous, I have been insulted in the most flagrant manner,
and I think it my duty to tell your Majesty that I intend to leave
Compiègne this very evening.”

The Emperor begged her to explain, and the young lady told him, as well
as she could through her tears, what had happened.

“Mademoiselle,” said the Emperor, “promise me that you will not leave
Compiègne, and I promise you, in turn, that to-morrow nobody will dare
to insult you.” And the next day came the Emperor’s offer of marriage.

The Emperor’s intention to take to himself a wife was announced on
January 22, 1853, by a speech from the throne, in the course of which
His Majesty said the union which he was about to contract was not in
accordance with political tradition; but that was an advantage. “She who
is the object of my choice is of high birth. French by heart, by
education, by remembrance of the blood which her father shed for the
cause of the Empire, she has, as a Spaniard, the advantage of not having
in France a family upon whom it would be necessary to bestow honours
and dignities. Endowed with all the qualities of the soul, she will be
an ornament to the throne, even as in the hour of danger she will become
one of its courageous supports. Catholic and pious, she will address to
Heaven the same prayers that I myself offer for the happiness of France.
Gracious and good, she will, I firmly hope, revive, in the same
position, the virtues of the Empress Joséphine. Then, gentlemen, I say
to France, ‘I have preferred a woman that I love and respect to an
unknown woman, whose alliance might have had advantages mixed with
sacrifices.’ Presently, at Notre Dame, I shall present the Empress to
the people and to the army. The confidence which they have in me will
cause them to give their sympathies to her whom I have chosen; and you,
gentlemen, when you have learnt to know her, will be convinced that this
time again I have been inspired by Providence.”

Thus did Napoleon III. reverse the policy of his uncle, who divorced and
abandoned a woman who was loved to espouse a daughter of the Cæsars; the
former renounced the possibility of a royal marriage in order to wed a
woman whom he loved. The Court of the Tuileries was greatly divided on
the subject of the Emperor’s marriage. King Jérôme, Drouyn de Lhuys
(Minister of Foreign Affairs), and Persigny (Minister of the Interior)
were, with others, in favour of a dynastic alliance; Morny, Fould, and
the military party (nicknamed “the clan of the amoureux”), at the head
of whom were Edgar Ney, Toulongeon, etc., were for the marriage with the
fair daughter of the Montijos. The Emperor had, however, made up his
mind, and, despite his hesitating, uncertain character, which presently
accentuated itself still more, he resisted all the pressure put upon him
by his family. In vain did Princesse Mathilde throw herself,
theatrically, at his feet, beseeching him to abandon a marriage which
could only lower his prestige; Cæsar was immovable. Drouyn de Lhuys felt
so strongly about the marriage that he asked the Emperor’s permission to
resign his portfolio; but he must have changed his mind when he went to
do homage to Mlle. de Montijo. “I congratulate you,” she said; “I thank
you for the advice which you have given to the Emperor relative to his
marriage. Your advice was similar to mine.”

“The Emperor has betrayed me, then,” said the Minister.

“No; it is not betraying you to render homage to your sincerity, and to
tell me the opinion of a devoted servant--one who has expressed my own
sentiments. Like you, I have represented to the Emperor that he ought to
consider the interests of his throne; but I have not had to be his
judge, and to decide whether he is right or wrong.”

De Morny told one of his colleagues that the Emperor, having once got an
idea into his head, could not be disabused of it. More than one of his
courtiers said: “He is mad, and this marriage is an act of the grossest

If the Emperor believed in his star, so did Mlle. de Montijo place an
implicit reliance upon hers. A gipsy fortune-teller once told her that
she would be a Queen. She might have made a good--nay, a
splendid--marriage long before she set her cap at the Emperor. The Duc
d’Ossuna was madly in love with her, and wished to make her his
Duchess. The Duc de Sesto proposed to her, but she declared she would
only marry a Frenchman.

The Emperor’s private friends were more difficult than the Ministers to
argue with, and he had many a mauvais quart d’heure with Mme. Drouyn de
Lhuys, Mme. Fortoul,[32] and Mme. de St. Arnaud, the latter the wife of
the celebrated Marshal who fought with us in the Crimea. These grandes
dames sneered at the fair interloper, as they considered Eugénie de
Montijo. When they were at Compiègne they did all in their power to snub
her and make her look small. To such a point, indeed, did they carry
their persecution that the victim complained to the Emperor, who,
observing that all the ladies in question were close by, broke a branch
off a tree, and, twisting it into a crown, put it on Eugénie’s head,
with the remark (which all had the satisfaction of hearing), “Take this
until I give you the other!”

Judging by those who are, or were, in a position to know, it would seem
that the Empress was somewhat coquettish. Her Imperial Majesty, however,
never publicly compromised herself, as the ex-Queen Isabella of Spain is
credited with having done. She was flirty, that was all: the sort of
woman that “Gyp” has sketched in “Autour du Mariage”; perhaps “Gyp” got
her idea of Paulette d’Alaly from the former fair ruler of the
Tuileries. “You know,” said the Emperor to one of his Ministers who had
complained of the Empress’s attitude towards him--“you know the Empress
is very hasty, but, au fond, she likes you very much.” She was not,
however, hypocritical, but may be compared to a child who has got tired
of a toy and cries for another. She became possessed of all manner of
fancies, and was exceedingly romantic, while remaining perfectly
mistress of herself.

“It is a delicate question,” writes one of her biographers, “and I
approach it with the greatest circumspection; but was the Empress the
passionnée she was said to be, and was she faithful to the Emperor?
Merely to ask the question was to misunderstand the Empress. Had she any
love intrigues? Was she always the woman who is said to have confessed
to the Emperor before marriage, ‘J’ai aimée, mais je suis restée
Mademoiselle de Montijo’? The answer to this is--‘No; the Empress had no
weaknesses. Yes; the Empress always remained the slave of her marital
duties.’” There were, doubtless, times when it seemed as if she thought
of somebody of more consequence than her imperial consort; but her
leanings in this direction appear to have been platonic--the griserie to
have been of very slight duration. “It was with her as with a fire of
straw, which burnt and burnt, making one think and fear that it was
going to destroy everything. Then the individual who flattered himself
with having set light to it was surprised at the flame which had
illuminated and warmed him, and turned away, his only consolation being
the parody of a celebrated sonnet. The Empress was one of those women
who like to be made (platonic) love to. If she flirted, it was without
real peril to her honour and sans rien céder de son intimité.” When she
was a prominent figure in the salon of the Comtesse de Laborde, it is
told of her that she was “très libre d’allures.” Eugénie de Montijo
tutoyait people very freely, and when she ascended the throne she made
any lady who had been a friend in former days “thou” and “thee” her as
of yore.

Much may be forgiven the Empress in consideration of her bringing up.
From the first she knew what opinion the Emperor really entertained of
her--how he saw in her a beautiful woman whom he had marked down as a
pretty plaything, the toy of a week, a month, or mayhap a year. She
quickly undeceived him, and brought him to his senses almost ere he had
taken leave of them. It must not be forgotten that she was thrown among
those who composed the gayest Court in Europe. Money was of no more
value in the Paris of the “sixties” than it is to-day in the
neighbourhood of Monte Carlo, where a sovereign is thought less of than
a fourpenny-piece in London. That was the time when champagne baths were
the vogue, and beauty was worth ten times the market value of
respectability. Those were the days when adventurers flocked to Paris as
to a promised land, when the Emperor’s favourites--the De Mornys, the De
Persignys, et hoc genus omne--got concessions for every “enterprise”
that fertile brains could devise, and when to be “in the swim” was to be
in the way of making your fortune.

At the reveillon du jour de l’an at the Tuileries--December-January,
1853--the Emperor, in accordance with French custom, kissed all the
ladies on the cheek. He approached Mlle. de Montijo with the same
agreeable object; but she drew back, and, curtseying, said to the
astonished Sovereign, “Sire, only my husband shall ever kiss me.” This
rebuff would have chilled most men, but the Emperor took it very
good-humouredly, although such a display of excessive modesty was a new
experience for him. Among those who had tried to put Mlle. de Montijo on
her guard against the Emperor’s compromising attentions was the Duchesse
de Bassano. “Take care,” said this lady; “you are preparing either
regret or remorse for yourself. But do not forget that I warned you.” A
few days later the engagement was known, and Mlle. de Montijo was able
to write to the Duchesse: “I marry Louis _without_ regret and _without_

Towards the close of 1849--when the poor man whom she had seen under
arrest, after the Boulogne fiasco, was in the second year of his
Presidency--a Spanish gipsy told Mlle. de Montijo that she would marry
an Emperor. The señorita knew very well that at the moment there was not
one marriageable Emperor in existence, and she asked the gitana if she
did not mean a King or a Prince. “No,” was the reply, “I mean an
Emperor--an Emperor of a great country.” “Then it must be Souloque,”
said the Comte de Breda, then a French attaché, “for there is no other
Emperor in the matrimonial market, and he would not be particular as to
the number of his wives.”

The proposed marriage was very obnoxious to some of the Emperor’s
Ministers; but when they began to remonstrate, His Majesty cut them
short with that abruptness which characterized him when his wishes were
opposed. “Gentlemen, there is nothing more to say. My marriage with
Mlle. de Montijo is an arranged affair. I am resolved upon it.”

The discomfited Ministers withdrew, but they did not cease to protest.
There were people whose anger led them to say unpleasant things about
both mother and daughter. The former, they asserted, held a very
free-and-easy salon at her hôtel in the Place Vendôme. People gathered
there after the opera, and the “goings-on” were of the liveliest.
“Adventures” of the young lady in former years were fabricated, and
openly discussed. People who stuck at nothing asserted that she had had
a “past.”

One of the numerous malcontents was M. Thiers, who appears to have had a
sardonic kind of humour. “There is nothing to fear from people who are
only tipsy,” he murmured; “but they are to be dreaded when they get
quite drunk.” The French appreciate this description of wit, and the
saying “went the rounds.”

Prince Napoleon, for reasons, and his sister, Princesse Mathilde, for
none, bitterly inveighed against what they regarded as sheer lunacy on
the Emperor’s part. The Prince, who, as long as there was no legitimate
son of the Emperor in existence, stood next in the succession, had some
sort of excuse for denouncing his cousin’s marriage with “a mere femme
du monde,” who had nothing but her good looks to recommend her.
Princesse Mathilde, who had contracted a most unhappy alliance with
Prince Anatole Demidoff, but had been long freed from her tyrant, made
theatrical appeals to the Emperor to abandon his intention. What was to
be done with a man whose infatuation made him cover with kisses
Nieuwerkerke’s little bust of Mlle. de Montijo?

M. Vieil-Castel, a Rochefort born out of his time, marvelled what the
Emperor would do when an Empress was at the head of a Court numbering
among the officials so many men whose lives were the reverse of
edifying. “Perhaps a day would come when Mlle. de Montijo would see
herself allegorically depicted as a Hercules cleansing the Augean

The Emperor, however, was supported by a few, among whom was the
celebrated Lamartine. Another of the friendly minority declared that His
Majesty was doing the right thing in marrying a lady whom he loved, and
refusing to bargain for “some scrofulous German Princess with feet as
large as a man’s.”

Before the projected marriage was officially announced, Princesse
Mathilde gave a ball. Among the guests were the Emperor, the Duc de
Morny, the Comtesse de Montijo, and her daughter. The Marquise de
Contades wrote, in later years, of this entertainment: “The Emperor, as
usual, paid the greatest attention to Mlle. de Montijo. For more than an
hour she and the Emperor were engaged in a confidential chat, which no
one had the audacity to interrupt. Mlle. de Montijo bears herself easily
and gracefully. _She and her mother_ both hope _for a marriage, and all
their diplomacy is directed to securing it_. Everybody courts Mlle. de
Montijo, curries favour with her, and seeks her intervention with the
Emperor on their behalf. Ministers make much of her. She goes to all the
fêtes. She is the actual rising sun.”

Mlle. de Montijo, Comtesse de Téba, in November and December, 1852, and
in the following month, monopolized attention in Paris. When she
appeared in her box at the opera (Mauget tells us) people had no ears
for the music, but they had eyes to see the young lady’s peerless
loveliness and graceful bearing. Nothing else mattered. She looked the
Empress. The courrieristes of the papers followed her about; nothing
escaped their lynx eyes. In newspaper argot, she made splendid “copy.”

“Yesterday and to-day the Comtesse de Téba, accompanied by her mother,
the Comtesse de Montijo, visited several shops on the boulevards and in
the Rue Vivienne. The future Empress, being recognized by the crowd, was
most sympathetically greeted. The hearts of all were conciliated by her
simple yet distinguished manners, and by the alms which she bestowed
upon several poor women whom she encountered during her stroll.”

Sharp-tongued ladies like the Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy (but this
amiable person is not of much account) had an abundance of cutting
things to say of Mlle. de Montijo when she had won the imperial crown.
For example: “The Empress has a great taste for jeux d’esprit--I do not
know why, for it is not by excess of brilliancy in this direction that
she shines.” And M. Irénée Mauget[33] is even more unflattering: “Of
changeable disposition, she lacked judgment and reason. She was
excessively nervous. Very impulsive, she acted under the influence of
good or bad moods, and slighted and wounded many people by her unjust
anger, regretting afterwards the pain she had caused. She was not
untruthful.... Her sudden elevation, although not unforeseen, dazzled
her--stunned her somewhat. Not having been born to occupy a throne, the
transition was too brusque. She lacked proportion, and wanted to appear
too much the Empress. She continued to be very much attached and very
faithful to some of those who had been her intimates in early days, but
she was capricious to most of the others, giving and withholding her
favours with disconcerting fickleness. She was not loved like the
Emperor. When she appeared in public she acknowledged with inimitable
grace the salutations she received, and the French, very gallant, were
won by this charm.... Had she been solidly educated she would have been
capable of exercising the absolute power which she coveted.”

M. Mauget apparently shares M. Rochefort’s unfavourable opinion of the
Comtesse de Montijo, who, simultaneously with her daughter’s advancement
in life, was said to have become miserly. “She made purchases right and
left, and sent the bills to her daughter, sometimes to the Emperor. But
Napoleon, always strongly épris of Eugénie, often shut his eyes at his
mother-in-law’s demands and revelled in the delights of the honeymoon.
Was it the same with Eugénie? We may be permitted to doubt it. What she
loved especially in her husband was the Emperor.”

The Madrid journals waxed enthusiastic over the engagement--_e.g._, the
_España_ (January 26, 1853):

     It is a Spanish woman who is going to impart to the throne of a
     great nation the lustre of her grace. The Comtesse de Téba, who was
     the ornament of our aristocracy, is about to assume the purple of
     the Cæsars, and share the destiny of him who is at once the heir of
     the man of the century and the conqueror of anarchy.... The lustre
     of a throne, however brilliant, will not eclipse the lustre of
     Marie Eugénie’s eyes, and the fortune which is crowning her with
     all its gifts will not alter the noble serenity of her heart. For
     the glory of our country we express the wish, and have the firm
     expectation, that the former pearl of Castilian aristocracy will be
     the best of French women.

The Duchesse de Dino wrote:

NICE, _January 21, 1853_.

     Letters received here from Paris always turn upon the same
     subject--the marriage of Louis Napoleon. I read in the newspapers
     the surprising speech which he made to the Senate and the
     Constituted Bodies [announcing his marriage].

     The sister of Mme. de Montijo married Lesseps, formerly a Consul.
     There is a little relationship toute gentille! Eugénie has chosen
     as her witnesses the Duc d’Ossuna and the Marquis de Bedmar, who
     have promised to lead her to the altar. They wanted to marry the
     son of Jérôme[34] to Mlle. de Wagram, but he recoiled in view of
     the Clary relationship, which he deemed beneath his dignity. That
     is flattering to the King of Sweden! What tohu-bohu all this is!

NICE, _January 22, 1853_.

     It is decidedly a _love_ marriage which Louis Napoleon is making.
     They tell me that Mlle. de Montijo, who was educated at a Paris
     pension, is very beautiful, and of high birth _on her father’s
     side_. Her mother is the daughter of an English Consul, which
     explains the English kind of beauty--not at all Spanish--of the new
     _Empress_; for it is not a question of morganatic forms; so, _point
     de princesse_. I am charmed. But what a responsibility, at the age
     and with the health of the _sposo_, to have a young wife,
     beautiful and Southern! And that in the Bonaparte entourage and in
     the atmosphere which envelopes it.

     Here are some other details, which I have gleaned from my letters
     from Paris, which are full of nothing but the marriage.

     Mlle. de Montijo’s age is from twenty-five to twenty-seven; of
     great beauty, with _auburn_ hair, which she gets from her Irish
     mother; she has a bold look. It is said that, as they were playing
     cache-cache in the saturnalia of Compiègne, the Emperor discovered
     her concealed behind the curtain of a room, where, believing he was
     alone with her, he tried to embrace her, and that she pushed him
     away, saying, “Not before I am Empress.” Another person who was
     similarly concealed professes to have heard these words.

     Legitimists and Orleanists are charmed with this matrimonal affair
     and with all that it promises.

NICE [_after the marriage_].

     The Empress is very beautiful. They say her only imperfection is
     that she looks much taller when seated than she actually is when
     standing up. She says that, in sacrificing her freedom and her
     youth, she gave more than she received; but _she lets herself be
     adored_. The ladies have a down-on-the-ground look, but decent. The
     decorations of Notre Dame were splendid, but the Cardinals did not
     make much of an appearance; in fact, excepting M. de Bonald, not
     one of them is of good family.

     On returning [from the cathedral to the Palace] the imperial
     carriage, which was surmounted by a large crown, was passing under
     the archway of the Pavillon de l’Horloge when the horses stopped,
     unable to proceed. The surprised coachman whipped them, and then
     the obstacle to their progress fell: it was that crown, which was
     too high to pass under the arch, and, when it fell, was broken to
     atoms. _Ominous!_

_February 6, 1853_.

     Mme. d’Avenas writes to my daughter that two days before her
     marriage the Empress Eugénie went to [the convent of] the
     Sacré-Cœur, Paris, in which she had passed some years of her
     infancy--Mme. d’Avenas happened to be there also, and thought the
     Empress charming, natural, and simple--wanting to see once more all
     the souvenirs of her youth, even to the lay-sister who used to wash
     her. This visit has had a good effect in the pious world.

Another correspondent wrote to the Duchesse de Dino’s son (February 15),
telling him of the flood of sonnets, pamphlets, and riddles which
inundated the Empress’s salons. “As to me,” this unknown Parisian said,
“the Empress made a conquest of me at Notre Dame--not by her beauty, but
by her dignity and her pious, thoughtful bearing.”

The Maréchale d’Albuféra gave the Duchesse a specimen of the jokes made
about the Empress. The Maréchale, after noting that “the Empress has
blue eyes, and paints her eyebrows and eyelashes black,” asked, “Do you
know why the Empress Eugénie is the best horsewoman in France? Because
she leapt over the barrière du Trône! This is one of the jokes with
which we amuse ourselves here.”

The Duchesse, as a talented diplomatist, noted: “The Empress, _until
now_, decides nothing for herself. She submits everything to the
Emperor, even as to the dress which she ought to wear.”

On December 7, 1860, the Duchesse wrote:

     The Empress’s annoyance with Fould arose from two causes. When the
     Duc d’Albe came to see him about the funeral of his wife [the
     Empress’s sister] Fould replied, “That is a matter for the pompes

     The Empress wanted to sell some of her diamonds for “Peter’s
     Pence.” Fould heard of her intention, and told the Emperor of

The foreign Powers did not display particular alacrity in “recognizing”
Napoleon III. There seemed to be much curiosity anent the genealogy of
the Emperor’s future bride, and an elaborate statement was issued by the
Heralds’ College at Paris, informing all whom it might concern that the
lady who was about to become Empress of the French belonged “to the
House of Guzman, whose origin dates back to the earliest times of the
Spanish Monarchy,” several historians asserting that the Guzmans were
the issue of royal blood. “All the branches of this family have played a
distinguished part in history. Amongst them were the Dukes of Medina,
Las Torres, Medina-Sidonia, and Olivares; the Counts of Montijo, of Téba
(or Téva), and of Villaverde; the Marquis de Ardales, the Marquis de la
Algera, etc., grandees of Spain. The Duchesse de Téba, Comtesse de
Montijo, descends from this last branch. This is not the first time this
family has been called to ascend the throne, for in 1633 a daughter of
the eighth Duke of Medina-Sidonia married the King of Portugal, Dom Juan
IV. of Braganza. The Counts of Montijo have the same arms as the Dukes
of Medina-Sidonia; they are near relations, and bear the same name,
which is De Guzman.”



The Empress, to say it for the thousandth time, was incomparably
beautiful, “divine,” and, like most pretty women--although a Sovereign,
and perhaps because she was a Sovereign--liked people to occupy
themselves about her, liked to be courted. “Although romantic, her
physical sense did not seek emotions which are foreign to those which
the most elementary virtue imposes upon a woman. Her heart was in no
wise desirous of sensations such as those which agitate tender and
sentimental women.” She was neither “tender” nor “sentimental.” She
loved the Emperor. When they were apart, her thoughts were always with
him. Her letters prove it. Once, on her fête-day, she wrote: “This year
again I have passed to-day far from the Emperor. This makes the day
sadder; but I hope to rejoin him very soon.”

A phrase uttered by the Empress provoked some harsh criticism at the
time, and has been, even to this day, quoted against her. It was
ungraciously and unjustly assumed that she had special ideas on virtue.
But there is really nothing in her remark to justify the implication
that she took advantage of that moral freedom which she sometimes
apparently seemed disposed to favour.

It was at the Tuileries that, in the early years of the reign, she was
credited with saying:

     One cannot guard young girls too closely, cannot keep them too far
     from danger and evil. I constantly watch over them and their
     surroundings. As to married women, that is another matter, and I
     admit that I am indifferent about them. Their virtues and their
     weaknesses are to me perfectly equal: that is their business. They
     can look after themselves. And, besides, have they not their
     husbands to protect and watch over them?

Brought up in a milieu quite foreign to any Court (that of Spain always
excepted), the Empress, as Sovereign, sometimes lacked that overpowering
gravity which women destined to reign are taught from the cradle. She
believed sincerely, and without arrière pensée, that it was open to her
to enjoy life as she found it. She saw no harm in causing the hearts of
men to beat with sentiments which really only flattered her. She was
curious to read the souls of others; and the adulation bestowed upon her
interested and moved her as a powerful romance would have done. In a
word, she was the popular idol. She knew that she was adored, and,
receiving all this homage in a perfectly passive manner, felt that she
was surrounding herself by friends and devoted admirers, whose sole
object was to serve her and to love her. Besides, she was very fond of
discussion and argument, and consequently sought the society of men
capable, by their esprit, of entertaining her.

Fully aware that a person cannot charm and fascinate people without
taking some little trouble over it, the Empress, before talking to a
politician, a savant, an author, or an artist of any kind, “got up” her
subjects, and made up her mind as to what she must say in order to take
the man captive. Moreover, she was as careful to conquer him by the
attractions of her person as by those of her conversation; and when she
had captured him, when she felt assured that he belonged to her--“when,”
in her own phrase, “she found his homage agreeable and amusing,” when
she knew that she had stirred his heart, then, and only then, she
checked the pretty poem or the half-finished sketch, and wrote with her
own fair hand at the bottom of the page which she had read the one word
“Fin!” All this was, no doubt, imprudent, and not in conformity with the
gravity which ought to have been hers: it may even have been cruel; but
what pretty (and virtuous) woman will rise to blame the Empress? What
pretty (and virtuous) woman will dare to say that she has never acted in
the same way in the drawing-rooms which she frequents? And what man, not
entirely virtuous, but amoureux, has not been the victim of similar
feminine perfidies? “Le péché veniel des unes, les bourgeoises;
deviendrait-il le péché mortel des autres, les reines?” Shall we be
wrong in answering the question in the negative?

From the outset the Empress displayed no little fickleness, now
lavishing attentions upon those who pleased her, then suddenly
dismissing them with a word or a gesture, and henceforth ignoring them.
She appeared to act upon uncontrollable impulses, the most glaring
temperamental defect in her otherwise generous nature. It was one of the
“defects of her qualities,” calling less for censure than for record in
an impartial narrative. With all this, however, the Empress was loyal
and susceptible of great devotion to her friends, and one sought without
finding anything approaching egotism or vaingloriousness in her many
inconsistencies. When she gave her hand to a woman or a man she was
perfectly sincere, and when she sealed a friendship, or an attachment,
with some signal mark of her approbation, she did so in all good faith
and in all honour. The Emperor deplored, and with reason, the
waywardness displayed by his consort in the choice of her friends, and
had often to allay the bitter enmities and discontent which she
heedlessly, and perhaps unconsciously, aroused.

The cynical saying of François I., “Souvent femme varie,” might have
been applied to the Empress, who was as fickle in her sensations as in
her sentiments. She was a Spaniard, and to that fact may be attributed
her somewhat eccentric manner. Her character was truly remarkable; she
took all sorts of fancies into her head: was very romantic even while
remaining practical, prosaic, and mistress of herself. In her romantic
disposition the Empress, strange to say, found a certain strength, as
letters written by her in the first year of her marriage confirm. One of
these epistles may be cited in proof of this view of her character.

The Empress, much pressed by Mme. de M., one of the leading members of
the Legitimist party, to obtain for her husband a diplomatic post, did
not rest until she had gratified the applicant’s wishes. It should not
be forgotten that the Emperor always cherished the idea of rallying to
his dynasty the notabilities of the Faubourg St. Germain, and showed
every courtesy to those Legitimists who attended the Court of the
Tuileries. It is doubtful if the Empress seconded his efforts in this
direction, but in the matter alluded to she certainly laid herself out
to do a kindly action.

“Mme. de M.,” wrote the Empress to the Emperor, “wants the vacancy at
The Hague for her husband, and I much wish him to have it.” She added,
as one who was worried by repeated applications of this kind: “Comme ça
on me laisserait tranquille!”

A week afterwards the Empress wrote: “I saw Mme. de M. on Sunday, and
she seemed perfectly satisfied.”

Writing immediately afterwards about another lady--also one of the
Royalist group--for whom she had done something, Her Majesty said: “As
to Mme. de C., up to now she hasn’t uttered a word of thanks to me. If
you should see her--especially if you should see her husband--say that
he does not owe his post entirely to his personal merits. As to
gratitude, I have my own opinion about that; and, as I never expect any,
I am never disappointed.”

These letters reveal a melancholy philosophy, throwing much light upon
the Emperor’s entourage, and showing that, if the Sovereigns did their
utmost to conciliate members of all parties, they were too often
rewarded only with ingratitude by those on whom they had bestowed
favours, or to whom they had accorded high positions in the public

That the Empress, strong in her own virtue, should have been grievously
pained, and sometimes exasperated, by her inflammatory consort’s
peccadilloes is not very surprising. That there were “scenes” was but
natural. It was, then, all the more to her credit that in public she
invariably showed the Emperor the greatest deference; even in her own
apartments, if he appeared, as he sometimes did, when the Empress was
entertaining friends, she would rise directly he entered the room, and
make him a profound reverence. At one time, too, she sought to amuse the
Emperor in a variety of ways, and when one or other of her suite
mustered up sufficient courage to repeat to her the rumours and the
cancans of the hour, Her Majesty would remark: “Really, they blame us
for amusing ourselves at the Tuileries! Surely the very least I can do
is to give some distraction to the poor Emperor (who is ennuyé all day
by politics), and show him some pretty women!”

It need hardly be said that the observation, coupled with what the
Empress had previously said touching the conjugal fidelity of women
generally, did not tend to diminish the reputation for légèreté which
she had acquired even before her accession to the throne. This
frivolity, although perhaps it was more apparent than real, was made the
most of by certain ladies, and particularly by the Princesse de

That there were evil counsellors among his consort’s bosom friends none
knew better than the Emperor, who said to her:

     You admit to your most intimate friendship a heap of people who do
     not wish either of us any good, and who are no better than spies.
     You tell them a thousand things without thinking of what you are
     saying. Nigra [he was the Italian Ambassador], Metternich, and the
     rest only “spoon” you to get your secrets out of you! You may take
     it as certain that every word you say to them, or in their
     hearing, finds its way to Turin or Vienna. You place too much
     reliance in them, and in return for your confidence they are for
     ever doing their best to “pump” you.

Did not events prove that the Emperor was right?

Quite early in the reign the Empress became a dissatisfied and
disappointed woman. Many untoward circumstances combined to produce,
with welcome intervals, a disorganization of the family life at the
Tuileries, or wherever the Court happened to be. There were, too, those
famous charades, remarkable for the lavish display of feminine charms,
and resulting in much hostile criticism at second-hand. This
entertainment was referred to by the Empress in a letter written by her
to the Emperor (July 13, 1860):

     I thank you for your welcome letter. I am much better now than I
     was a few days ago. When I left Fontainebleau I felt ill both in
     mind and body, having been feverish, and suffering from an
     irritation of the chest which compelled me on two successive days
     to go to bed soon after I was up. The weather and the calm of St.
     Cloud have worked wonders for me, and you will find me in good
     health and delighted to see you.

     Your philosophic reflections are very beautiful; the thing is to
     put them in practice. I am very weak against that malice which is
     not based upon _hatred_. When, by chance, I find in my way people
     endeavouring to make mischief out of nothing, and tearing
     reputations to tatters for lack of something better to do, I feel
     inexpressibly sad, because I say to myself: “One must be very
     wicked to find pleasure in vexing and injuring those with whom one
     shakes hands, for not only do the blows show, but defiance takes
     the place of all other sentiments, and, as the anonymous is masked
     by friendship, we distrust people without knowing why.” These are
     the reasons why you found me so sad lately at Fontainebleau.

     That innocent charade, unveiled by the papers, was described in a
     manner which shows it to have been supplied by somebody who was
     present at the performance, and who got it published either out of
     malice or to satisfy people’s curiosity. It must have been
     published by a friend, or, at least, by a guest, and this is one of
     those things to which I cannot get accustomed. I shall always be
     strong against my enemies; I cannot say I shall ever be so against
     my friends.

     If those who seek to deprive us of the little time that we have for
     enjoying the air and for liberty knew how precious this time is to
     those who are condemned to the preoccupations of the present and
     fears for the future, they would leave us this oasis, where we try
     to forget that we must march, always march, with the passions of
     some and the fears of others.

     I have written you this long letter to explain to you that the
     little tear in the corner of my eye has not even dropped. My eight
     pages are sprinkled with orthographical blunders, which give
     originality to my letter, and prove that when I write to you I
     forget myself.

Does not this letter show the Empress at her best?

Mlle. de Montijo, wrote M. de Mazade in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_
shortly after her engagement, “impressed one by a sort of virile grace,
which might easily have made her a heroine of romance, and before
assuming the imperial diadem she proudly wore that crown of hair whose
colour a Venetian painter would have loved.”

The relations which existed between the Emperor and Empress used to be
discussed in the most unreserved fashion, not only in Paris clubs and
salons, but in many London circles. All manner of stories were told
about their Majesties. Some strong sidelights are thrown upon the lives
of the imperial couple by Mme. Carette, in her entertaining “Souvenirs.”
If that estimable woman be accurate (and as she was “reader” to the
Empress for several years, she should be, and, I have been recently
informed, is, a competent witness), the trouble began some eight years
after the marriage, by which time “the Empress had known more than one

“The Emperor,” says Mme. Carette, whose resemblance to the Empress seems
to have been very marked, “led away by his old habits of pleasure, by
the easy manners of some of those by whom he was surrounded, was not
invariably mindful of his consort’s feelings as Sovereign and wife. The
Empress, in all the splendour of her youth and beauty, had made
acquaintance with the subtle poison which corrupts all which is most
delicate in woman’s heart. After distractions, some of which had a
regrettable notoriety, the Emperor, who, like many men, attached no
importance to his fleeting liaisons, appeared to be always surprised
that he had wounded his wife’s feelings at a time when she occupied the
largest place in his life. Sisterly friendship had supported the Empress
in these trying experiences. The Duchesse d’Albe, all sweetness and
tenderness, consoled her sister, whose ardent nature increased her
sufferings tenfold. She helped the Empress to reconcile herself to her
hours of trouble and bitterness and to find strength to pardon [the
Emperor]. When the Duchesse d’Albe died, the Empress felt for the first
time the loneliness which grandeur brings with it. She remained alone
with her grief, with nothing to distract her, having no courage to
fulfil her worldly duties. Her health suffered greatly, and the doctors
urged the Emperor to persuade her to travel in order to remove the
painful strain which she was enduring. The Empress accordingly left on a
visit to Scotland, where she remained a few weeks.[36] She returned to
Paris much improved in health, ready to take up the duties of her
position, but she had been irremediably touched by her melancholy
situation. From that time dated a profound change in her tastes, as well
as in her habits. Her youthfulness seemed to have vanished, and under
the charming features of the woman ripened by sorrow appeared the
Sovereign whom one had not hitherto seen.”

When Napoleon III. was writing his “Life of Cæsar,” and casting
ambitious glances at a chair in the Academy, a poet wrote a few verses
on the Emperor’s work, referring to him as the “greatest Cæsar of these
later years.” In return for this compliment the Emperor sent his
panegyrist a diamond ring and an invitation to call at the Tuileries.
The Emperor received him very graciously, and, after some casual talk,
asked him if he were married. “No, sire,” was the reply. “Why don’t you
marry? Would you marry a lady who is young, beautiful, of ardent
disposition, and with a handsome dowry, if you met such a one who was
willing to have you?” The young man began to wonder if he was in, not
the Palace of the Tuileries, of the glories of which he had heard and
read so much, but in Aladdin’s cave. But, though dazed at the prospect,
he speedily recovered himself, and replied: “Yes, sire, I should be only
too happy.” “Well, then,” said the Emperor, “come here to-morrow night
at ten o’clock, and I will present you to her.”

At the appointed time the poet, still rather fancying that he was
dreaming, entered the Palace, and was immediately ushered into the
Emperor’s cabinet. Napoleon III. was in morning dress; he donned a large
cloak and a hat which concealed his identity, and led the poet to a side
door. A carriage was waiting, and in it they were driven to a bijou
villa which stood in spacious grounds in a retired part of Paris.

“My dear Marie,” said the Emperor to the beautiful woman, scarcely more
than a girl just out of her teens, “allow me to present my friend,
Monsieur ----, who comes as a suitor for your hand.” With this the
Emperor retired, and was seen no more!

The poet found the lady quite willing to accept his wooing, and, knowing
that the imperial favour depended upon his discretion, did not make any
inquiries as to madame’s history. A few weeks later they were quietly
married, and the husband found that his bride’s dowry was the handsome
sum of £100,000. He was never again invited to the Tuileries, nor did he
ever have another interview with the Emperor. To his surprise, one
morning he received an appointment in the Diplomatic Service in a
distant country. Needless to say, he accepted the post, and resided,
with his wife, at the scene of his labours until his death more than a
quarter of a century ago. His widow returned to Paris and married a
Russian noble. When the news of the poet-diplomatist’s death reached
Paris, General Fleury, who knew the faiblesses of Napoleon III. better
than most men, pleasantly remarked: “Ah! he was a lucky fellow to get
such a wife; but it was hard luck for the Emperor to have to pay such a
price to get rid of so charming an encumbrance!”

Mlle. de Montijo had not been an Empress many weeks before her greatness
and the luxe by which she was surrounded began to be distasteful. “She
had never loved the Emperor. Her heart remained faithful to the Marquis
d’Alcanises, her former fiancé. The Marquise de Bedmar, one of Her
Majesty’s Spanish friends, told me that the Empress said to her, on the
eve of the wedding: ‘If Alcanises came to fetch me, I would go away with
him!’ But Alcanises never came, and, some years later, when he was the
Duc de Sesto, married the widow of the Duc de Morny.”[37]

The strict etiquette which the Emperor insisted should be observed
weighed upon the lady who had hitherto revelled in complete
independence, while she was exasperated at the surveillance of the
Palace ladies, even the domestics. This irritation disappeared as if by
magic after she and her consort had visited Queen Victoria and the
Prince Consort, and seen how things were done at the model English
Court. How bored she was she showed very plainly in a letter written to
one of the friends of the old days, begging to be “thou’d” as in former
times: “Je suis seule dans mon palais, et très chagrinée des bouderies
[sulkiness] que je sens autour de moi.”

A collection of what M. Mauget describes as “Notes of a Member of the
Imperial Police” provides curious reading:

_March 8, 1853._

     The Comtesse de Montijo is still residing in Paris, and it is said
     that her influence is by no means so trifling as some have believed
     it to be. At the last soirée M. Fould[38] was very assiduous in his
     attentions to her. That is not surprising when one recalls the
     intrigante of the salon at Madrid.

_March 24, 1853._

     Mme. de Montijo has left [Paris] on very bad terms with the august
     occupants of the Tuileries.

     The _Journal d’Indre-et-Loire_ reports the arrival at Tours of the
     Comtesse de Montijo, _accompanied by M. Mérimée_.

     Everybody knows the amount of scandal talked at Paris concerning
     the former relations of the author of “Colomba” and the Comtesse de

     The same people who discuss the Comtesse also talk a great deal
     about the Empress. People maliciously pretend to pity her. They say
     she lives in a state of constraint which afflicts her all the more
     because it is such a great contrast to the freedom she enjoyed
     before her unexpected elevation. It is said that letters addressed
     to her are first taken to the Emperor, who, when replies are sent,
     himself dictates the answers, without the Empress being informed
     either that anyone has written to her, or that someone has answered
     the letters in her name. This manner of acting could not last long
     without her becoming aware of it, and she has exhibited the
     greatest irritation. Very lively scenes between the Emperor and his
     wife have taken place. Those who know her imperious character say
     they would not be surprised if the Empress, abandoning all her
     grandeurs, fled to Belgium or to England.

_March 25, 1853._

     It is asserted that if the Empress’s mother left Paris several days
     ago it was because she had received a positive order to do so from
     the Emperor, who had been informed of the scandalous conduct, past
     and present, of his mother-in-law. The Empress is said to have been
     greatly annoyed at the compulsory departure of her mother. There
     had been a women’s quarrel; Princesse Mathilde said recently: “If
     the Emperor had wanted an Impératrice mère, he would have sought
     one elsewhere.”

_April 1._

     The Empress’s condition is the subject of much sympathy. To
     profound ennui has succeeded an intense melancholy.

_April 5._

     People continue to describe the Empress as being tired of
     everything. She cannot forget the complete freedom she enjoyed
     before her marriage. Sometimes she allows herself to play childish
     tricks upon the Emperor. The other day, when they were walking
     together in the garden, the Emperor stooped to examine some plants.
     The Empress thought it amusing to push him from behind, so that he
     fell on all fours.

_April 20._

     It is believed that the Empress is enceinte.

_May 5._

     The Duchesse d’Albe is coming to Paris. It is stated that the
     Comtesse de Montijo wished to accompany her, but, by a special
     order, the Emperor has forbidden her to do so.

_May 25._

     Yesterday the Emperor went out without the Empress. The Empress is
     still ailing, and people continue to talk about it. Her sufferings
     are more mental than physical. She cannot accustom herself to the
     etiquette imposed upon her by the Emperor. He is suspicious and
     severe to excess. At the least infraction by the Empress of the
     rules imposed upon her she is reminded of it with a frigidity
     which, to her, is worse than harshness.

     When the Emperor sees that some lady has the particular confidence
     of the Empress, he hastens to get rid of her. This is what happened
     to Mme. Aguado. This dame d’honneur is greatly beloved by the
     Empress, and the two often talk in Spanish. The Emperor does not
     know that language, so he gave Mme. Aguado her congé. The Empress’s
     supplications had no effect upon the Emperor. This has deeply
     wounded her. It is said to have been one of the causes of the
     fausses couches.

_May 28._

     The Empress always occasions much talk. The following was said
     yesterday à propos of the announcements published by the _Moniteur_
     concerning Her Majesty’s privileges:

     The Empress is of a stubborn, scoffing disposition, which adapts
     itself with difficulty to all the fictions of her imperial
     existence. Some are privileged to arouse her spirit of fun. She
     laughed heartily when she was informed of M. de Persigny’s report
     and the imperial decree regulating her privileges, and it was with
     a gaiety ill according with the event that she signed the
     documents. As she scribbled her name she turned towards the Emperor
     with the remark: “You see, sire, that I somewhat imitate your Corps
     Législatif--I sign blindly.”

In the years that were before Chislehurst the name “Empress Eugénie”
signified the most radiant incarnation of beauty under which a woman
could appear in order to dazzle, to touch and captivate, assemblies of
men; it signified generosity of heart, inexhaustible charity, virtue,
modest serenity in bearing the weight of fortune’s favours, an elevated
intelligence open to the comprehension of all great things, a free and
tolerant mind, a sweet and pitying piety. It was no secret that she was
pleased by heroic deeds, but, as Providence had not as yet afflicted her
with the heaviest trials which the human heart can bear, she was not
thoroughly known. To-day the same name signifies patriotism even unto
sacrifice, chivalrous abnegation, courage, disinterestedness unexampled
in history, dignity supreme in misfortune, resignation to unhappiness,
and never-failing patience in the woes and duties of exile.

This double character of her destiny has stamped upon the physiognomy
and the person of the Empress a pathetic expression which strikes those
who have not seen her often of late years. It is with a tender and
sympathetic respect that one contemplates the widow of Napoleon III. and
mother of the Prince Imperial, enveloped in sombre vestments, but, in
the winter of her days, more beautiful than ever, if the supreme
expression of beauty is that of the ideal. She evokes in our imagination
the picture of Marie Stuart at Holyrood or on the banks of Lochleven.
The look of melancholy, which has become a second nature, cannot efface
the sweetness and charm which will be always hers. It is her tranquil
and touching majesty which reveals the


         Lord Kitchener.
The Hon. Charlotte Knollys.  The King of Denmark.     King Edward.
   Queen Alexandra.       The Empress.            Princess Beatrice of Coburg.


     _From a Photograph by J. Russell & Sons, Baker Street, London,
     Photographers to H.M. the King.

     Specially prepared by Messrs. Russell for this work (1911)._

_To face p. 64._]

woman beneath the Sovereign, the tenderness of the heart under the
height of the rank; but there is, besides, the victorious prestige
conferred upon her by misfortune heroically borne. That power of
attraction which would have made Napoleon I. say of her as he said of
Joséphine, “I win the battles, she wins the hearts,” is now shown afresh
by the emotion which is aroused as we gaze upon her venerable figure.

“Dans toute grande chose il s’est toujours rencontré une femme,” said
Lamartine; and there will be found in history certain epochs--the most
brilliant ones--which are incarnated for posterity in a feminine
personality. The Empress represents, in the most fascinating guise, the
greatness of one or other of those epochs--the noble impulses, the
generous inspirations, the heroisms, the radiant dawns, and the
grandiose twilights. Such women impress their personality upon their
contemporaries by their witchery, for they are beautiful even to
idealism. In their souls they are still more perfect; they achieve
conquest by their suffering, for, in order that they may be quite
complete in all things, misfortune touches their brow with its black
wing. And behold them become, for all men to remember, the eternal
radiance, the eternal compassion, of history, of poetry, of legend.

In the sixteenth century such a personality as is here depicted was
called Marie Stuart; in the seventeenth, Henrietta Maria, daughter of
Henri Quatre, and wife of Charles I.; in the eighteenth, Marie
Antoinette. With an incontestable moral superiority over all these, the
Empress Marie Eugénie lengthens this list by the purity of her name, and
will remain the touching symbol of that part of the history of France
known as the Second Empire.

Writing one day to Napoleon III., the Empress said: “My life is
finished, but I live again in my son, and I believe I shall find the
truest happiness in that which comes into my heart from his.” Never was
the maternal sentiment more beautifully expressed than in those pathetic
words. Into the heart of this mother entered many joys and ineffable
happiness. Who, looking upon that son of Cæsar, whose visage had all the
sweetness of his mother’s united to the virility of his father’s, could
fail to have believed that he, too, would be the hero of a new and great
chapter of history? Who was not tempted to apply to him the phrase of
Virgil: “Tu Marcellus eris”? They had no presentiment of the invasion,
the defeats, the captivity, the vanishing of the father, the tragedy in
the mealie-fields.

In the broad ways of the once beleaguered city there reappears ever and
anon the silhouette of the woman who aforetime filled it with her grace,
her splendid beauty, her charity, and her solicitude.

Her letters to the Emperor before their marriage displayed so much more
literary skill than Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo was supposed to possess
that ill-natured people asserted they were written by that attached
friend of the Montijos, Prosper Mérimée. This is to charitably suppose
that Napoleon III. invited his friends to peruse the letters addressed
to him by “the beautiful Spaniard” during the period of his ardent
wooing--a course which would have been entirely foreign to his loyal
nature. The Emperor probably destroyed his fiancée’s letters; if not,
they must be among the mass of papers preserved at Farnborough Hill, to
remain unpublished until the expiration of fifty years after the
Empress’s death.

From her own chaplet of memories I cull these few blossoms:

     _Neither the mother nor the child is responsible for the faults of
     the father._

     _We should practise a policy of ideas, not of expedients._

     _Is it not too absurd to say that on September 4 (1870) I was
     afraid? What woman, what Sovereign, seeing her husband betrayed by
     fate, a prisoner; her son wandering about, perhaps dead; her
     country invaded and devastated; her crown lost--who would have
     thought at such a moment of her personal security, and who would
     not have preferred death a hundred times to so many sorrows?_

     _I have an absolute confidence in the power of truth. I summon with
     my whole strength all that can hasten its coming. It will
     appear--it appears already. Calumnies arise from time to time, like
     the unhealthy vegetation of the tropics; but the sun kills the one,
     the light of truth destroys the others, and their ephemeral and
     evil life leaves no traces._

     _I cannot die. And God, in His clemency, will give me a hundred
     years of life._

     _We must not destroy the legends which the peoples weave round
     their Sovereigns._

     _I am left alone, the sole remnant of a shipwreck, which proves how
     fragile and vain are the grandeurs of this world._

     _I have lived; I have been. I wish to be nothing, not even a
     memory. I am the Past. I live, but am no more; a shadow, a phantom,
     a walking sorrow.... I have renounced the future. I live in my
     youth, in my past. And all the rest is shade, obscure shade. I am
     like these trees, voyez-vous. They also, like me, live on the
     memory of their past beauty. But they look forward to the
     spring-time. I do not--I have nothing more to expect. My sad winter
     even has come to an end._

     _Pray and weep with me. My sister is dead._

     _It is sad that after so many sorrows they will not let me have
     that calm which I need so much._

     _I firmly believe that they that are gone are happier than we._ (In
     a telegram to Monsignor Goddard on the death of his sister.)

(She had been asked at Chislehurst why, although so many had offered to
share her misfortunes, she had accepted the devotion of only one or two
persons. And she answered:)

     _Quand on est au milieu de la tempête, et qu’avec soi on traine la
     foudre, il ne faut pas laisser les autres vous rejoindre. (When you
     are in the midst of the storm, and dragging the thunder in your
     wake, you must not let others be exposed to it.)_

     _In leaving to others the honour of the defence of France in 1870,
     I obeyed a sentiment of personal abnegation. I did not wish to
     divide the country when the enemy might at any moment have entered
     by the breach opened to it by our internal dissensions._

     _I seek peace and forgetfulness._

     _I know how to get rid of them [General Fleury and M. Emile
     Ollivier], and to deliver the Emperor from them._

     _Doctors try to cure the body before the soul; but that is

     _Your philosophical reflections are very beautiful; the thing is to
     put them in practice._

     _One must be very wicked to wound the feelings of those who extend
     their hands in friendship._

The Empress had a protégée whose relatives were anxious that she should
marry a Duke, and they entreated Her Majesty to induce the young lady to
accept the suitor. This the Empress declined to do. “Greatness is
purchased too dearly,” she said, “and so I will not persuade Mlle. ----
to enter into this alliance.”

There are etymological purists who have asserted that Her Majesty’s
French is not absolutely flawless; but this is a reproach to which other
august personages are subject. That the Empress’s native Spanish colours
her pronunciation of certain French words, she herself would probably be
the first to admit. Similarly, the Emperor’s German education accounted
for his amusing mispronunciation of some French words. Did he not, for
example, invariably address his consort as “_U_genie”? And is not
Bismarck credited with having once said to him, with well-concealed
sarcasm: “I have never heard French spoken as your Majesty speaks it”?
In the opinion of that master of phrases, a Sovereign’s education was
complete if he knew French thoroughly and could ride well. Napoleon III.
had a perfect seat on horseback--so good, indeed, that it was said of
him that he only looked a real Emperor when he was mounted; and none but
Bismarck would have ventured to criticize his pronunciation.



The Empress has to her credit the creation of Biarritz, which developed
from a little Basque village into the French Brighton, and became a seat
of the imperial Court. The Villa Eugénie was a square, unadorned
building, standing on a slope leading to the sea, with a glorious
lookout over the waters of the Bay of Biscay. Felix Whitehurst, who was
at Biarritz in 1867, the palmy year of the Empire, noted the curious
fact that the fee-simple of the bit of waste land on which the imperial
villa was built was acquired by the Emperor for £12; and that just
beyond the valley, to the east, there was a model farm, worked by “Louis
Napoleon, proprietor, rentier, and Emperor.”[39]

The Court led a primitive life in what, a few years previously, had been
no more than an insignificant little sardine fishing village, unknown to
the great world even by name. The first thing the _Daily Telegraph’s_
sparkling Paris correspondent saw on his arrival was a compact crowd
following the Emperor and Empress, who were strolling up the High
Street. His Majesty wore a low two-inch-crowned white hat with a broad
brim. It was not Biarritz, but St. Jean-de-Luz, which was “very nearly
the scene of a catastrophe which would have plunged all Europe into
mourning,” as a result of the Empress (who was a good sailor and also a
good swimmer) cruising in a small steamer in a very heavy sea. The
Empress and the Prince Imperial had to get into a small boat to land.
The boat struck on a rock, nearly capsized, and began to fill. The
Empress was up to her waist in water, and the little Prince (then only
eleven) almost out of his depth. The pilot lost his head, jumped into
the water, and was drowned. The Sovereign and her son (according to
other chroniclers) were carried through the boiling surf on the backs of
sailors. How the Emperor learnt of the mishap has not been told; but he
arrived at St. Jean-de-Luz, eight miles from Biarritz, “as fast as
horses could bring him.” There was mild scolding all round, but the
soft-hearted Emperor was too thankful at finding his loved ones in
safety to use harsh language to anybody.

Among the visitors at Villa Eugénie at that time was Baron Goltz, then
Prussian Ambassador to France; and Mr. Whitehurst notes that “the great
cloudy German Question” was even then “the incubus of Europe.”

It was in the autumn of 1867 that Lord Lyons became H.B.M. Ambassador to
France. Mr. George Sheffield, who enjoyed exceptional popularity for
many years, was His Excellency’s Private Secretary, and Mr. Falconer
Atlee the Keeper of the Archives and Consul. Other members of the
ambassadorial staff were the Hon. Julian Fane (another favourite in
social and diplomatic circles), Mr. Adams, Mr. Clay Ker-Seymour, and Mr.
Hildyard. All through 1867 “the Emperor was in the best possible

At the beginning of 1867 the “tout Paris” was talking about the
conversion of the Duc de Morny’s widow (a Troubetzkoï) to Catholicism,
previous to her marriage with the Duc de Sesto, who, it was said, had
been violently épris of Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo, and who died in 1910.
At the “Italian” concert given at the Tuileries in March “the Emperor
and Empress went over to speak to all the artistes, the Empress talking
to Mme. Adelina Patti during most of the interval.”

The one house in Paris where “everybody” met at this period appears to
have been the Austrian Embassy; naturally so, for did not “the
Metternichs” dominate everybody, the Sovereigns included, malgré eux? In
that same “Exhibition” year Mme. Conneau was the “star” at one of
Princesse Mathilde’s “great” receptions. The charming wife of the
Emperor’s doctor was regarded in Paris as “the finest amateur singer in
Europe”; their son was the constant companion of the Prince Imperial. At
the opera Patti was singing in Verdi’s “Joan of Arc,” and Prince
Napoleon was selling his works of art at the Hôtel des Ventes.

All the élite of the British world of sport went over to see the race
for the Grand Prix in 1868, and the Emperor, the Empress, and the Prince
Imperial applauded the gagnant, The Earl, owned by the “plunging”
Marquis of Hastings. The winner was led in, amidst great excitement, by
Mr. Padwick, a notoriety of the period, who is not forgotten by a few
veterans like Mr. Chaplin and Lord Coventry. The Prince Imperial wore
his hat on one side, and the Empress made him put it straight.
“Perhaps,” says Mr. Whitehurst, “the Empress thought


The Emperor Alexander II.        The King of Prussia.

                The Emperor of Austria.

Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt.      Leopold II.


     _Portraits of the period by Franck. Reproduced from “Les Souverains
     à Paris,” by Adrien Marx. Paris: E. Dentu, 1868._

_To face p. 72._]

wearing it on one side was too much like Lord Hastings.”

Lord Lyons (a bachelor) was not credited with overmuch hospitality
during his tenure of the Paris Embassy, but in the June of 1868 he
surprised people by giving dinners two or three times a week.

At one of the State balls at the Tuileries in “Lord Hastings’ year” an
Englishman was heard to remark at the top of his voice: “I say, this is
d----d bad wine! Not so good as Pinard’s!”[40] Whitehurst was a very
minute recorder of events. He observed among the guests--4,000 or
5,000--“Mrs. Moulton, a great American beauty, and a fine musician; and
the Comtesse de Fernandina, glittering in a sort of silver cloud.” Also
that “Napoleon III. was with his relative, the Duchess of Hamilton, née
Princesse de Bade. They stopped to speak to Mme. De Arcos,[41] Irish,
but married to a Spaniard. In the corner was the ne plus ultra of Paris
fashion.” And there were to be seen Mmes. de Gallifet, de Pourtalès, and
de Sagan, and Princesse de Metternich, who “sat in judgment on Paris
society,” and “out of whose mouths came the dreaded sentence.”

The military review in the Bois de Boulogne on June 6 transcended in
glitter and colour all other spectacles witnessed in Paris since the
elevation of the Prince-President to the imperial throne. “Grand succès!
Enthousiasme énorme!” Thoughtless people, attracted to the Bois merely
by curiosity, shed tears. Adrien Marx himself, “with his own eyes,” saw
these impressionable folk overcome by their emotion. One must have had
“a heart with the famous ‘triple envelope of brass’ not to have felt
feverish and overwhelmed by the deepest national sentiment at such a
scene. Quel coup d’œil!”

This parade of 60,000 troops was in honour of the Emperor Alexander II.
and King William of Prussia. They were in the imperial tribune, by the
side of the Empress Eugénie, “in all the radiance of her beauty.” There,
too, was the Prince Imperial, aged eleven, regarding the crowd, drunk
with joy, with his look of former days--that look at once sweet and
naïf. Behind the Empress were the imperial and royal Princesses and all
the Palace ladies. Other tribunes were reserved for all the dignitaries,
illustrious persons, and the grandes dames that Paris could boast. The
general wear for the ladies was light-hued taffetas, garnished with
white guipures. This, for the moment, was the “livrée de la femme

The success of the day was made by the artillery of the guard. The other
plaudits were for the chasseurs, zouaves, guides, and cuirassiers.
Marshal Canrobert was in command, and he was “much moved,” reminding
some of the chroniclers of “dramatic authors on the night of a
première.” Was he not also presenting to the public (“and what a
public!”) an important piece? Not a piece “à femmes,” but a piece “à
soixante mille hommes.”

After inspecting the massed troops, the Sovereigns and their brilliant
staff rode into the centre of the parade-ground and faced the tribunes.
Then came the great movement of the day. Thirty thousand cavalry,
ranged in one line, galloped at breakneck speed to within five yards of
their Majesties, halted, and shouted in unison, “Vive l’Empereur!”
cleaving the air with their gleaming sabres.

With the King of Prussia were the Crown Prince, Count von Bismarck,
General Baron von Moltke, Major-General Count von Goltz, and many
personages less known to fame. The Tsar was accompanied by the
Tsarevitch (the late Emperor Alexander III.); another of his sons, the
Grand Duke Vladimir; Prince Basil Dolgorouki, Count Adlerberg, Count
Schouvaloff (in later years Ambassador in London), the French Generals
Lebœuf and Fave, and Baron de Bourgoing.[42]

After a day’s interval came the “bal des Souverains” at the Hôtel de
Ville. Thanks to the magnificent Haussmann, this entertainment eclipsed
the raoût offered in 1855 to Queen Victoria. The 10,000 invités agreed
that such a spectacle was not to be witnessed twice in a century. “The
féeries of the Hosteins and the Marc-Fourniers, with their surprises,
their silks, their spangles, their velvets, their gold, their
electricity, and their mise-en-scène, will henceforward leave us cold,
dissatisfied, and eclipsed. Place yourself before a candle after you
have looked at the sun!”

By three o’clock in the morning many of the ladies, exhausted, sat, or
otherwise reposed, on the great stairs, waiting for their carriages,
some of which, ordered for 2 a.m., could not be got until seven. When
the sweepers, with their brooms, came in to “tidy up,” they found the
carpets hidden by masses of faded flowers and crushed imitation pearls,
mingled with which were scraps of lace, tulle, and muslin. This fête
cost the municipality £36,000, and the opposition papers lashed
themselves into a state of frenzy at the waste of public money.

More magnificent even than the entertainment at the Hôtel de Ville was
the Tuileries ball on June 10. M. Marx candidly confessed that “only the
pen which wrote the ‘Arabian Nights’ could have adequately described the
spectacle.” Had he attempted the task, he would have been repeating
himself; besides, he had exhausted all his finest phrases, and his stock
of adjectives had given out. At the Hôtel de Ville it was a crowd; at
the Tuileries there were only 600 guests, and everything “went upon
wheels.” The success of the fêtes to the foreign Sovereigns at the
Tuileries was asserted to be due to the “high solicitude” and the
“incessant surveillance” displayed by the Empress, then in her
forty-first year, and determined that the imperial and royal guests
should take away with them the most favourable impression and the
pleasantest recollection of the Court of the “parvenu” Emperor and the
lady who was ungraciously spoken of by her detractors as “the Spanish

When the King of Prussia and the Crown Prince visited the imperial
stables in 1867, they found 360 horses and 150 carriages. The royal
couple were greeted by General Henry and Comte Davilliers, Grand Écuyer
and Premier Écuyer, surrounded by an army of piqueurs, coachmen,
postilions, grooms, estafettes, and others of the personnel, all wearing
their State liveries. The horse-boxes were in carved oak; the name of
each animal might be read in a medallion at the head of its stall, and
surmounted by an imperial crown. Everything was on the grand scale: the
straw beds claimed admiration; on the bituminous floor were modelled
eagles with outspread wings; the chains and other garniture of the boxes
and mangers were of brass and steel, and “shone like carbuncles.” The
light fell obliquely on the satin coats of the horses, and on the
troughs and fountains.

As the Prussian Sovereign and his only son (the consort of our Princess
Royal) passed through the imperial écuries, they saw, standing stiffly
and solemnly, piqueurs, postilions, and coachmen, in their buckskin
breeches, patent-leather boots, embroidered coats and waistcoats. The
green overcoats gleamed with gold braid. King and Prince admired the
coachmen, with their plumed tricornes, powdered hair, and “respectable
corpulence,” as the celebrated chroniqueur, Adrien Marx, described it.
“I believe,” he said, “their grave air and their imposing appearance
vanished when they descended from their seats; but there is nothing in
that. When they are on their feet they maintain a special attitude, the
majesty and chic of which are observable in their prominent
‘corporations.’ Buffon said: ‘Le style, c’est l’homme;’ he might have
added: ‘Le ventre, c’est le cocher.’”

The Emperor had twelve saddle-horses: Walter Scott, Buckingham, Hero,
Roncevaux, Alesia, Merveille, Carlo, Marathon, Marignan, Perceval,
Stentor, and Marco. “Walter Scott” in particular captivated King
William; he found another object for admiration in the gala carriage,
all gold without and satin lining within, which had not been brought
out since the Exhibition of 1855. Alongside was a tiny carriage,
splendidly decorated, belonging to the Prince Imperial. In the sellerie
was a gorgeous saddle with blue velvet fringe and silver monograms on
either side; this was preserved as a historic souvenir: it had been used
by the Emperor when he was Prince-President of the Republic. His
riding-school was remarkable in many ways--_e.g._, its eight enormous
sculptured pillars supporting the Salle des États, in which 10,000
people used to pack themselves to witness the opening of the Chambers,
and its gently-sloping staircase with double banisters. Up and down this
wonderful structure the horses walked unaffrightedly. The centre was
ornamented with flowers, and a fountain discharged its waters through
the jaws of two bronze dogs lying on marble pedestals. King William
would not leave until he had formally called upon the Fleurys (who had a
suite of rooms in the Cour Caulaincourt), and had complimented the
charming wife of the Grand Écuyer in that amiable fashion which made him
so popular at the imperial Court. The King gave the “Black Eagle” to the
Marquis de Morestier, Marshal Canrobert, and Marshal Regnault de
Saint-Jean d’Angely; but it was remembered that he did not decorate any
of the personnel of the Prussian Embassy.

At the apogee of the Empire!

Imperialism appears to be firmly rooted. Paris is the social centre of
the civilized world. The “petit Prince” has already become the popular
idol. Amongst the gay throng in front of Tortoni’s, the modish
café-restaurant of the period, may be seen some of the makers of the
Empire. The tall, handsome man--so like the Emperor--is the Comte de
Morny, presently to be created Duke. The half-brother of Napoleon III.
is talking, in his eager, airy fashion, to Prince de Metternich, the
Austrian Ambassador of those days, husband of Princesse Pauline.

The renowned publicist, Émile de Girardin, hat in hand, is telling the
ladies in a carriage the last bit of boulevard gossip, the newest mot,
the freshest scandal. There is the burly figure of Aurélien Scholl, one
of the cleverest of the chroniqueurs and tellers of diverting stories;
and close by is the enterprising Comte de Nieuwerkerke, of whom
Princesse Mathilde made so much. Seated at one of the little tables is
the great Auber, in the full flush of his fame--a grave-faced,
white-haired man of huge frame and enormous head, the kindly friend and
encourager of all the young composers of his time. Théophile Gautier is
here, too, and Arsène Houssaye, who, like Scholl, has always a witty
story to tell.

A notable group is composed of the Marquis de Massa, the author of so
many bagatelles which enlivened the imperial Court at Compiègne, General
the Marquis de Galiffet, and the Duc de Grammont-Caderousse.

The Turf has its representatives in Charles Lafitte (“Major Fridolin”),
the banker, and the Comte de Lagrange; and in a corner, under the awning
of Tortoni’s, is Isabelle, the flower-girl, of whom the Emperor and
Empress now and then buy a cluster of roses or violets.

The immortal Meyerbeer, and, at the opposite pole, the equally immortal
Jacques Offenbach; Victorien Sardou, the brothers E. and J. de
Goncourt; the littérateur Jules Sandeau, the playwright Octave Feuillet,
the actresses Déjazet and Augustine Brohan, sister of the incomparable
Madeleine--all are here on the perron of Tortoni’s in the golden days of
the Empire.

We will assist (in 1868) at the “Sortie de l’Opéra,” the old house in
the Rue Le Peletier. “Hamlet” has been given for the first time, with
Christine Nilsson as Ophelia. Here are that extraordinary Duke of
Brunswick (whose eccentric will was in dispute for so many years), the
Prince de Sagan, Prince Murat, Marshal Canrobert, Emile Ollivier, Henri
Rochefort, Baron Haussmann (who made Paris what it is), Léon Gambetta,
Paul Déroulède, the Duc de Mouchy (whose marriage with Princesse Anna
Murat was arranged by Napoleon III.), Comte Edmond de Pourtalès, M.
Thiers, M. Mirès (the financier), Prince Joseph Poniatowski, the Vicomte
d’Harcourt (once French Ambassador to our Court), the Duc de Bisaccia
(later Duc de Doudeauville), the Marquis de Caux (Mme. Patti’s first
husband, leader of the Empress’s cotillons), Chevalier Nigra (the
Italian Ambassador), Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, the Duc de FitzJames,
Comte Walewski, the Duc de Crussol, Comte Paul Demidoff, M. de
Villemessant (founder of the _Figaro_), and innumerable others--all
people with histories.

The King of Holland (father of “Citron”) condescended to “beat the
asphalte” not seldom, and to mingle with the gay throng at Tortoni’s,
the Café Anglais, the Maison d’Or, and the other modish resorts. He
married, firstly, Princess Sophia of Würtemburg, whose mother was Queen
Catherine of Würtemburg, wife of King Jérôme. The Queen of Holland was
consequently cousin-german of “Plon-Plon” and his sister Princesse
Mathilde. The King was most lavish to his numerous favourites, but his
wife was kept so short of money that when she went abroad--on a visit to
France, for instance--she was accompanied only by an elderly lady as
badly off as her royal mistress. The Queen was the friend of the Emperor
and Empress. William III. would squander thousands on the Paris
actresses and opera-singers, and refuse his wife sufficient guilders to
buy a new dress; her cherry-coloured silk gown became legendary, for she
endeavoured to impart a new aspect to it by substituting black lace for
white, and vice versâ.

The monarch was much criticized for his intrigue with Mme. Musard, whose
husband gave popular concerts during the brightest days of the Second
Empire on the site of what is now the “Jardin de Paris.” Mme. Musard was
as well known by the boulevardiers and flâneurs as the Empress herself,
and more talked about, while the complacent husband was accorded the
customary amount of chaff. When congratulated on the improvement in his
finances, Musard, with self-satisfied air, replied that it had pleased
Providence to remove from this sublunary sphere a wealthy relative, who
had left him a nice little sum. Unfortunately, Musard had quite
forgotten to keep up his pleasant deception by putting a mourning band
on his hat, so that the explanation of his good fortune was received
with a general wink. But presently the pony-chaise which Musard had
started shortly after his wife’s acquaintance with the King of Holland
gave place to a phaeton and a pair of horses, worth 800 guineas, while
madame’s magnificent turn-out made the great ladies green with envy. The
former head-groom of a milord anglais had charge of the stables;
everything was done in perfect style. There was a house in town and a
château, whose grounds and flower-gardens ran down to the Seine.

To find a parallel to so much magnificence one had to recall the days of
Louis Quatorze and Mme. de Montespan, of Louis Quinze and the Du Barry.
Paris society was greatly intriguée to know the precise locality of the
Pactolus from whence so much gold flowed, but it remained in blissful
ignorance for many a month. While his legitimate spouse was vegetating
in watery Holland, this King who dragged his ermine robes through the
mire with such complete indifference to what the Mrs. Grundys of Paris
and The Hague might say was receiving the lady at a charming cottage in
a secluded spot, suggestive of Rosamund’s bower. The excellent chef
d’orchestre used to accompany his wife to the frontier, give her a
marital embrace, and then return to his beloved Paris pour s’amuser. Not
the least curious and instructive part of the story is the fact that the
subjects of this monarch who took for his model no less a god than Eros
looked on with amused complacence, and only the Queen suffered. There
was another lady whom William of Holland held in the highest
admiration--Mlle. Abingdon, “of the Paris theatres”; she, however, did
not appreciate His Majesty to the extent that she might have done, and
one day, when the King wanted her to read to him by the hour, she said
she would “call her mother, who was a much better reader than herself.”
Mme. Musard died at the age of forty, blind and insane; but the roi
galant lived to marry a charming young wife, the sister of H.R.H. the
Duchess of Albany.

In the autumn of 1857 Mr. Allsop arrived in Paris. He spoke French
perfectly; his Italian was singularly pure; he surprised people by
declaring that he was an Englishman--Mr. Allsop. When he “descended” at
a highly respectable hotel it was observed that among his luggage was a
small box, rather heavy. The servants were to take it very carefully to
his room; they were on no account to shake it or drop it. (Mr. Allsop
had not allowed this precious box to be handled by the railway porters.
He had placed it in the rack over his head, and he carried it to the cab
upon his arrival at the Northern Station.) Presently Mr. Allsop’s groom
arrived at the hotel, and with the groom a horse, which the owner rode
daily in the Bois. Mr. Allsop remained at the hotel a short time, then
left it for an appartement.

Mr. Allsop, although a studious, grave man, mingled in the gay life of
the capital. One night he went to a masked ball at the Opéra. Two
ladies--femmes du monde--prompted by curiosity to see what this sort of
thing was like, had gone to the theatre, somewhat imprudently,
unescorted. They watched the scene from their box for a while; then,
finding it “slow,” left the loge, and were about to make a tour of the
great salle, when they became the subjects of much “chaff,” humorous and
good-tempered, but sadly lacking in refinement. At an embarrassing
moment two men--gentlemen--intervened, and so grateful were the ladies,
that after a moment’s hesitation--for form’s sake--they accepted the
strangers’ invitation to sup at a neighbouring restaurant. That the two
men had not known each other previously was additionally piquant. The
names of the quartette were divulged at the supper-table: Mr. Allsop, M.
Poplu (fashionable journalist), Mme. de Guersac, Mme. de Lubernay.

The ladies, and even M. Poplu, did not quite know what to make of Mr.
Allsop. That he was a gentleman they felt certain. There was a great
charm about his conversation. His manners were refined, and the
ladies--Mme. de Guersac in particular--admitted that he had “a way” with
him well calculated to win favour with women of sentiment. When the talk
was led by M. Poplu in the direction of the Tuileries and its august
occupants, Mr. Allsop was much interested, just as any other intelligent
and travelled Englishman would have been. M. Poplu was very sarcastic
and epigrammatic at the expense of the Emperor. Mme. de Guersac allowed
it to be understood that her knowledge of the imperial couple was not
derived from books, from the chroniques, or from salon gossip. Mr.
Allsop and M. Poplu realized that this beautiful woman was “on terms”
with “the pale Emperor,” as they had begun to call him.

A result of this very gay supper-party after the Opéra ball was that
Mme. de Guersac and Mr. Allsop became great friends, and that
the latter learnt many facts--mingled, perhaps, with not a little
fiction--concerning life at the Tuileries. The winter weeks passed very
pleasantly for these two congenial spirits, thanks partly to M. de
Guersac being somewhere abroad. On January 13 Mme. de Guersac casually
told Mr. Allsop that on the next evening the Sovereigns were going to
the Opéra. It was an event--a performance for the benefit of M.
Massol,[43] and Ristori was appearing. Mr. Allsop remarked that the news
had not been given in any of the journals which he had read. Mme. de
Guersac rejoined that it was a titbit of information which she had given

The news leaked out on the following day, and long before eight o’clock
the thoroughfares near the Opéra were thronged. Just as the carriage
containing the Emperor and Empress approached the entrance to the
theatre an explosion threw the crowd into a panic; it was followed by
another, and by a third. Three bombs had been thrown, and they had
wrought havoc. A hundred and fifty people were more or less seriously
injured. The imperial carriage was partly smashed; one of the horses was
killed outright, and another was apparently lifeless. The Emperor
escaped with a very slight scratch on one eye. The Empress’s dress was
spotted with blood. The coachman and three footmen were badly maimed.
One of the twelve Lancers of the Guard forming the escort was killed;
all the other troopers suffered from the explosions.

     The door on the right-hand side of the imperial carriage opened,
     and the crowd saw a gentleman in evening dress get out. He seemed
     to be in some pain; he looked rather frightened; his face was as
     white as wax. His features were convulsed, the eyes those of a man
     waking from a nightmare, wondering if his nocturnal visions were
     real or imaginary; while his hat, almost crushed out of shape, and
     on the back of his head, gave him a ridiculous appearance. This
     mixture of two different characters imprinted on his physiognomy
     made him look like a tragical clown, affected by a sincere chagrin
     and ready to shed real tears. It was Pierrot haunted by a spectre;
     it was His Imperial Majesty Napoleon III., Emperor of the French.

     But the Emperor, courageous and cool, subdued his emotion. He had
     always been calm in moments of danger, and now he did not raise a
     cry of alarm, nor utter imprecations, nor hasten his movements. The
     bystanders nearest to him scarcely noticed a slight feverishness in
     the gesture which he made in taking the Empress’s hand, and the
     tremor in his voice when he said to her soothingly: “Come, Eugénie,
     get out of the carriage.”

     She alighted comparatively quickly. She, too, was livid. The diadem
     which encircled her golden hair was all awry, looking as if it had
     been struck by someone’s fist. “Ah, mon Dieu, it is horrible! What
     has happened, Louis?”

     “This blood upon thee!” the Emperor exclaimed. “Art thou injured?”

     A long red stream trickled down her pink dress and over her white

     “No, I don’t feel anything,” she answered. “It is not my blood; it
     must be the General’s.”[44]

     The Emperor led his wife into the vestibule of the theatre, and
     here the Sovereigns questioned each other with that sincerity which
     even mutual incompatibility never completely banishes--sincerity
     which, in hours of danger, springs from some unknown source.

     “Why dost thou rub thy eye, Louis?” said the Empress. Then, closely
     examining his face, she noticed a slight scratch on the Emperor’s
     left eye. Reassured, she said: “It is nothing. But it might have
     blinded thee. God has protected thee. Fortunately, before we came
     out I offered a prayer to my patron saint and one to St.

     The Emperor thought the protection accorded them by the saints
     would have been still more complete had the catastrophe been
     prevented, but he said nothing; and having satisfied himself that
     the Empress was unhurt, he assisted her to make the slight
     readjustments of her toilette which were necessary to enable them
     to appear in the imperial box without any visible indications of
     the terrible ordeal they had undergone.[45]

Mr. Allsop was among the thousands who witnessed the explosions in the
Rue Le Peletier. He was also among the victims. He entered a pharmacy,
was duly attended to, returned to his lodgings, and went to bed. He had
his own reasons for determining to leave Paris for England the next day.
Full of this intention, he was endeavouring to get to sleep when he was
disturbed by a loud knocking at the door. Then his room was invaded by
the police, who unceremoniously hustled him into a waiting cab. And one
head that rolled into the basket was the head of Orsini, alias

To the Republicans the Emperor remained in 1863 (the first year of the
“adventure” in Mexico) the “Sire de Framboisy.” They resolved never to
come to terms with him. The Sire de Framboisy was the hero of an inept
song, to which the stupidity of the police in 1859 had given a
semblance of actuality. The Sire de [or Lord of] Framboisy, on his
return to Paris from the wars, misses his wife. He searches for, and
ultimately finds, his errant spouse in doubtful company at a bal de
barrière. He addresses her:

    “Corbleu, madame, que faites-vous ici?”

and she replies:

    “J’y danse le cancan avec tous mes amis.”

When the Emperor returned to St. Cloud after the Italian campaign some
of the street “loafers” took to humming these two lines; the Censeur was
shocked, and ordered this “couplet à clef” to be cut out--a step which
had the natural result of increasing the popularity of the song.

The year 1860 (says M. James de Chambrier in his brilliant collection of
studies, “Entre l’Apogée et le Déclin”) finished under the double
aureole of the “political successes and military glories acquired for
the Second Empire as much by the personal action of Napoleon III. as by
the endurance and entrain of his armies.” The Syrian expedition had
liberated the Christians of the Lebanon. Lord John Russell[47] had
occupied himself less with the security of the Christians from Turkish
attacks than with the Emperor’s aims in Syria, and perhaps in Egypt. The
Porte gradually became more reasonable, and on June 9, 1861, signed the
Act by which the Lebanon, reorganized, had for its administrator a
Christian Governor. Six weeks later French and English were again
fighting side by side in China. By the end of October the war was over,
and the news of the success of Palikao[48] was “received with just
pride at the Tuileries.”

In November and December, 1860, the Empress was in Scotland--the result
of “scenes” with her consort at the Tuileries. She returned to Paris in
time to receive the usual New Year congratulations (January 1, 1861),
but her emotion overcame her as she stood by the side of the Emperor in
the salon, where the members of the Diplomatic Body and of the Household
had gathered to greet the Sovereigns.



To the château of Bouchout, hard by Laecken, the thoughts of the
châtelaine of Farnborough Hill must often have wandered. The beautiful
avenue of Meysse, which links the royal estates of Bouchout and Laeken,
was a favourite walk of the late King Leopold, for it leads to his
sister’s house. The Empress Eugénie has, indeed, reason to bear well in
mind this Belgian Princess--Charlotte, Empress of Mexico--whose
widowhood is of older date than that of the Emperor Napoleon’s consort,
even as her story is still more pitifully tragic. The imperial crown of
Mexico, which Napoleon III. placed on the heads of the Archduke
Maximilian Ferdinand Joseph and the sister of Leopold II., cost the
Emperor of Austria’s ambitious brother his life and the Belgian Princess
her reason. The Empress Eugénie must not, then, absorb all our pity;
some of it should be bestowed upon the demented occupant of Bouchout,
aunt of Prince Napoleon’s consort, Princesse Clémentine.

Seven years before the disruption of the Empire the throne of Mexico was
offered to Maximilian by Napoleon III., who guaranteed to leave in the
country for three years an army of occupation, 25,000 strong, commanded
part of the time by Marshal Bazaine. This engagement Napoleon fulfilled
to the letter; then the French troops were withdrawn. Maximilian was in
dire extremity, and in 1867 the Empress Charlotte journeyed to Paris to
implore help. In her absence the Mexicans executed the man who had been
foisted upon them as their “Emperor.”[49]

The Empress Charlotte sailed for Europe full of hope. When she landed at
Brest she looked round to see who had come to receive her on the part of
the French Emperor. No one was visible. This was her first
disappointment. Her suite sought to console her. There must have been a
mistake. The official reception would be in Paris. Court carriages would
be awaiting her at the railway-station. One of the Emperor’s
chamberlains would certainly be there to greet her--perhaps the Emperor
himself. “Perhaps not,” she murmured.

As it had been at Brest, so it was at Paris. No one at the station to
receive her, no imperial carriage, no bowing court chamberlain to pay
her homage and offer her the traditional bouquet, not even a strip of
red carpet on the grey asphalte. Yet she was a King’s daughter, a
Kaiser’s sister-in-law, and an Empress in Mexico.

Charlotte was taken to the Grand Hotel in a “carriage”--either a cab
called “off the rank,” or the hotel ’bus. Miss Howard or Mlle. Bellanger
would have fared better.

The Empress Charlotte shut herself up alone in her room, refused to see
anyone, and would not touch the food which was placed before her. One of
the ladies of her small suite said: “Her Majesty has evidently had a
great shock. She has never looked as she now looks since the death of
her father, King Leopold. She is like a dead woman.”

The next day passed without any indication from the Court that an
Empress had arrived. On the third day an imperial chamberlain brought an
invitation to lunch with their Majesties at St. Cloud. Charlotte
disdainfully declined it, and bade the official say she would drive to
St. Cloud during the afternoon.

She had been weeping all the morning, foreseeing that her petition for
help would be addressed to “deaf ears and a callous heart.” In the
carriage she worked herself into such a frenzy that her companion, the
Comtesse del Bario, was on the point of telling the coachman to return
to the Grand. However, they drove on, and entered the courtyard of the
château. Stiffening herself, Maximilian’s wife walked up the great
staircase and, with a firm step, her cheeks burning, entered a salon.
Napoleon was there, waiting for her. He looked preoccupied and annoyed,
and twirled his moustache. By his side were the Empress Eugénie and the
Prince Imperial. There were the usual greetings, official smiles, and
presentations. Etiquette being thus satisfied, the Emperor entered his
cabinet, followed by the two Empresses. The doors were closed, and
Charlotte’s suite resigned themselves to a long wait in an adjoining

Presently came a faint sound of talking, then it became louder,
betokening an animated discussion, and then a silence. Charlotte’s
friends looked at one another anxiously, as they heard the raucous
voice of their imperial mistress: “How can I ever have forgotten who I
am and who you are! I ought to have remembered that the blood of the
Bourbons flows through my veins, and not have disgraced my race by
humiliating myself before a Bonaparte and negotiating with an

There was a sound as of someone falling--then dead silence. The door
opened. Napoleon III., very pale, stood on the threshold. Glancing at
the Comtesse del Bario, he said, “Venez donc, je vous prie.”

In the imperial cabinet the Comtesse saw her mistress, stretched out on
a couch, apparently lifeless. The Empress Eugénie, weeping, had
unfastened Charlotte’s corsage, taken off the sufferer’s boots and
stockings, and was kneeling by the icy body, rubbing Charlotte’s feet
with eau-de-Cologne. Slowly recovering consciousness, Charlotte, seeing
the Comtesse, held out her hand, saying tremblingly, “Manuelita, don’t
leave me.”

The Emperor, looking bewildered, hovered round the prostrate form on the
couch, strode up and down the room, left the apartment, and came back
again. He had “lost his head.” He called for a doctor; then ordered a
messenger to go as quickly as possible and bring Dr. Semeleder, the
Empress Charlotte’s doctor, from the Grand Hotel. Meanwhile the Empress
Eugénie, in words interrupted by sobs, told the Comtesse what had
brought about the attack--the Emperor’s refusal to grant Charlotte’s
request, her prayers, her entreaties, her tears, her threats, and her
wild ejaculations. Whilst speaking soothingly, the Empress Eugénie had
prepared a glass of eau sucrée, and tried to make Charlotte drink it.
But the Mexican Sovereign pushed it from her with a furious gesture,
shrieking, “Assassins! Go away, and take your poisoned drink with you!”

A torrent of tears followed this outburst. Throwing herself into the
arms of the Comtesse, Charlotte entreated her not to abandon her to
“this race of Borgias, who wanted to rid themselves of her by making her
drink a poisonous drug.”

The Emperor, who had been overcome by this agonizing scene, now
returned, bringing with him Dr. Semeleder, whose first words were to ask
the Emperor and the Empress Eugénie to leave him alone with Charlotte.
The carriage was brought, and the sufferer was taken back to the Grand.
As she was borne past them to the landau the terrified courtiers
pretended not to have seen or heard anything. Tears were in all eyes,
even in the Emperor’s. Charlotte was insane from that moment, and has
never recovered, although she is said to have lucid intervals.

This tragic episode remained a secret for a long time.

The next day’s papers stated that the Emperor and the Empress Eugénie
had received a visit from the Empress Charlotte at St. Cloud. “The
interview was of a very cordial nature, and lasted two hours.”

       *       *       *       *       *

If the Empress Eugénie’s thoughts dwell sometimes on the fates of the
occupant of the château of Bouchout, who will go to her grave happily
unconscious of her husband’s execution, she has many a joyous souvenir
to gladden her declining years. I will recall only one--that relating to
her first meeting with Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle, in 1855.

In later years, recording this event, the Queen described the Emperor
Napoleon’s consort, then only between thirty and thirty-one, and “in
full beauty,” as “the very gentle, graceful, and evidently very nervous
Empress.” It was on that occasion that, at a “full Chapter,” the Order
of the Garter was conferred upon Napoleon III., with whom, on the
previous night, the Queen had danced a quadrille. “How strange,” wrote
the Queen, “to think that I, the grand-daughter of George III., should
dance with the Emperor Napoleon, nephew of England’s greatest enemy, now
my nearest and most intimate ally, in the Waterloo Room, and this ally
only six years ago living in this country an exile, poor and unthought

Strange was the picture, for since Prince Louis Napoleon had occupied
those modest chambers in King Street, St. James’s (now “Napoleon
House”), and had been one of the ornaments of the Gore House réunions,
chance had raised him to the proud position which he occupied until the
disaster at Sedan overwhelmed the Empire and consigned him to captivity.
His investiture with the much prized Order was marked by all the
dignified and grandiose ceremony which made Queen’s Victoria’s Court the
world’s envy. The Queen looked magnificent in her purple velvet mantle,
crimson velvet hood, and “collar” of the Order. By her side was her
illustrious consort, that Prince Albert who, six years later, was to be
taken from her at a moment when the nation had learnt to recognize his
noble qualities.

The Knights Companions present who answered to their names as they were
called out in sonorous tones by Sir Charles George Young, then Garter
King of Arms, were the Marquis of Exeter, Duke of Richmond, Marquis of
Lansdowne, Duke of Buckingham, Marquis of Salisbury, Duke of Cleveland,
Earl de Grey, Marquis of Abercorn, Marquis of Hertford, Duke of Bedford,
Earl of Clarendon, Earl Spencer, Earl Fitzwilliam, Duke of
Northumberland, Earl of Ellesmere, and the Earl of Aberdeen. All these
noble knights have passed away. King Edward VII., who had witnessed the
imposing ceremony, long survived them.

Thanks to the “Court Circular” of the period, the scene of April 18,
1855, can be reconstituted. The Emperor Napoleon was conducted from his
apartments to the Throne Room by the Prince Consort and the Duke of
Cambridge, and took a seat in the Chair of State on the Queen’s right.
The Empress Eugénie witnessed the ceremony, surrounded by the Prince of
Wales and the other members of the Royal Family. At the fitting moment
the Queen, assisted by Prince Albert, buckled the Garter on the
Emperor’s left leg, the Chancellor of the Order (the Bishop of Oxford;
the “Prelate” being the Bishop of Winchester) pronouncing the
admonition. Then the Queen put the ribbon, with the “George,” over the
Emperor’s left shoulder, and the Chancellor pronounced a second
admonition. Next the Queen gave the accolade, and Napoleon III. received
the congratulations of all the Knights Companions present.

The stately function was over. “As we were going along to the Emperor’s
apartments,” wrote the Queen, “he said, ‘I heartily thank your Majesty.
It is one bond the more. I have given my oath of fidelity to your
Majesty, and I will keep it carefully.’” A little later in the day the
Emperor said to the Queen, “It is a great event for me, and I hope I may
be able to prove my gratitude to your Majesty and to your country.” And
to a friend he observed, “Enfin je suis gentilhomme!” The “parvenu,” as
he had styled himself, was making headway, thanks to Queen Victoria.

No need to dwell upon the return visit paid by the Queen and the Prince
Consort in the summer of the same year. The English Sovereign and her
consort entertained the Emperor and Empress of the French for the second
time in 1857. The scene was the Isle of Wight. Although it was a
private, “an even most sequestered,” visit, it was said that “matters of
high import to the welfare of both nations” were discussed at Osborne,
and that “more than one rock which threatened shipwreck to the cordial
understanding between the two countries was removed.” The suite
accompanying the French Sovereigns was limited to the Princesse
d’Essling, Comte and Comtesse Walewski, General Rollin, and General
Fleury, whose son, Comte Serge, was in England, lecturing (and this is
worthy of note) on the Empress Eugénie, in the summer of 1908. The
imperial yacht, _Reine Hortense_, reached the island at half-past eight
in the morning (August 6), and the Queen and the Prince Consort,
accompanied by Prince Alfred, the Princess Royal, and Princess Alice,
went down to the pier to welcome the imperial pair. Lords Palmerston and
Clarendon enlivened the royal party at the dinner-table that evening. Of
all these the solitary survivor is the Empress.

The Empress Eugénie must often recall those quiet, happy days which she
and her consort passed at Osborne--the excursion to Carisbrook Castle,
the drive to Cowes to witness the conclusion of the race for the cup,
the visit, on the Sunday, to the Catholic Church at Newport, and the gay
scene on the Solent as the _Reine Hortense_ threaded her way between the
yachts and warships. Nor can the imperial lady have forgotten that while
she and her husband were the Queen’s guests three Italians--Tibaldi,
Bartolotti, and Grilli--were being tried in Paris for an attempt on the
life of the Emperor. Possibly, too, she may remember that so anxious had
the Emperor been, on the morning of their arrival, to get a good view of
Osborne that he betook himself to the bridge of his yacht, slipped on
the ladder, and rolled to the deck. “As we are proceeding to the
conquest of England,” he said, smiling, “I ought to have waited until
landing before falling.” These were true words spoken in jest, for
throughout his reign he never lost sight of one object--the political
conquest of England. And here one recalls what the Emperor is asserted
to have said on his arrival, with the Empress, at Windsor Castle in
1855: “In seeing again the country in which I lived when I was poor, and
which I left to make my fortune, I am reminded of the story of the man
who, as a boy, arrived in Paris in wooden shoes, and when he became rich
went for a day to his native village and slept in the hovel which had
sheltered him in his boyhood.”



The “great” balls at the Tuileries were given before Lent; the “little”
balls, otherwise known as the Empress’s “Mondays,” after Easter. At the
larger of these entertainments all the men were in uniform. The Emperor,
the Generals, and the officers of the household wore white cashmere
breeches, silk socks of the same colour, and pumps with buckles.
Civilians were in Court dress, with embroidered collars and cuffs, and
swords; the crush hat (clâque) was carried under the arm. One person
only wore buckskin breeches and high riding-boots of varnished leather:
this was the écuyer on duty.

At the “Mondays” the guests were restricted to those who had been
previously “presented”; they were selected in rotation from a list--this
was the “séries.” Court functionaries and a few of their Majesties’ most
intimate friends were invited to all the “Mondays.” The regulation garb
for men on these occasions was either “shorts,” or very tight-fitting
trousers, and black tail-coats. The Emperor and the officers of the
household were in evening dress, the coat being of a dark blue cloth,
with velvet collar, the lapels lined with white satin, and gilt buttons
bearing a crowned eagle.

Each ball was preceded by a family dinner, the guests being Prince
Napoleon and his wife, Princesse Clothilde; Princesse Mathilde, the
Murat Princes and Princesses, Prince Charles and Princesse Christine
Bonaparte, the Marquis and the Marquise de Roccagiovine, and Comte and
Comtesse Primoli.

About ten o’clock the Emperor and Empress entered the salon of the First
Consul. Here the guests had previously assembled, here new presentations
were made by the First Chamberlain, Comte Bacciochi, and their Majesties
made the tour of the room, saying a few words to all before the dancing
began. The Empress, who seldom danced, took up her position in an
adjoining salon, whither she was generally followed by diplomatists like
Lord Cowley (H.B.M. Ambassador), Prince de Metternich, and Chevalier
Nigra, and by intimate friends like Prosper Mérimée, Édouard Delessert,
Onésime Aguado, and a few others.

During the dancing the Emperor chatted for an hour or so with his
Ministers; then, reappearing in the ballroom, chose a partner, and
himself led a “boulangère,” or formed a set of the “lancers,” preferring
either of these to quadrilles, which he found lacking in “go.” Then came
the cotillon, led by Princesse Anna Murat and the volatile Marquis de
Caux (both unmarried at the time, and both in high favour with the
Sovereigns), who took up their position in chaises volantes in front of
the fireplace. In the cotillon forty couples took part, including on one
occasion (the Marquis de Massa noted) Mlles. de Heeckeren, de Seebach,
de Bassano, Harvey, de Errazu, Magnan, Haussmann, Hamelin, and Bouvet,
whose cavaliers were MM. Davilliers, Castelbajac, Poniatowski,
d’Espeuilles, Duperré, du Bourg, Clermont-Tonnerre, des Varannes (all of
whom were either écuyers or officiers d’ordonnance), Arthur de
Cossé-Brissac (the Empress’s Chamberlain), etc. The cotillons at the
Tuileries were very simple affairs, the presents distributed being
merely flowers and coloured rosettes. The guests supped standing at a
buffet, and by one o’clock the ball was over.

At one of the first of the grand balls given at the Tuileries before the
marriage the Emperor danced in the quadrille of honour with Lady Cowley,
wife of the British Ambassador. “He danced another quadrille with Mlle.
de Montijo, who,” Baron Imbert de Saint-Amand has told us, “was
assuredly the most beautiful of all the women present. Her resplendent
beauty and extreme elegance excited general admiration.... How she would
have shuddered could she have foreseen the state in which she would find
this supper-room in 1870, at the beginning of the fatal war! Then she
would instal an ambulance there. Instead of women loaded with jewels,
there would be sisters of charity with their white cornettes.”

At one of the “small” dances, or, as they were called, “Mondays,” at the
Tuileries--entertainments which always took place before Lent--after the
author of “Colomba”[50] had regaled the chosen few who had been invited
to join the “circle” with some tales drawn from the chroniques
chevaleresques of ancient Spain, the Empress volunteered to tell a
little story of herself when she was still Mlle. de Montijo. The scene
was Estramadura. She was riding a richly-caparisoned mule, and, with her
little party, stopped for a few minutes at an auberge, in front of
which, taking a rest, was a man, shod in espradilles--

Plus délabré que Job, et plus fier que Bragance

--one of those lithe mountaineers, with flashing eyes, the type of
Victor Hugo’s Don César de Bazan and Hernani. The young lady was
parched, and asked for a vaso de agua. Struck by her beauty, the
mountaineer resolved that none but himself should have the honour of
serving the fair traveller, and, snatching from the landlord’s hands the
jug of fresh water and the glass, he filled the latter and offered it to
Mlle. de Montijo, but not until he had knelt a moment in homage. “Muchas
gratias,” said the future Empress, returning to the gallant caballero
the glass, in which some water still remained. Raising the glass to his
lips, he slowly drained it, keeping his gaze fixed upon the lady all the
while, and finally breaking the glass into fragments, in order that no
one else should ever use it!

Of the score or more of those who have essayed to depict the imperial
vie intime during the first years of the reign--from the marriage in
January, 1853, to the “attempt” by Orsini in January, 1858--none has
surpassed M. Gaston Stiegler.[51]

It is early morning, and the Emperor’s toilette is being completed by
his faithful valet, Charles Thélin. The carpet is littered with opened
telegrams and newspapers. His Majesty is tired, and rubs his dull eyes,
while Thélin waxes the large fair moustache which covers the master’s
mouth, and draws it into two fine points. After his sparse locks have
been artistically combed and brushed, “washes” and pomades applied, and
the pale cheeks brightened with rouge--after everything has been done as
scrupulously as the most elegant petite maîtresse could have
desired--Napoleon III. rises and puts on the severely cut frock-coat in
which he is almost invariably seen, save when he is in uniform or
hunting or shooting garb. His faithful companion, his meerschaum pipe,
beautifully coloured, smiles upon him from a little table. He lights it,
and joins his secretary (M. Mocquard) and Dr. Conneau, both blindly
devoted to him. These morning moments were generally the best parts of
his day. Mocquard and Conneau were the friends of his youth, the friends
of his mother, who, on her death-bed, made the doctor promise never to
leave her son.[52]

“Has your Majesty slept well?” asks Conneau.

“Not badly, thank you; but not enough, my good friend,” came from the
thick voice, which did not harmonize with his air of natural

“Yes, yes; I know. You returned late--always too late. It is telling
upon you.”

The Emperor took this scolding every morning very amiably. The
solicitude for his health pleased him.

“Youth will have its fling,” said Mocquard, smiling.

“You chaff, Mocquard,” replied the doctor. “I am uneasy until I know the
Emperor is here, in this château, with the doors locked, under the eyes
of the sentinels.”

“I chaff faute de mieux, mon cher. I am entirely of your opinion. But
morality--that is not in my line. We knew nothing about it in my time.
You have taken charge of it, and it could not be in better hands.”

“Well, well,” said Conneau; “let us leave him to kill himself--or to get
killed!” And, growling, he put on his glasses, opened a large book which
he had just received, and plunged into its pages as if he had had enough
of the conversation.

“Charles,” said the Emperor, “tell Félix to send the Prince down and
inquire after the Empress.”

Smoking his pipe, he paced up and down, his head sunk in his shoulders,
balancing his massive body on his short, little legs, which seemed not
to have been made to bear him. He stopped before the mantelpiece; the
blazing fire absorbed his whole attention. He seemed to see in the red
and blue sparks the reflection of the tricks played upon him by that
fortune of which he was himself the most remarkable example, and he
asked himself how long those petits follets would last. Suddenly a huge
log broke into halves, littering the hearth. The beautiful flames were
extinguished, and in their stead came a disagreeable volume of smoke. He
grasped the tongs, carefully picked up the pieces of half-burnt wood,
and, while amusing himself in this patriarchal manner, asked:

“What are you reading, Conneau?”

“I am not reading, Sire.”

“And this great book?”

“It is a Bible, which I bought yesterday.”

“Ah, yes, for your collection,” said the Emperor laughingly. “What
language is it?”

“Hebrew, Sire.”

“Nonsense, Conneau! You don’t know Hebrew, and you are not the man to go
into ecstasies over a Bible, even a French one. Well?”

“It is a magnificent edition, published at Venice in 1551--printed by


“Sire, do I laugh at you when, at Champlieu, or elsewhere--in some camp
of Cæsar or other--you pick up old tiles, Roman or pretended Roman;
antique things without form or colour, broken vases which have been used
for Heaven knows what purpose? However, you put them carefully in glass
cases or in the museums, and you like people to look at them. Everybody
has his own hobby.”

“Oh, my poor potteries!” sighed the Emperor. “How they abuse you!”

He laid down the tongs, and, after rolling a cigarette, took up a
fragment of an amphora which had been found during the excavation of a
Merovingian tomb near Soissons. It was a common-looking piece of clay,
without a vestige of decoration. But he held it up to the light, and
examined it with all the tenderness of a connoisseur, while Conneau,
with loving hands, turned the leaves of his beautiful Bible, in which
some amateur had intercalated several rudely-executed pictures.

Less than three years after the imperial nuptials a very distinguished
Englishwoman was the guest of their Majesties. Her son, Lord Ronald
Sutherland Gower, wrote:

     In October, 1855, my mother[53] took me over to Paris for the first
     time. We visited the Tuileries and Versailles. During one of our
     expeditions to some gallery or exhibition the Empress recognized
     my mother, although she only knew her from her likeness to her
     portrait by Winterhalter, the lithographs of which were in the
     printsellers’ windows, and immediately invited her to dine at St.
     Cloud, where the Court then was. My mother had known the Emperor
     slightly, for on a previous visit [of the Duchess] to Paris he had
     called on her at Meurice’s Hotel. Although charmed by the beauty
     and grace of the Empress, my mother had little liking for the
     imperial Court of France or its master.

In the great year 1867 Lord Ronald, like thousands of English people,
went to Paris for the Exhibition. “It was the apogee of the Second
Empire--of the Empire that smelt half of gunpowder and half of
patchouli. Maximilian’s death was not then known at the Tuileries.
Napoleon III. was then host to all the Sovereigns of the Continent, and
yet within three short years all was in the dust.”

Later (in January, 1868) he was invited to a ball at the Tuileries:

     It was a hard winter, and all the gay world was skating in the Bois
     de Boulogne. There were Mme. de Metternich, plain, with the
     exception of fine, roguish eyes, and always beautifully dressed,
     and Mme. de Galliffet, with whose looks I was disappointed. Thanks
     to some French friends--the Boyers--I saw a ball at the Tuileries
     without the trouble of a presentation to their Imperial Majesties.
     As a sight the ball was interesting, unlike any other Court ball
     that I have seen. Perhaps the most striking sight was the double
     file of Cent Gardes, in their gorgeous pale blue and silver
     uniforms, lining the State entrance and staircase and standing
     sentry at the doors. After passing the Salon de Diane and
     struggling through a crowd principally composed of officers, I got
     a good place in front of the daïs, on which the Emperor and
     Empress were seated. The Empress was all in white, and looked
     strikingly handsome. The Emperor did not appear to advantage in his
     white silk tights and stockings, and seemed tired and bored.
     During, and between, the dances he walked across the open space in
     front of the daïs and conversed with some of the officers and
     diplomatists. He was a long time in conversation with a fat
     General, who I was told was Lebœuf. The supper was admirably
     managed. Piles of truffes en serviette abounded, and here there was
     less of a crowd than at Buckingham Palace.

The Duchess of Sutherland was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria
when the Empress paid Her Majesty a visit at Windsor.[54] Lord Ronald,
then at Eton, was sent for by his mother, who was in attendance on the
Queen. He says:

     I had a glimpse of the Empress as she passed through a corridor in
     the castle, and was greatly struck by her beauty. She had shortly
     before lost her sister, the Duchesse d’Albe, and was in deep
     mourning for her. An odd idea had taken her fancy--to build on the
     site of her sister’s house in Paris, which, after the Duchesse’s
     death, she had razed to the ground, a similar building in every
     respect to Stafford House, and she had visited that house and sent
     architects over to take its dimensions. But the plan fell through;
     perhaps it was thought to be too considerable a scheme for

When the Duchess of Sutherland was in Germany in 1864, accompanied by
Lord Ronald, the then Crown Princess (afterwards the Empress Frederick)
invited her to dine at Potsdam, and the Duchess observed that in the
royal lady’s sitting-room the furniture was covered with Gobelin
tapestry, the gift of the Empress Eugénie.[55]

Among the diplomatists accredited to the Court of the Tuileries until
his retirement in 1867 was Mr. John Bigelow, United States Minister, who
has put on record this not very complimentary appreciation of the
Emperor and Empress of the French:[56]

     That the lesson of Louis Napoleon’s life and death might not be too
     soon lost to the memory of that portion of the world still in need
     of its instruction, his widow, whose picturesque career raises the
     Tales of the Thousand and One Nights almost to the dignity of
     history, though happily spared in a measure the fate of her
     unfortunate sister of Belgium [the Empress Charlotte], shares
     another fate scarcely less pitiable. Like Salathiel,[57] she still
     tarries, one of the most unhappy of mortals, an Empress without a

In the sous-sols of the Pavillon de Flore were the kitchens of the
Tuileries.[58] This annexe of the Palace was constructed, from the
modified plans of Visconti, by Lefuel, who was interrupted in his work
by the war. He had, however, just time to finish the great staircase,
which is decorated with a beautiful ceiling by Cabanel and four
bas-reliefs by Eugène Guillaume.

In this immense and sumptuous temple--such as Brillat-Savarin and
Grimod de la Reynière could not have dreamt of--all the meals required
for the imperial family and the household were prepared by an army of
cooks, male and female. We can see, in the magnificent nave, the goings
and comings of the officiers de bouche, the patissiers, and the
marmitons. At the entrance of each section was a large marble slab,
inscribed, in gold letters, Vestiaire, Contrôle, Porcelainerie, Lavoir
de l’Argenterie, Pâtisserie, Lavoir de la Cuisine, and so on. All the
walls were oak panelled, finely carved.

On great tables the silver and porcelain vessels were ranged--thousands
of pieces. The most marvellous sight of all--after the kitchens (all
separate) for sauces, for grills, for soups, for pastry, and for
stews--was the huge kitchen in which the roasting was done. This
occupied the whole of the sous-sol of the “Flora” wing. Between two
immense stoves, each having three compartments, each compartment capable
of receiving two sheep and five or six dozen fowls, was the
Brobdingnagian fireplace, of wrought iron and varnished tiles. Each
stove measured nearly fourteen feet in width and about sixteen feet in
height, and each had two solid, movable beams, from which hung spits. Of
the latter there were twenty, with steel racks. Here whole oxen could be
roasted. Above the fireplace was a gigantic central motor, with a
clockwork arrangement, for turning the spits. It was a complicated piece
of machinery, subdivided, and furnished with devices for turning joints
at various speeds. The fuel was naturally wood, with which only can meat
be properly roasted. The logs used were more than twelve feet in length.
The table on which the meat was cut before roasting was of dimensions
which suggested to the more imaginative lookers-on a “village green”!
The wine-cellars sloped downwards beyond the kitchens and their annexes
under the pavilion of the Salle des États, which extended to the
entrances to the Carrousel.[59]

Among the newspapers which found their way into the Tuileries, or
wherever the Court happened to be--St. Cloud, Compiègne, or
Fontainebleau--was a very curious, very audacious, and very amusing
little sheet, published in London only during the season and the
Parliamentary Session. It was called _The Owl_. Much of its most
diverting matter (1864-1869) had reference to Napoleon III. and his
Ministers. The most amazing diplomatic “despatches” were concocted, so
closely resembling the real article that it was sometimes difficult even
for experts to discriminate between the two. To prevent mistakes I must
quote the words of the editor of _The Owl_, Mr. Algernon Borthwick:[60]

     The Owls were Evelyn Ashley, Lord Wharncliffe, Stuart Wortley, and
     myself. Others wrote for us later ... but we really started the
     paper. One night I had a brilliant idea. There had been pourparlers
     between the Government and the Emperor Napoleon III. on the subject
     of the reduction of armaments. He was, however, unwilling to take
     the initiative, and had said, in a private conversation with the
     English Ambassador, “Je ne veux pas encore être snubbé” [“I don’t
     want to be snubbed again”]. I knew the Emperor’s style in writing,
     and concocted a letter supposed to be written by His Majesty, and
     ending with the words, “Je ne veux pas encore être snubbé.”... The
     _Moniteur_ [the official journal] telegraphed that the letter was
     _not_ written by the Emperor, but was an impertinent fabrication,
     and our fame was established.... During the Congress of Paris the
     delegates lost their tempers, and hot words were exchanged. _We_
     wrote a fictitious account of it, and said that they shied the ink
     at each other, and that during a lull in the proceedings Lord
     Clarendon[61] got up with a bored air and looked out of the window
     at an Italian organ-grinder. This last incident really took place,
     so the astonishment of those who had been present was great.

     Once all the Owls went to Paris, and spent the day in woods near
     the city. We sang songs, and crowned ourselves with ivy garlands,
     and finally climbed up in a huge old tree, into whose branches we
     were hauled up by ropes, ladies and all, singing ballads the while.
     The next night we were all invited to a great dinner and ball at
     the Tuileries, and the contrast with our woodland revels was

Early in June, 1865, M. Drouyn de Lhuys presented to the Empress Regent,
in the name of the Paris Cricket Club--an English institution--a box
containing a complete cricketing outfit for the Prince Imperial, then a
little over nine. The Empress sent the following reply:


     La fondation d’un club du jeu de cricket ne peut qu’être utile au
     développement d’une bonne hygiène publique, si l’exercice de ce jeu
     répand autant que je le désire et que le font espérer les efforts
     de votre société. J’applaudi de grand cœur à cette fondation, et
     j’accepte avec plaisir l’appareil de jeu que vous voulez bien
     offrir au Prince Impérial....

(Signé)      EUGÉNIE.

_le 7 Juin, 1865_.



Napoleon III. had a great liking for Fontainebleau, the scene of his
Uncle’s abdication. It may well have been that he desired to banish from
the place all that reminded him of the ill-fate of his family. It seemed
to him pleasantly audacious to make this attempt at the outset of his
reign--to instal the newborn sovereignty in the very place which had
witnessed the shipwreck of the victor of Austerlitz. This act pleased
the nation by its audacity; people saw in it an evidence of disdain for
the evil horoscopes which already abounded. By this clever coup he cast
ridicule on the predictions of immediate disaster with which the new
reign had been greeted. He left people no time to think of anything but
years of prosperity and glory. It was a bold way of taking possession,
almost equal to an 18 Brumaire.

But the days of the First Emperor at Fontainebleau were not recalled
merely by lugubrious legends--by the table on which the Act of
Abdication was signed and the staircase of the farewells. Everywhere in
the Palace he had left the mark of his glory. Here, as at the Tuileries,
he had written his name under the signatures of the old Kings of France:
the calligraphy differed, it is true, but it was equally bold and
equally firm. Under the Restoration, as under the Monarchy of July,
Fontainebleau was not perceptibly changed. The Nephew entered into
possession of his inheritance after the lapse of forty years. The trees
had grown, and the carp in the pond had whitened, but nothing else
seemed to have changed; one might have expected to see the Great
Emperor’s red-coated little pages and the Mamelukes, or even, at the end
of an alley, Marie Louise and the King of Rome. The adventurous and
sceptical temperament of Napoleon III. was allied to sentimental
reveries. His ideas forced themselves upon him, and greatly amused him.
Not that he showed himself an artist in these things. There was nothing
of the artist about him, but there was great simplicity, often to the
point of emotion. Formed in the fashion of his time, he was quite
capable of pushing grave resolutions to extremes without regret,
although he would weep over a poor man’s dog or the cross worn by a
peasant soldier. Fontainebleau had for him an interest of this kind, and
he hastened to it at the earliest moment. The military subjects painted
by Raffez, Charlet, and Bellangé greatly amused and interested Napoleon
III. To those artists he owed a considerable part of his political
success. They had resuscitated the Bonapartist legend, and had made the
Great Emperor the hero of an artistic and literary cycle comparable to

At the Fontainebleau “chasses” Napoleon III. wore the extraordinary
hunting-dress which had been devised for him; it was, in fact, a revival
of the Louis XV. costume. The ladies and their cavaliers were equally
delighted with it. English “followers,” whom the imperial couple
heartily welcomed both at Fontainebleau and Compiègne, thought the
costume picturesque, but theatrical. The green tunic was worn in
remembrance of Napoleon I. The waistcoats were similar to those worn by
the roués of the Regency, as seen in the pictures by Compte-Calix. The
hat was the tricorne (“lampion”), which looked well on the head of a
pretty woman, but did not accord with whiskers or waxed moustaches; yet
it escaped criticism--was, indeed, generally admired. And it was in this
curious garb that Napoleon III., flanked by the irresistible Marshal
Magnan, the head of the Imperial Hunt, entered the château which the
Uncle had left in his grey redingote. Over the door of a room at
Fontainebleau there used to be a picture, by Schoppin, representing the
killing of a stag in a pond in the forest. The Emperor is taking a gun
from the hands of Edgar Ney; the Empress is preparing to cover her eyes
with a pocket-handkerchief; and in the background is Marshal Magnan, who
looks as if he were thinking of anything but the stag which the Emperor
is about to shoot.

Under the new régime events advanced at a gallop; everything had to be
done quickly; and, as political considerations had to be taken into
account, the odd sight was witnessed of the titular director of the
Imperial Hunt being no less a personage than a Marshal of France, a good
soldier, an excellent Freemason, but unlearned in the art and science of
venery. By the grace of the Marquis d’Aigle, a ready-made pack came into
being at Fontainebleau, soon reinforced by English hounds, and La Trace,
who had been the piqueur of Napoleon I. and of the Orleans Princes, was
placed in charge. We see the newly-promoted taking lessons from the
subalterns--Napoleon I. from the piqueurs of Condé, and Napoleon III.
from his Uncle’s piqueur. The worthy La Trace was the real autocrat of
the hunt, instructing everybody who was willing to be taught, and
prescribing what was and what was not “good form”; and under his gilded
“lampion” Marshal Magnan was observed learning his lesson with comical
intentness. What was of the first importance was that members of the
imperial house should be made to appear thorough sportsmen.

An Empress was still lacking when, for the first time, Napoleon III.
rode into the old and melancholy château in the midst of fanfares, soon
to be followed by torchlight “curées” and gay “shoots.” It was a strange
monde, mostly composed of very “new” people, not devoid of naïveté, and
vastly different from their predecessors. Then an Empress came, and
Fontainebleau was an Elysium.

At Fontainebleau the Empress could indulge in dreams. Her apartments,
which had been occupied by Marie Antoinette, looked into the oval
courtyard. The cabinet de toilette was decorated by Rousseau, the
eighteenth-century architect, in honour of the Queen, who had made of it
an exquisite boudoir. Painted in green and gold, mellowed by time, the
ceiling of this room was the work of Barthélemy, pupil of Boucher; the
door-hangings represented the Muses. On the mahogany parquet were
mosaiced the Queen’s initials; Goutière’s brasswork ornamented the
fireplace. This boudoir was more in accord with the Empress’s tastes
than the bedroom, hung with large Lyons flowered damasks, with its
gorgeous bed in the centre, recalling that of Louis XIV. at Versailles.
Despite the fleurs-de-lis on the ceiling, and the winged cherubs round
the daïs, and Rièsener’s furniture, the Empress was oppressed by all
this parade. How different were all these splendours from the cosy
little room, lacquered with white, which she had hoped to get for her
villégiature! She had dreamt of a tiny chamber with all its little
nothings within reach; walls covered with souvenirs and medallions;
flower-stands, low couches, bureaux no larger than gridirons, no
lustres--everything small and homely. At Fontainebleau, in the midst of
the woods, in the full sunlight, the Tuileries followed her, just as
they had followed Marie Antoinette to Versailles. But the Queen could
fly off, alone, to Trianon in her early happy days. That made all the

Hence her desire to break the bonds of strict etiquette and to become
“Ourenia” once again. (“Ourenia” was Eugénie de Montijo, Mlle. de Téba.)
The plainest walking dress, a simple hat, stout boots, cane in hand. How
much she would have liked to milk a cow and to make butter! But that
would have provoked ill-natured talk in the capital, and songs about the
Andalusian dairymaid. So she resigned herself to sleep in that vast
tabernacle, with its gleaming lustre, its gold and its silk--like a doll
in a giant’s bed. She felt thankful that she had not, like Marie
Antoinette at Versailles, to don her chemise under the gaze of her

When the “good-nights” had been said, the Emperor, the Empress, and the
Prince were preceded to their rooms by the stately “Suisses,” and
followed by the members of the Court. The guests, after the baise-main,
deep curtsies, and low bows, found their way to their bedrooms without
further, or with very little, ceremony. Octave Feuillet has told us what
these Fontainebleau bedrooms were like: delightful beds, baths already
prepared for the morning ablutions, and the apartments brilliantly
lighted by great chandeliers. In some of the rooms little parties of
friends gathered to talk over the day’s events, finish stories which had
been commenced in the salon, and breathe fervent hopes that the new
Empire had “come to stay.”

The Emperor slept in what had been the room of Napoleon I. High above
the doors were Cupids, in grisailles, by Sauvage; lower down, cameos of
the old times and Pompeian arabesques. Placed close to the wall, against
an immense glass, was the bed, still decorated with the Uncle’s “N” and
the gilded frontals. Louis Philippe had restored the wood panelling with
its carved figures, and had renewed the hangings; but the clock of Pope
Pius VII. stood on the mantelpiece, the arm-chairs were those of the
Great Emperor, and he had paced the mosaiced floor. When Napoleon III.
left his bedroom for his study he wrote surrounded by relics of the
First Empire: the bureau carved by Jacob, the chairs, the
writing-desk--everything remained intact. One new thing there
was--Nieuwerkerke’s white marble bust of the Empress, showing her as she
was at the time of her marriage. Even she, by no means easy to please in
these matters of portraiture, was enthusiastic over this work, revealing
a face of charming archness.

The special attraction at Fontainebleau was the forest, through which
long drives in char-à-bancs were often taken. Sometimes the Empress
improvised a dinner in the open air at the gorges of Apremont, and
clambered over the rocks with an alacrity which proved very
disconcerting to those of her suite who accompanied her on these
excursions in the glaring sun. At other times the Empress arrived
unexpectedly in the valley of the Sole, while the annual manœuvres of
the cavalry brigade of the Imperial Guard were on. Then there would be a
goûter for the officers of the two regiments engaged, the Empress
herself doing the honours and putting all at their ease. One day (and I
give the story on the authority of that popular personage, the late
Marquis de Massa) she asked if someone would sing a military ditty, “un
peu Gauloise, mais pas trop.” A young officer of the Chasseurs, M. de
Batsalle, was indicated as possessing a repertoire of this description.
When called upon, however, he energetically pleaded to be excused, on
the ground that the songs which he knew were not suitable for the
Empress’s ears.

“But,” replied Her Majesty laughingly, “when you come to a word which
you may think rather strong, you can substitute for it ‘turlututu.’”

“But, Madame, the song contains----”

“What? Tell us.”

“There are scarcely any words in the song, Madame, except ‘turlututus’!”

The trumpet-call “à cheval” fortunately relieved the officer from his

Even a cursory study of the characters of Napoleon III. and the Comtesse
de Téba shows that they belonged to the school of “romantics.” Æsthetics
they assuredly were not. Romanticism as a cult had almost disappeared at
the period of their marriage, but the “new” people (and both Sovereigns
were very “new”) were unaware of that. The Emperor favoured the “Beaux
Dunois”[62] or the “Preux de Palestine,” and in the spirit of
romanticism he rebuilt Pierrefonds, the château which furnished the
Empress with a travelling name which she continues to use. The Empress
admired the eighteenth century, the perfumed histories (as Bouchot terms
them) of Trianon or Versailles, and had a predilection for panniers, à
la Belle Fermière. Hence her passion for a rural life, her love of
Nature, the woods, and the fields. For the satisfaction of this craving
Fontainebleau was an ideal spot--superior to Compiègne; there she could
revel in royal chronicles and stories of “gallant” Courts. Fontainebleau
had the dual qualities of Versailles and Trianon. There the
Empress--never without her hours of melancholy--could be solitary or
gay. There she was happiest.

But Fontainebleau had to be made to breathe of power--all must be
luxurious--so that the Tuileries might be relegated almost to the back
of the stage. All this was not to be done in a month. Even in 1860--five
years after the marriage--the work was only beginning to be complete.
The Sovereigns spent a week or two at Fontainebleau, and gave some
visitor, like the Grand Duke Constantine, an opportunity of assisting at
a hunt and a curée; but by degrees the Empress’s longing for an annual
stay there was satisfied. It was there more than anywhere else that she
could remain undisturbed and uninterfered with in her own room, or walk
or drive out as she wished, free from all “obligations.”

Upon the arrival of the Sovereigns at their summer residence, which for
splendour was not surpassed by the most fastidious of their defunct
predecessors, the place was all movement from daylight. The guard was in
grande tenue. Officers swarmed in the courts. From their windows peered
excitedly pretty women in light toilettes. Then bugles blew, drums
rolled, and cannon thundered until the walls trembled. All this meant
that the imperial train was at the station. The Emperor alighted from
the waggon-salon (which was surmounted by an eagle with outspread
wings), and gave his hand to the Empress. Their Majesties entered their
daumont, preceded by Cent-Gardes, and followed by other carriages. It
was a rush to the Palace. In front of the “Adieux” steps the daumont
stopped, and the officers of the household greeted the Emperor and
Empress, who had for each person a word and a smile. At the top of the
steps they turned, saluted à la ronde, and crossed the threshold amidst

Fontainebleau signified Liberty Hall--and not only to the Empress. How
different to the Tuileries, where the walls heard and saw everything!
The men of the Military Household were as light-hearted and as full of
fun as schoolboys on a half-holiday. The ladies told their little
stories, of much the same pattern as those told by the courtiers of the
Valois or of Louis XIV.

The keynote of the life here was struck at one of the first of these
villégiatures. At the Emperor’s request, M. Albéric Second wrote a
humorous trifle--it was called a “saynète”--for the “Théâtre Impérial,
Fontainebleau.” And the Duc de Morny “scored” with a witty impromptu in
his best style, he himself taking one of the two parts. In this
bagatelle the audience saw a sedate provincial, come to Paris with the
laudable object of talking seriously to the Emperor on State affairs, to
the Empress about her charitable works, and to M. de Morny about his
able diplomacy. “How you must have bored all three!” said the “compère”
(De Morny). “You don’t seem to know much about the ways of these people.
The next time you come to Paris on such an important errand I advise you
to talk to the Emperor about his ‘Vie de César,’ to the Empress about
her crinolines, and to M. de Morny about his marvellous talent as a

The Empress and the Emperor gave the signal for the laughter and
applause which followed.

When the Emperor, wearing a light waistcoat, a short jacket, trousers
more or less “pegtoppy,” and a small black felt hat, was told that
business awaited him, and that it was time for him to take his place on
the throne, his face underwent a pitiful change. As a simple bourgeois
he might have spent the whole day amusing himself; as Emperor he must go
and seat himself in a chair higher than the others--not, perhaps, for
very long, happily for himself and everybody else.

A marked difference between the imperial Court and that of the Kings of
France was that at table at the former the conversation was general and
almost without restriction. The Emperor, who usually spoke in a low
tone, raised his voice at luncheon and at dinner, so that those whom he
addressed could hear him, and had not to guess at some of his words. The
Empress invariably spoke loudly, and on occasion--in moments of
excitement, which were not seldom--even stridently.

During dinner the music of the Garde played softly. The “Beau Dunois”
(“Partant pour la Syrie”) was followed by one of the choruses from
“Faust” or a prayer from “L’Africaine.” To please the younger people
songs were arranged as military marches--the “Bouton de Billou,” “Le
pied qui r’mue,” or other minor works. The Emperor had no ear for music.
At the Opera he would doze until aroused by a tap from the Empress’s
fan. Something from the “Grande Duchesse,” or the duet of the “Deux
Gendarmes” from “Madame Angot”--these were his favourites. At night,
when he was going to his room, preceded by suisses, and followed by a
group of silent personages, he would be heard humming:

    “Brigadier, répondit Pandore,
     Brigadier, vous avez raison.”

To the Empress, as to many of her friends and attendants, the principal
features of life at Fontainebleau were the carriage drives, the
déjeuners on the grass in the forest, the excursions to neighbouring
villages, and visits to the churches. When the Emperor attended these
rural outings his carriage was drawn by six horses--two more than those
of the other vehicles. As the imperial party left the château the drums
beat “aux champs,” the guard presented arms, and the cavalcade swept
along to the music of the horses’ bells. Neither black clouds,
threatening rain, nor mists, nor a scorching sun prevented an excursion
if it had been arranged. One day, after a pelting shower, the Empress
waded through muddy paths until she had reached the top of a steep hill.
The Chevalier Nigra (Italian Ambassador) and M. Octave Feuillet followed
her as they best could through the slush, to the ruin of their silk hats
(!) and thin boots. The Empress had not a dry thread on her; some of her
garments were in rags; the dripping branches made walking a heavy
business. When in time they got back to the carriages, the sun was
shining, making the men’s coats smoke like a chimney. Never had the
Empress more enjoyed herself, never had she looked more beautiful. A
quarter of an hour after her return to the château she was the first at
table, laughing at the spectacle of the Ambassador and the author in
their ruined hats, her cheeks still rosy from the long tramp in the
sodden forest paths and up the slippery hillside. As, however, she
insisted that she was late, she had wrapped in paper ten sous, the fine
which all who were not punctual at dinner had to pay to General Lepic
before daring to seat themselves at table. (This fine was a survival of
the custom which had prevailed at the royal Courts. The Duchesse de
Berry was so unpunctual that she was fined every day!)

In the early days of the Franco-Mexican campaign--after the defeat of
the imperial forces in their hopeless attempt to capture Puebla--Count
Bismarck was the guest of the Emperor and Empress at Fontainebleau. He
had just been appointed Prussian Minister to France. No one could have
had a warmer welcome than the diplomatist. Bismarck was well known to
his host and hostess, who had received him in 1855, the year of the
first Exhibition--the year also of the visit to France of Queen
Victoria, the Prince Consort, the Princess Royal, and the Prince of
Wales. Next he attended the conference held in Paris to settle the
question of Neuchâtel. In 1857 Bismarck did not display any hostility to
the Emperor Napoleon’s wish for a rapprochement between France and
Prussia. The Emperor had said to his Foreign Minister, Thouvenel: “These
two neighbouring States (France and Prussia), placed by their
intellectual culture and their institutions at the head of civilization,
ought to mutually support each other.”

Bismarck and the Emperor had a “political walk” through the grounds of
Fontainebleau, then in their autumnal beauty (it was October, 1862). The
Prussian Minister[63] had the art of making himself agreeable, and
became a general favourite with the guests of the “séries,” among whom
he was the most striking figure. As the Emperor unbosomed himself to his
guest, and smoked and talked with him, nothing could have been farther
from his thoughts than that, eight years later, he would find in
Bismarck (who had yet to earn his sobriquet, the “Man of Blood and
Iron”) his implacable enemy.

“The Emperor,” said Bismarck later, “asked me abruptly if I believed the
King was disposed to conclude an alliance with him. I replied:
‘Circumstances alone can enable us to appreciate the necessity and the
utility of alliances.’”

Bismarck had been almost the only man in his country who admired
Napoleon III. He had even advised King Frederick William IV. to enter
into an alliance with France. When he took over the Paris Legation he
was received with much favour, not only by the Court, but by the
official world; and the Foreign Minister (Thouvenel) wrote to the Duc de
Gramont: “We are assured that Bismarck has the most friendly feeling for
us.” When King William succeeded Frederick William IV. he was not far
from sharing Bismarck’s views of the French Emperor. Those views
underwent a change in 1863, the result of the intervention of Napoleon
III. in the affairs of Poland--a step which did the Poles no good, and
temporarily alienated the Tsar (Alexander II.) from Napoleon. Bismarck
was not slow to see how he could utilize the Emperor’s mistake, and
henceforth dismissed from his mind all idea of a Franco-Prussian

It was at a Ministerial Council held later at Fontainebleau that a
dramatic incident occurred. The Emperor had asked his consort to be
present, somewhat to the embarrassment of Thouvenel, whose duty it was
to present a report recommending an early recognition of the new kingdom
of Italy. This did not at all accord with the Empress’s well-known
views. Scarcely had the Foreign Minister concluded the reading of the
report than she burst into tears and left the Council Chamber. There was
a painful silence, broken by the Emperor saying to Marshal Vaillant:
“Please follow Her Majesty and attend to her.”



The social history of the Second Empire was resumed in the Tuileries,
St. Cloud, Fontainebleau, Biarritz, and Compiègne. The name of the
latter lingered fondly on the lips of the fine fleur of English society
between 1855 and the winter of 1869-70. It is well to remember that it
was to Queen Victoria that we owed the entente cordiale. That, as time
passed, the mutual understanding which she secured flickered, and gave
place to bad blood after the “attempt” of Orsini, Pierri, Rudio, and
Gomez, was no fault of Queen Victoria. But the bombs were designed by
the master-mind in Belgium, and manufactured at Birmingham, and London
was the scene of the “conspirations.” It is true that the personal
relations between the Sovereigns, which had been securely cemented in
1855 at Windsor, London, Osborne, and St. Cloud, remained unchanged, and
naturally. Was not Queen Victoria the best friend the French Sovereigns
possessed in Europe? What angered the French nation was the shelter
given to the Italian assassins by England. Had it been otherwise, the
tragedy of January 14, 1858, would have been more difficult--perhaps
impossible--of achievement. Such was the French view, and not an
unreasonable one.

But even the attempted murder of Napoleon III. and the Empress Eugénie
did not, we may assume, cause English people who were honoured with
invitations to Compiègne to think twice before accepting them. Those
“Compiègnes”--how many souvenirs the mention of them evokes! Was it not
at Compiègne that Mme. Fortoul’s gross insult had as an immediate result
the Emperor’s belated “proposal” to Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo? Was it not
there that the Prince and Princess of Wales were the principal figures
in 1868, when any Cassandra who had ventured to predict the imminence of
a “Sedan” would have been derided and scorned?[65]

The first of what came to be known as “the Compiègnes” dates from
December 18, 1852, six weeks before the marriage, and the Comtesse de
Montijo and her daughter were of the party. The Emperor of a fortnight
had arrived at the château a few days previously amidst the roar of
cannon; he had passed under triumphal arches and between rows of troops
and the local firemen; his unmusical ears had been amused by the
“tralalas” of the peasantry gathered from the countryside for miles
around. With him came his cousins, Prince Jérôme Napoleon (not yet
married to Princesse Clotilde, one of the survivors of to-day) and
Princesse Mathilde (who had been long separated from her impossible
husband, Prince Anatole Demidoff), Ambassadors and Imperial Ministers,
and, of course, many ladies--Mme. Drouyn de Lhuys, Mme. de Persigny, and
Mme. de Contades, to mention a few.



     Her Imperial Majesty represented these characters at costume balls
     given at the Palace of the Tuileries. The illustrations are from
     private photographs, and are reproduced by permission of the
     proprietors of _Femina_, the popular illustrated Paris paper, in
     which they originally appeared.

_To face p. 128._]

The Emperor knew what was expected of him. He had not been four years
President without learning the métier. The festivities began with a ball
on the 18th; on the 20th there was a great “meet,” attended by two
hundred ladies, all mounted, and in Louis XV. costume--“casaque à
basques” and “chapeau mousquetaire.” Of course, “the Montijos” were
among the “dames chasseresses,” and provoked criticism as well as
admiration at the “meet” at the carrefour Bourbon and in the evening at
the curée, by torchlight, in the court of the château. At this stag-hunt
the first of the “boutons” made their appearance; these were favoured
persons allowed by the Sovereign to wear the green uniform and
three-cornered hat, which, to unæsthetic British “pursuers,” smacked of
the theatrical, just as scarlet coats may have seemed to Frenchmen who
were occasionally seen in our shires.

The two “foreign ladies”--Mme. and Mlle. de Montijo--were ardent
sportswomen. They rode boldly in the stag-hunts, and they appeared at
the “shoots” with guns--delicately-made weapons--“jolis joujoux,” M.
Bouchot calls them. They tramped through the coverts alongside the
Emperor; no other ladies shared this privilege. This alone was enough to
set envious tongues wagging. Nobody admitted the possibility of what
actually happened; nobody believed in an “engagement”; but many believed
in “adventures” which never occurred. In reality there was played in the
alleys and coverts of Compiègne a final act of diplomacy, in which Spain
wasted less powder and shot than the spectators imagined.

Between December 18 and 25--that fateful week for the Emperor and Mlle.
de Montijo--the Gymnase company performed the “Fils de Famille,” and on
Christmas Day came another big “meet” of the imperial hounds. The
“foreign ladies” assisted at both these events, which preceded by a few
days the news of the engagement. Every year thereafter the Court removed
to Compiègne in November, and there the Festival of Ste. Eugénie was
regularly celebrated on the 15th.

Compiègne was neither a Fontainebleau nor a St. Cloud; in some respects
it was like the Tuileries. The Empress’s “Compiègnes” were at once
sans-gêne and dignified--an amalgam of town and country festivities;
château life carried to an excess of luxuriousness; an intermediate
existence between summer at Fontainebleau and winter at the Tuileries.
In the country, amongst the vast woods, with relays of guests, the
Empress was happy. In the day there was now a “meet,” anon a “shoot”; at
night there were raouts, dances, charades, theatrical performances. The
invités, as a rule, remained four or five days; others, a week or so. On
the Empress’s fête-day (Ste. Eugénie) there was a family gathering.
Towards the end of November snow or rain usually interfered with hunting
and shooting.

Each of the “seriés” was composed of from sixty to eighty
persons--social stars, actors and actresses, singers, authors, painters,
journalists, and mere gens d’esprit. They left Paris by a special train
at two o’clock, and it was often dark when they reached the château in
the English chars-à-bancs. Amongst the guests of every variety were some
who were not remarkable for social graces. Here and there were men who
apparently did not find it easy to tie a white cravat properly; yet for
these the sunniest smiles of the imperial host and hostess were
reserved. Some of the guests were encumbered by baggage--huge boxes and
trunks choked with uniforms and dresses. The sorting of these, under the
superintendence of valets and suisses, provided amusement for those who
watched the scene from the upper windows.

By a quarter-past seven the guests had to be correctly dressed--the men
in tail-coats, short breeches, black silk stockings, and shoes with
steel buckles--and in the large drawing-room awaiting the entry of the
Sovereigns. Only the official personages had places allotted to them at
table; the others sat where they pleased, or where they could. Dinners
at Courts are said to be very much alike. But those at Compiègne had a
spécialité; everything was superlatively good, and the music excellent.
On the stuccoed columns of the dining-room were statues of Mme. Lætitia
and Napoleon I. The plates were of Sèvres, the girandoles of silver, a
surtout in biscuit (which faced the Emperor) was adorned with a hunting
scene. The legion of servants wore coats with gold lace; their perruques
were powdered, their stockings of pink silk. The head-servants--maîtres
d’hôtels--wore plum-coloured tail-coats, embroidered with silver; each
had a sword. The unseen orchestra played softly, so that conversation
was undisturbed. In less than three-quarters of an hour the Emperor and
Empress rose; the guests, passing through the salle des gardes, returned
to the salons.

When professional actors and actresses appeared at Compiègne, the great
salle de spectacle was more than usually crowded, for on these occasions
the audience was composed, not only of the Sovereigns’ guests, but of
the officers of the garrison and many of the principal residents. The
comédies de salon were represented in a gallery on the ground-floor of
the Palace, where a temporary stage--technically known as a
“fit-up”--was erected. These amateur performances were given for the
exclusive benefit of the imperial couple’s guests, the “house-party.” On
evenings when there was no acting there were “games” of various kinds,
some of them very similar to those provided for children’s gatherings;
or there was an informal dance, to the strains of a piano-organ,
“played” by the guests in turn, and sometimes by the Emperor himself.

It was in the little theatre on the ground-floor of the château that
Octave Feuillet’s piece, “Les Portraits de la Marquise,” was originally
produced. This was an event, for the Empress played the principal part,
which was “specially written” for her. Here, too, was given M. Legouvé’s
spirituelle charade, the word being “anniversaire,” and the occasion the
Festival of Ste. Eugénie (November 15).

     In the autumn of 1865 (says the Marquis de Massa[66]) the little
     private theatre of the Palace of Compiègne was placed at my
     disposal for the production of a revue de circonstance, the
     principal scenes and the “cast” (comprising thirty characters!)
     having been approved of by the Empress after she had suggested a
     few alterations. The first volume of the Emperor’s work, “Les
     Commentaires de César,” had just been published, and this was the
     title of my revue. Of the ladies who appeared in the piece, the
     “star” was the Princesse de Metternich, with such charming
     satellites as the Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès, the Marquise de
     Galliffet, the Baronne de Poïlly, and Mme. Bartholoni.[67] Baron
     Lambert (then “Lieutenant” of the Imperial Hunt) was the compère
     [the stage butt], Edmond Davilliers the manager, and Viollet-le-Duc
     [the eminent architect and antiquarian] the prompter. The
     “orchestra” was a piano, played by Prince de Metternich, who as an
     amateur accompanist was unexcelled. The dresses were designed by
     Marcelin and by Émile Perrin, director of the Opéra.

     The prologue was a very simple one. The compère--a worthy tradesman
     arriving in Paris to witness an assault-at-arms on the
     Champ-de-Mars--was surprised to hear that the event was in honour
     of Julius Cæsar, who, having been recently exhumed, was going to
     review our modern legions and our centurions. As, however, the
     Roman General did not make his appearance, the military review was
     transformed into a theatrical revue, in which the events of the
     year were treated, with comments by the compère.

     The scenes of actualité in the first act included a parody of a
     kicking mule, performing every evening at the Champs Elysées
     circus, the person who succeeded in mounting the animal receiving
     100 francs. The requisite accessories had been lent to me by Jules
     Noriac, director of the Variétés, and the mule was represented by
     two of the Prince Imperial’s young friends, Conneau and Pierre de
     Bourgoing, who ensconced themselves in the cardboard carcass, one
     in front, the other behind. As they found it difficult to see where
     they were going, Lambert, at the first rehearsals, was obliged to
     raise the animal’s tail, and give them instructions by this most
     curious telephone. Princesse de Metternich took several
     characters, her best being the one called “La Chanson,” containing
     some verses having a direct reference to the Empress, and alluding
     to her presence at the bedsides of the victims of the cholera
     epidemic at Amiens.

     A recent cordial meeting of the French and English squadrons at
     Plymouth formed the subject of an allegorical scene in the second
     act. England was represented by Mme. Bartholoni, Imperial France by
     Mme. Edmond de Pourtalès. The first was accompanied by an old
     sailor and a soldier in scarlet uniform; the second by one of the
     corps of the “invalides,” wearing the St. Helena medal, and a young
     soldier of the 90th Foot Regiment, who had been in the fighting at
     the taking of Puebla. In this scene the Prince Imperial appeared,
     in a grenadier’s uniform, as the “Future” (l’Avenir).

     “Les Commentaires de César” was so successful that it was performed
     the next night, when the Emperor complimented me, and gave me a
     copy of his book, inscribed “Souvenir du Commentateur de ‘César’ au
     commentateur de ‘César.’” The Emperor added: “But you must not let
     your profession of dramatic author interfere with your military
     duties.” “Heaven forbid, Sire,” I replied; and I proffered a
     request to be sent to Mexico (where war was then raging). “Well,”
     said His Majesty, “I will think over it.” A few days later my
     request was granted.

“Some may perhaps consider,” said the Marquis, “that I have availed
myself of ‘reportage,’ sprinkled with water blessed by the Court, but
‘holy water’ sprinkled sorrowfully over cinders, for what remains to-day
to represent that Court of the Tuileries which was so splendid? Only
some disinterested partisans, who, without conspiring, sometimes cross
the frontier to salute the noble heir of the name of Napoleon. And
elsewhere Pietri, the faithful and devoted secretary, and the Duchesse
de Mouchy, a weeping niece--two waifs, tending with pious care, forty
years after the shipwreck, an august widow, sacred by misfortune, after
having worn a crown, and standing on the shore--a foreign
shore--guarding two tombs.”

At Compiègne, in the autumn of 1861, the talk was mainly of Mexico and
its proposed Emperor. This “Idée Napoléonienne” was quite outside the
intentions of the three Powers (France, England, and Spain) as expressed
in the Convention signed on October 31, 1861, and the Emperor’s idea was
not suspected by the guests then at Compiègne. Among them were some of
the Portuguese Princes. Consternation fell upon the Court when, in the
midst of the festivities, news arrived, first of the sudden death of the
Infant Don Fernando, then of the young King of Portugal, Dom Pedro V.
The convenances had to be observed; there was an end of the programme of
entertainments arranged for that particular “series.”

After the regulation period of the Court “mourning” for the Infant and
the King (poisoning had been darkly hinted at), fêtes were organized for
the next batch of guests and the following “séries,” and mingling with
Princes of the Blood were many intellectual lights--Octave Feuillet and
Prosper Mérimée (both quite at home at the château), Gounod and
Meissonier, Camille Doucet and Paul de Musset (brother of Alfred, the
poet), Jules Sandeau and Cabanel (the renowned painter). The Empress was
in exceptionally high spirits, for she was aware of her consort’s secret
views concerning Mexico, and rejoiced at the coming struggle. Had not
her beloved Spain been grossly insulted and its Ambassador expelled? Had
not Juarez disregarded treaties and shown contempt for the two
Vice-Consuls of France? The expedition would be at once an avenging and
a civilizing army, which would make a country in which the flag of
Castille had long floated respect order and the Catholic faith. Vain



     Her Imperial Majesty represented these characters at costume balls
     given at the Palace of the Tuileries. The illustrations are from
     private photographs, and are reproduced by permission of the
     proprietors of Femina, the popular illustrated Paris paper, in
     which they originally appeared.

_To face p. 136._]



A legion of foreigners awaited the establishment of the Second Empire to
swoop down upon Paris and make it their happy hunting-ground. These
invaders came from all countries; the majority, perhaps, from the South
American Republics, the lands then flowing in milk and honey, as
typified by gold and silver. They were called “Exotics,” and Paris was
swamped by “l’Exotisme.” For countenancing these parasites, these
nobodies, with their riches and their low moral code, three ladies were
blamed--the Empress Eugénie, the Princesse de Metternich, and the
Comtesse de Castiglione: a Spaniard, an Austrian, and an Italian.

In this vulgar crowd were Princes and Princesses, some, at least, of
whom, had conferred these titles upon themselves; a few were of princely
rank, but these were not the wealthiest. “Paradoxical as it may appear,
Exoticism was Parisian in its essence.”[68] The women were superb, “with
lips amorously red and facile; the girls had wicked eyes and undulating
forms; the faces of the men were sufficiently bronzed to give a
suggestion of dramatic adventures aforetime. The Exotic ladies, with all
the assurance of a ribald gang raiding a town, gave themselves great
airs”; but their hauteur did not prevent them from opening their arms.
Parisians at first held aloof from these besiegers, smelling
disgustingly of money; but the revolt did not last long, and it was
followed by new expressions of amiability. Brazilians, Armenians, and
Turks--new and unknown meteors--came, and in a fit of remorse for their
previous disdain Paris society flocked to the abodes of the new-comers,
clamouring for champagne and sandwiches.

     The spiteful talk of society, and also a natural instinct, threw
     the Empress among this cosmopolitan society, which only asked to be
     officially received. The salons of the Tuileries overflowed with
     people who felt themselves all the more at their ease because
     nobody troubled about their antecedents or their morality.

     To the Empress Exoticism was like a palliative for the disdainful
     attitude of Royalist society, and it seemed as if she surrounded
     herself by these crazy people, who transformed the Palace into a
     sort of Babel, to revenge herself for the aloofness of the
     Royalists. Thus she was surrounded by a throng of women throwing
     glances all round, and sometimes their lips--women with hoydenish
     ways, eccentric tastes, feverish desires, amorous and tempting
     laughs, like an assembly of foreign and French Sultanas, whose
     nationality and difference of blood disappeared in the supreme
     object, pleasure. In the chroniques these women were qualified by
     the word “Cocodettes”; in history they are classified as “Femmes de

     The latter have left a special reputation. They remain as the
     absolute representation of an epoch of voluptuous aspirations, of
     pleasures of the flesh, of feverish passions. The men were merely

     The greater part of the responsibility fell upon the women. The
     sensualism which filtered through their bodies, the thrills of
     passion which animated their bosoms, captured men. In those days
     they loved readily and madly.

     Young men, dominated by the intoxication of the flesh which stole
     into their brains, forgot the things of the heart; the “male”
     replaced the “man.” They had not to look far for their ecstasies,
     when women concealed their souls to show their beautiful limbs. It
     was an orgy--a perfumed, coquettish, gracious orgy, all the more
     seductive because it was veiled, because it was full of caresses;
     élégance was everything.

     Some of these women, overcome by a thirst for orgies and by the
     vertigo impelling them to seek the unknown, roamed the boulevards
     by night in quest of an adventure, or betook themselves to the
     Opéra masked balls, finishing their Odyssey in a cabinet
     particulier.... Roman history was fashionable under the Empire, and
     people played at being Romans.

     Others, of a more poetical temperament--perhaps less ardent,
     certainly more sober outwardly--found pleasure in intrigues with
     clerics. Louis XV. abbés are not rare in Paris, and more than one
     priestly hand could write interesting memoirs. These men who live
     with Christ have a magnetic influence over some women. They do not
     understand the ordinary priest--the priest of the people. They want
     to find in their priest a man of fashion; he must have a perfumed
     stole, just as they demand, at the altar, a gold or an ivory
     crucifix to kiss. Were it of wood it would kill their unreasoning
     faith, and they would fly from it; a plain, severely-cut soutane
     would be a terrible blow to their senses.

     There were certainly radiant and pure women who passed serenely
     through this cohue. Protected by their virtue--or, what is better,
     for virtue is relative, protected by some chaste dream, some
     wifely or motherly love--there were some who emerged immaculate
     from this whirlwind. Like those hastily-scribbled messages which
     shipwrecked sailors put in a bottle and confide to the waves, these
     women, after being shaken by the storm of passion which growled
     around them, returned to the hearth, to the conjugal bed, with all
     their grace and all their charm of female purity; and to the mad
     shouts of the mondains, to the sterile hymn of the fevered throng,
     they answered with the sweet and simple murmur of the song of songs
     of fruitful and infinite love.

But there is another side to the medal. In those Second Empire days it
was not a case of the abject degradation of a society which, rotting,
engulfs itself. All these men, all these women, these Don Juans and
these Ninons de l’Enclos’, had healthy blood in their veins, and fire
under the skin. They bore themselves proudly. The men were brave; the
women were beautiful--some intelligent. There were women who exercised a
sovereign rule over the arts and politics. There were salons which had
at their head some feminine aristocratic personality; others, swayed by
some radiant bourgeoise beauty. With their slender fingers, bourgeoises
or patricians, they led the grand farandole of the lazy. They sought out
the poets, the artists, who work in the shade. A smile, a flower taken
from a palpitating corsage, for a sketch; a kiss--more still,
sometimes--for a sonnet. “With very little alteration, I would write
this page, if it had to be rewritten, just as it is given here.”[69]

Among these ladies, two especially--“Exotics”--are noted by M. de Lano
as having preoccupied the Empress by their actions in various ways--the
Princesse de Metternich and the Comtesse de Castiglione. The first of
these was apparently the Empress’s friend; the second openly hostile to
her Majesty, posing to her face as her rival, at one time the
Sovereign’s successful rival. “On one side [that of the Austrian
Princess] was an affection which, perhaps, still continues; on the
other, a hatred which ended only in death.”

     Among the foreigners of distinction received at the Imperial Court
     in 1861-62 were the members of some leading Mexican families, who
     found in Paris a haven of refuge. The Empress, as a Spaniard,
     welcomed these visitors and condoled with them when the intended
     expedition was no longer a secret. They saw in her the liberator of
     their country. In the minds of the Sovereigns there was already the
     germ of an idea of offering Austria, in revenge for the loss of her
     Italian possessions, an Empire for one of her Archdukes.

     Very reserved at the outset concerning an eventuality flattering to
     the House of Austria, but which might result in illusions, the
     Prince de Metternich studied the question during a visit to Vienna
     and discussed it with his Emperor, who appeared to be not
     unfavourable to the plans of Napoleon III. Metternich wrote to the
     Empress Eugénie expressing his enthusiasm for her personally, and
     on his return to France co-operated zealously in an expedition for
     which some have asserted the Empress was wholly responsible.

From the year in which she first appeared in Paris as the wife of the
Austrian Ambassador, Mme. de Metternich aroused criticism. “She gave us
the impression,” says M. de Lano, “of one who had set herself the task
of publicly discrediting the imperial Court by her eccentricities, her
lightness, and the equivocal style of dress which she made fashionable
at the Tuileries. Her influence had not a favourable effect on the
destinies and the undertakings of Napoleon III. and his consort; and if
this were the place to inquire into the sincerity of the sentiments
professed by the Prince and Princess for the Emperor and Empress, one
might be disposed to ask if the Ambassador and his wife did not from the
first enact a comedy--the comedy of friendship--the better to aid in the
downfall of a man whom, au fond, they could not love.”

Irreproachable as a wife, the Princess brought “trouble, and almost
indecency,” to the Court of the Tuileries. The Empress saw only with the
Princess’s eyes, and heard only with that lady’s ears. The Court ought
to have been able to reply to the raillery of foreign Courts by an
absolute correctness; but the Princess made the Tuileries a sort of
school-boy’s playground. Mme. de Metternich took lessons of the
café-concert singer, Thérèsa,[70] took her to the Tuileries, and gave
“imitations” of her at the Palace, to the dismay of some, whom these
displays saddened, and to the amusement of not a few feather-headed
folk. Entirely owing to the influence of the Princess, Thérèsa was made
acceptable to--at all events, was accepted by--some of the aristocrats
of the old Faubourg, and one night, at a ball given by the Duchesse de
Galliera, the Princess presented her café-concert friend to the
Duchess’s guests, who waxed indignant.

     As Thérèsa came forward to sing, a young lady, Mlle. de L----,
     rose, and, going up to the Duc d’H----, a very witty man, said: “Do
     you think, Monsieur le Duc, that the moment has come when a young
     girl should retire?” He smiled, and, pointing to Mgr. Chigi (the
     Papal Nuncio), who did not withdraw at the appearance of the comic
     singer, said: “Why should _you_ retire, mademoiselle? Where the
     Nuncio is to be seen, I suppose a young lady is in no danger!”

When the incident was reported to Mme. de Metternich, she said: “Ah!
these old heads upon young shoulders! It seems that I have rather upset
them!” She not only coped with the suggestive “cancan,” but one evening,
in a charade, appeared as, and in the dress of, a cabman.

M. de Lano affirms that “these incohérences, these insane manifestations
of a decadent society, pleased the Empress, who encouraged and
authorized them with the unconsciousness of a pretty woman, intoxicated
by unforeseen happiness and her unhoped-for royalty.” The intimacy with
the Empress, resulting from Mme. de Metternich’s “originality”--which
perhaps was studied and calculating--doubtless made her the clever
collaboratrice of her husband in his ambassadorial labours, enabling
her, it was said, to snatch precious secrets from one[71] who regarded
her as a devoted friend. “This, apparently, is the explanation of those
checks so often sustained by the Emperor and his Ministers in their
negotiations with foreign diplomatists.”

Enemies abroad, intriguing ladies at the imperial palaces, an Emperor
“using himself up” by his indiscriminate “affairs,” an unsuspecting and
too-good-natured Empress--what were all these but precursors of
ultimate dynastic ruin?

It was the Princesse de Metternich who, after the Empress had been
singing the praises of Marie Antoinette, said: “Je voudrais bien être
votre Princesse de Lamballe”--a doubtful compliment, if all that has
been recorded of that lady can be believed.

Princesse Pauline de Metternich is[72] the daughter of Comte Sandor, a
Hungarian grand seigneur, and granddaughter of the celebrated President
of the Congress of Vienna. In the sixties she was as much a Parisienne
as a grande dame, and she had the courage of her opinions. Needless to
say, she was severely criticized. She had her own method of answering
her assailants, one of whom she sought out and thus addressed: “Sir, in
what you have publicly printed about me you have absolutely lied, for
you know that I am incapable of acting in the manner you have

She was one of Worth’s principal clients, and not only superintended the
making of her own robes at the great man’s atelier (it would be profane
to call it a “shop”), but gave him hints and advice. The late M.
Aurélien Scholl, in one of his most mordant articles, audaciously
asserted that the celebrated couturier of the Rue de la Paix--whom
Scholl described as a “faune de la toilette”--had dared, when “trying
on” one of the Princess’s toilettes, to “lay his mercenary hands on the
bust of this patrician.” The Princess resented the expression, and
Scholl, to allay her anger, wrote, and sent her, a poem of thirty-six
lines, beginning:

    “Si je vous demandai, Madame la Princesse,
     Un pardon que le ciel n’a jamais refusé,
     Pourriez-vous me trouver seulement bien osé
     Après l’aveu loyal de ma grande détresse?
     Laissez plutôt tomber, ainsi qu’une déesse,
     De vos yeux si hautains un regard apaisé!”

The Marquis de Massa thinks this poetical apology “le plus galant du
monde, as they say at the Comédie Française.” The story goes--and it was
repeated by the Marquis shortly before his death in October, 1910--that
at the first performance of “Tannhäuser” at the Paris Opéra (March 14,
1861) the Princess was so exasperated at the derision with which the
work was received that she broke her fan.[73] Let us hear Princesse de
Metternich’s own version of how Wagner’s great work came to be
represented in Paris in 1861:

     As I had been told on all sides that no work by Wagner would ever
     be performed in France, and least of all in Paris, I hesitated
     before taking any steps to secure a representation of “Tannhäuser.”
     One day, however, an unexpected opportunity occurred of realizing
     my idea. At a ball at the Tuileries the Emperor honoured me with a
     somewhat long conversation. We talked about the Opéra, and I could
     not help expressing my regret that the répertoire was so seldom
     varied, not extending beyond “Guillaume Tell,” the “Huguenots,” or
     the “Favorite.”

     “Why,” I asked the Emperor, “is it not possible to perform in Paris
     new works such as are produced at the Austrian and German
     opera-houses?” And I said to myself, “Now or never is the moment
     to mention Wagner and ‘Tannhäuser.’” I made up my mind to do so
     without delay. I said, “I have a great request to make to your

     “A request à propos of the Opéra!” exclaimed the Emperor,

     “Yes, Sire, à propos of an opera which, above all others, I should
     like to see represented here. It would be the happiness of my

     “And what is this marvellous opera?” asked the Emperor.

     “It is by Richard Wagner, Sire, one of the greatest of living
     composers. It is called ‘Tannhäuser’; it is done at Vienna, and,
     although it is not admired by everybody, connaisseurs regard it as
     a chef-d’œuvre.”

     “‘Tannhäuser!’ Richard Wagner!” said the Emperor, stroking his
     moustache in the well-known way. “I have never heard either of this
     opera or of the composer. And you think it is really a fine work?”

     I replied affirmatively, whereupon the Emperor, turning towards the
     Grand Chamberlain, Comte Bacciochi, who superintended the imperial
     theatres, said, in his simple fashion: “You hear, Bacciochi? Mme.
     la Princesse de Metternich is interested in an opera called
     ‘Tannhäuser,’ by one Richard Wagner; she would like to see it
     represented here. Have it produced.”

     That is how “Tannhäuser” came to be performed in Paris.

            *       *       *       *       *

     While preparations were being made for introducing the composer of
     “Tannhäuser” to the Parisians in 1861, Liszt happened to be staying
     in the French capital. The Emperor and the Empress Eugénie had
     heard that the Abbé was amongst them, and they expressed to
     Princesse de Metternich their desire to see and hear him. I was
     asked to bring him to the Tuileries, and Liszt received an
     invitation in due form. After dinner Liszt came in, and charmed
     everybody by his playing--notably of one of Schubert’s waltzes. The
     next day the Emperor charged my husband to present the Cross of the
     Légion d’Honneur to Liszt, and to thank him on behalf of the
     Emperor and Empress for the delight he had given them.

On Sunday, March 12, 1861, the eve of the première, Wagner wrote to the
great cantatrice, Marie Sass, whom he addressed “Mlle. Marie Sax”:

     Ma très sainte Elisabeth!

     Ne savez-vous pas que l’on refuse même à la cour des places,
     puisqu’il n’y a plus?

     Croyez-moi, je suis déchiré de tous cotés et prêt à me jeter dans

     Envoyez pourtant demain matin pour voir s’il y avez [_sic_]
     possibilité de vous procurer _une_ place. Je ne parle pas de plus.

     Pardonnez et soyez bonne à votre très dévoué.


This highly-born and highly-educated woman was, in the opinion of many,
the evil genius of the imperial Court, while her husband took no pains
to conceal the fact that he “adored” the Empress. A merry lady was
Pauline de Metternich in those days, as this story will show. It was at
Fontainebleau, and the pretty butterflies of the Court were dying of
ennui, when Mme. de Metternich proposed that they should go for a walk
in the neighbourhood with shortened skirts. The suggestion found general
favour, with the Empress as well as with the ladies by whom she was
surrounded. While the majority were arraying themselves in abbreviated
drapery, it occurred to one of the suite that the spectacle of the
Empress of the French rambling along the country roads in a frock
barely covering her knees would be a rather pitiful one, and she
ventured to remonstrate with Mme. de Metternich for proposing it.

The “fashionable monkey” was, as may be supposed, equal to the occasion,
and, with much naïveté, replied: “What harm can there possibly be in the
Empress dressing as we do, and going for a walk with us?”

“There may not be much harm in it, perhaps,” observed the remonstrating
lady; “but it strikes me that it is unsuitable for a Sovereign. _We_
might venture out in short skirts, but not the Empress--decidedly not.”
She added: “And, besides, my dear Pauline, pray tell me this: Would you
advise your own Sovereign, at Vienna, to dress herself up in such a

“Oh,” was Mme. de Metternich’s answer, “that would be quite a different
matter. I certainly should not advise the Empress Elisabeth to go out in
short skirts; but you must remember that _my_ Empress is a real
Princess, a _real_ Empress, while yours, ma chère, is Mlle. de Montijo!”

Some probably regarded this as clever; others may have deemed it
impertinent, if not impudent, and doubtless among these latter was
included the Empress Elisabeth, who often manifested her friendly
feeling for her sister-Sovereign. Let us, however, be perfectly just and
fair to the Austrian Ambassadress. She was admittedly more than a little
méchante; but it should not be forgotten that she induced some of the
most brilliant and beautiful women of the time to attend the Empress’s
Court, and that but for her the Palace might never have seen within its
walls such grandes dames as the Princesse de Sagan, the Comtesse de
Pourtalès, the Comtesse de Beaumont, Mme. de Canisy, e tutti quanti. If
she was as “ugly as a monkey,” she was at least, “spirituelle comme un
démon et bonne comme un ange,” the most radiant star of the
constellation of pretty women which graced the Tuileries.

Thérèsa, who was dubbed, very irreverently, “the music-hall Patti,”
interpreted what later were styled “les chansons rosses,” and Mme. de
Metternich was blamed, not altogether unjustly, for having introduced
into the salons a singer and reciter of impertinent “comic” effusions
only to be heard in the cafés-concerts. By most people Thérèsa’s ditties
were regarded as highly diverting; others considered them “impossible,”
and calculated to lower the public taste.

Mme. de Metternich’s presence in Paris certainly gave an impetus to the
reviving fashionable movement. On all sides there were receptions and
other entertainments, to the complete satisfaction of the tradespeople.
Among the frequenters of the official salons were to be found many young
men from the Government offices who were something more than good
dancers. Many of them had a future; some attained success, and some came
to the ground when their fortunes appeared to be brightest. One of these
latter was young Soubeyran, who reached a high position under M. Achille
Fould, Minister of Finance. He was a grandson of Savary, Duc de Rovigo,
and experienced all the vicissitudes of fortune. Luckily he had a wife
(daughter of the Marquis de Saint-Aulaire) who remained devoted to him
in his darkest hours. Before he became almost the greatest financier
during the reign of Napoleon III., Soubeyran (who, in many respects,
was a man of the Albert Grant type, although, unlike the English
speculator, he was “born”) had joined the Crédit Foncier as
Deputy-Governor, his chief being M. Frémy. The latter retired, and
Soubeyran stepped into his shoes. Unfortunately for himself, Soubeyran
embroiled the Crédit Foncier so deeply in the affairs of the Egyptian
Debt that the Government removed him from his position, and ordered him
to pay his successors 40,000,000 francs, although later it was
recognized that Soubeyran’s methods were highly beneficial to the
country! Soubeyran, whose figure remains legendary in the world of la
haute finance, was not, however, even then, completely “broke.” He
started afresh, founded two large banks, and lived in sumptuous style;
then he involved himself in dealings in the Italian rente, and fell,
never to rise again, dragging down with him all who had believed in his

It was a moment in the reign when the Bourse and the great banks joined
in a vast development of commercial undertakings, among them the
magasins of the “Louvre,” inaugurated in 1855, and viewed rather
sceptically by some of the leading financiers, who did not rush to
invest their capital in the huge drapery business of MM. Hériot and
Chauchart.[74] They had been employés, without any other advantages but
those accruing from exceptional intelligence and untiring industry, and
they found their patrons among the tout Paris of the Second Empire. Of
course, the success of Hériot and Chauchart led to imitators of their
methods, and ere many years had elapsed there arose similar immense
“stores”--“Lafayette,” “Dufayel,” the “Printemps,” and others. It was in
the reign of Napoleon III. that the “Bon Marché” sprang up in what had
been one of the quietest quarters of Paris.[75] The Emperor saw with
supreme satisfaction the creation and rapid progress of these
establishments, the success of which spelt ever-increasing national

Of the “fast” set--composed of men of all ages--the most conspicuous was
the Duc de Grammont-Caderousse.[76] A fair-complexioned man, of average
height, with small moustache and reddish whiskers, small head, and an
abnormally long neck, circled by a straight collar, his high
cheek-bones, sunken face, slightly rouged, and cavernous voice,
evidenced the existence of phthisis. There were few more
brilliant talkers even among the men of letters whose society he
affected--Aurélien Scholl, Théodore Barrière, d’Anatole de la Forge,
Jules Noriac, and Alphonse Cayron, to name only a few. Despite the
English cut of his clothes, he was a Frenchman to his finger-tips. Some
of the achievements of the notable viveur whom the Duchesse de Persigny
christened “le Duc Darling” may be summarized. He had much to do with
the bringing-out of Hortense Schneider, the creator of the principal
character in Offenbach’s “La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein.” He jumped
his horse over a dining-table covered with Sèvres--a freak which cost
him a small fortune. “Rigolboche,” the notorious dancer of the “cancan,”
won the considerable bet which he made with her that she would not, in
broad daylight, cross the boulevard from the Café Anglais to the Maison
Dorée in Nature’s own garb. “He lit his cigar on La Marche steeplechase
course with an English thousand-pound bank-note (which he had just won),
because the rustling of the crisp paper grated on his nerves. He gave
Cora Pearl[77] the famous silver bath-tub, filled it with magnums of
champagne, and then got into it before the amazed company. A few hours
before his death he gave a farewell supper-party, made his friends very
drunk, and then, very quietly and without a struggle, expired before
they had time to get sober. Had Caderousse been properly brought up he
might have made a name for himself, but he frittered away his existence
and died, as he had lived, like a clever clown. He had the best opinion
of himself, or, when Paul Demidoff[78] once asked him to take the head
of the table at a dinner-party, he would not have replied: ‘The head of
the table is wherever De Grammont-Caderousse sits.’”[79]

It was only when the Second Empire began to dazzle the world--the new as
well as the old--that the foreign colony of Paris assumed importance.
During the previous quarter of a century the société étrangère consisted
mainly of rich bachelors, English and Russian, like the Marquis of
Hertford, Lord Seymour, Prince Mentschikoff, and Comte Rostopchine.
There were, however, a few distinguished ladies, the most notable being
the two Russians--the Princesse de Lieven,

[Illustration: MRS. RONALDS.

One of their Majesties’ guests at the Palace of the Tuileries.

     _A private photograph, lent for this work by Mrs. Ronalds._

_To face p. 52._]

who inspired Guizot, and Mme. Swetchine, the goddess of M. de Falloux.
In those pre-Bonapartist days the Parisians also welcomed several
Spanish families--the Aguados in particular--who soon became

With the advent of Napoleon III. and his consort came the first of the
foreign contingent--Spaniards, naturally, drawn to Paris by the Empress,
whose compatriots saw with real pleasure Mme. de Montijo’s peerless
daughter on the imperial throne and in the éclat of her marvellous
good-fortune. In the salons now began to be seen a number of these fair
foreigners--young women who, as De Morny gallantly said, “all had
beautiful eyes, even the ugliest of them.” Prominent among the most
beautiful were the Empress’s sister, the Duchesse d’Albe; the Duchesse
de Frias, the Duchesse de Rivas, and Mme. Alfonso de Aldama (whose
daughter married the Emperor’s equerry, the Comte de Castelbajac). The
Spanish division was later reinforced by Queen Isabella, who,
physically, was the greatest woman in Europe, but not enjoying a
monopoly of all the virtues; the Duchesse de la Torre and her two
daughters, the Marquise de Guadalmina, and Mme. De Arcos (Spanish only
by marriage--Irish by birth).

The young Spanish ladies left in Paris the happiest souvenirs. They were
gay, laughter-loving, and très honnêtes, despite--or perhaps on account
of--their Southern expansiveness. They got up parties and organized
“tertulias,” now with French gentlemen, and now with their compatriots
of the epoch--MM. Alvarez de Toledo, the Marquis de Guadalcazar,
Calderon, and jolly old Diego, the joy of Paris for more than thirty

The Italians rivalled the Spaniards by their beauty as well as by their
entrain. There were the Comtesse de Castiglione, Princesse Belgiojoso,
the Duchesse Riario-Storza, the Comtesse Marcello, the Duchesse de
Bojano, to name only a few of the best known.

There were many reasons why the advent of the Second Empire coincided
with the reign of the foreigner in Paris between 1853 and 1870. Firstly,
the Faubourg Saint-Germain would have no intercourse with the new
régime. The Empress, as we have seen, welcomed with open arms the
Spanish aristocrats. Thus the ladies from beyond the mountains found
themselves in the centre of the social whirlpool, and to this point
naturally gravitated other of the foreign invaders. It was this
attractive cosmopolitanism which inspired the amusing boutade of Meilhac
and Halévy in their (and Offenbach’s) “Vie Parisienne”: “You are a
foreigner--so am I. Then, as _compatriots_, let us,” etc.

Another reason--and the principal one--was the facility for getting
about by the multiplication of means of locomotion. If a new railway was
to be inaugurated the Emperor was always ready to preside at the
ceremony, and to make one of his telling speeches, abounding in happy
phrases, and glorifying French genius and French enterprise. It was
steam which acted as the great conductor of the foreigner to the Paris
of the Second Empire--steam which linked France with, first, North, and
then South, America. In 1852, when, until December, Louis Napoleon was
only Prince-President, Paris did not contain a dozen American residents.
The first American ladies seen in Paris salons when the new reign began
were Miss Ridgway and Miss Moulton. Then came Mrs. Post and her
daughters; Mrs. Moulton, whose daughter married Count Hatzfeldt; Mrs.
Ronalds and her sister, Miss Josephine Carter, both beautiful; Mrs.
Pilié, one of whose daughters became the Marquise de Chasseloup-Laubat;
Mrs. Carroll, who found in the Comte de Kergorlay a husband for one of
her daughters; Mrs. Davis, two of whose daughters married Frenchmen;
Mrs. Payne, whose daughter became Mme. Ferdinand Bischoffsheim; Miss
Beckwith; and Miss Polk, who married General Baron de Charette, the
redoubtable leader of the Papal Zouaves.[80]

While Princesse de Metternich had a monopoly of notoriety, there were
four ladies who enjoyed greater social triumphs than any others--a
charming quartet, who shed lustre on the imperial Court, and were immune
from the barbed shafts of the satirists, which is not to say that they
escaped the attentions of the gossip-mongers. They were Jeanne de
Tallyerand-Périgord, Princesse de Sagan; the Marquise de Galliffet,
Princesse de Martignes; Mélanie, Comtesse de Pourtalès; and the Marquise
de Canisy.[81] In the lives of each there is material for a chapter.
Mme. de Sagan was dubbed in her monde “Canaillette”; Mme. de Galliffet,
“Cochonette”; and Mme. de Pourtalès, “Chiffonette.” The Junoesque Mme.
de Canisy had no such enigmatical “fond-name.” These ladies figure in
the chronique as among what was known as the Prince of Wales’s coterie,
which included a few others who do not call for particular mention.

One of the most noted speculators of the epoch was Baron Seillière,
father of the Princesse de Sagan. Her husband was the eldest son and
heir of the Duc de Valençay; the great Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, was
of this family. If the Princess lacked beauty, she had exceptional
intellectual gifts, and was prized for the staunchness of her
friendships and her never-failing good nature. It was not her brilliant
mental equipment that attracted the Prince; she had a very large dowry,
or she might never have been presented by De Sagan with his hand, his
heart (or what remained of it), and his title. The De Sagans’ princely
abode, in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, had belonged to an Englishman--Mr.
Hope, the banker, whose London residence was converted into the Junior
Athenæum Club, from whose upper rooms the Crystal Palace is visible.

The Princesse de Sagan used to assemble her relations and friends round
her hospitable table every Sunday. Although she sprang from the wealthy
middle class, Madame la Princesse, by her marriage, was immediately
accorded a place in the forefront of the aristocracy, and she was one of
the most notable figures at the Court of the Tuileries. One would have
thought she had been born, if not in the actual purple, at all events
very near it. They said of her that her husband, grand seigneur as he
was to the finger-tips, developed her instincts, and that “she formed
herself in his school.”

The immense wealth which this fascinating woman brought her husband
enabled them to outshine the great majority of even the richest members
of the French aristocracy. Her magnificent toilettes were the envy of
all the women--the De Sagans’ horses and carriages excelled those of
everybody else. The purple liveries, braided in gold, were singled out
for special admiration by the crowd at Longchamp, where the Prince of
Wales was seen fairly often. I have heard that the stables were not
inferior to those of the Emperor. The luxe of the De Sagans’ residence
was amazing. Very few, if any, royal palaces could show anything equal
to it. There were said to be twelve hundred silver plates and dishes,
and everything else was on a similarly regal scale.

A striking feature of the De Sagans’ hotel was the principal staircase,
suggestive of the grand escalier at the Royal Palace at Madrid. The
marble steps, covered with rich Aubusson carpeting; the cushions on the
balustrades; the beautifully-decorated salons on the first floor; the
bibelots of every kind; the white-and-gold adornments of the apartments;
the galerie des glaces, scarcely less beautiful than the mirrored
corridors at Versailles; the immense dining-room in which a hundred
guests were often entertained; the rez-de-chaussée reserved for the use
of the family; the park-like garden stretching over an immense area of
the Faubourg Saint-Germain--how often did not our Prince see and admire
all these!

The Princess had been the spoilt child of her wealthy father, who
indulged her every caprice and humoured her every whim. Her jewels were
the world’s talk at the time I am speaking of--and after. During one of
her visits to London she made up her mind to appear at some great
gathering in all her diamonds, and a telegram to Paris brought over one
of the secretaries of her father (Baron Seillière) laden with the gems!
Needless to describe the sensation which these bewildering stones,
valued at many thousands of pounds, made in London.

Before very long the Prince and the Princess were living apart. Of the
Prince and Baron Hirsch[82] this story is told by a friend of mine who
was in the Bonapartist set during the reign.

The Prince de Sagan was offered by Baron Hirsch the liberal fee of
£40,000 to go to Constantinople and conduct a business “deal.” Needless
to say, the Prince closed with the tempting offer at once. The news soon
reached the ears of the Princess, for, as M. de Blowitz very wittily
said, “In Paris the fish talk--in Berlin the parrots are dumb.” Mme. de
Sagan was furious, and, bursting in upon her husband at his bachelor’s
“diggings” near the Petit Club (his favourite cercle), angrily
exclaimed: “Is what I have heard true, Boson?” “What, ma chère?”
innocently inquired the dandy. “That you are going to sell your
name--going to be the commission agent and tout of that Jew Hirsch for
some speculation of his in Turkey? Is it true?” “Hélas, ma chère, it is
only too true. As I have but little money, and can hardly make both ends
meet on what you allow me, I am forced to take advantage of any
opportunity which arises to add to my scanty store.” “Oh, you are going
to Turkey for the sake of the money which that Hirsch gives you?” “Of
course; why else should I take the trouble of going all the way to
Constantinople about this wretched railway business, dont je m’en fiche
comme de l’année quarante?” (Which I care no more for than for the year
forty.) “Well, then,” continued the Princess, now somewhat mollified,
“if you got the same amount as that which Hirsch offers you, you would
give up all idea of going?” “Ma foi, oui,” smiled the Prince. “Will you
promise?” asked “Canaillette,” suspiciously. “Yes, I will promise.” “How
much did Hirsch say he would give you?” “Oh, a bagatelle to you, but a
large sum to me--a million francs.” “Indeed! Well, I will send you a
cheque for the million this afternoon, on condition that you give up
this absurd, degrading trip to Turkey. Is it a bargain?” The Prince,
much amused at his wife’s earnestness, kissed her hand, thanked her, and
accepted the terms. That afternoon De Sagan received Madame’s promised
cheque, and the next morning saw him with one for a similar amount in
his pocket from Baron Hirsch on his way to Constantinople!

To Mme. de Sagan we owe this epigram: “A husband can only hope to be a
hero in his wife’s eyes for two months--the month before he is married,
and the month after his death.”

Frank Seillière, brother of the Princesse de Sagan, married Mlle. Diane
de Galliffet, of whose mother, the Marquise (the wife of the famous
General), a few words must now be said.

The Marquise de Galliffet was half English, her father, M. Lafitte, the
banker (“Major Fridolin,” of Turf celebrity), having married an English
lady. The blonde Marquise was truly beautiful--“as beautiful as the
Empress,” some enthusiasts vowed; “blonde comme les blès,” as my friend
“Sornette” wrote of her “in the days that were earlier.” “Her few
faults,” he asserted, “for all of which she was most bitterly punished,
proceeded from her tenderness of heart. The beautiful and dainty
Marquise could not find it in that sweet little cardiac arrangement
which I suppose she called her heart to say ‘No’ to anybody who did not
ask too audacious a favour, the result being that her generosity was

The Marquise was in great favour with the Empress, and the Emperor spoke
of her in the most rapturous, but perfectly respectful, terms. Her
nickname, “Cochonette,” to which she never objected, is said to have
been conferred upon her because she was supposed to pay less attention
to soap and water than she might have done. De Grammont-Caderousse
(according to “Sornette,” the all-knowing and ever-humorous) used to
tell this story of Mme. de Galliffet:

     Her husband,[83] having reason to believe that his wife did not
     care over-much for soap and water, played upon her a practical joke
     in order to satisfy himself whether his suspicions were or were not
     well founded. One night, after they had returned from a ball at the
     Tuileries, he went into his wife’s dressing room, and, lighting a
     cigarette, began to talk over the events at the Palace before
     retiring to his own rooms. He found Madame taking off her jewels
     and (like the Empress) throwing them about on the carpet, for her
     maids to pick up in the morning. After a brief talk, the Marquis
     kissed his wife’s hand and retired for the night. On the following
     morning he came in again, and asked the Marquise to let him take a
     ruby bracelet to Boucheron’s to be reset, as they had previously
     arranged he should do. The Marquise told one of her maids to bring
     the bracelet, but, after a long search in all the rooms, the jewel


The Author is indebted to the Comtesse for the loan of this beautiful

     _Le Jeune, L. Joliot Succr., Paris._

_To face p. 160._]

     was not to be found. “You must have been robbed,” said the Marquis;
     “but never mind--I must get you another like it.”

     A week or so later he again entered his wife’s room in the morning,
     and nonchalantly inquired if the ruby bracelet had been found.
     “No,” replied the Marquise innocently, “of course not, or I should
     have told you.” “Oh, ‘Cochonette,’” laughingly exclaimed the hero
     of Puebla; then, taking her by the hand, he led her to the
     washing-stand, which closed with a lid to keep out the dust.
     Lifting the cover, he showed his bewildered spouse the bracelet
     lying in the basin, where he had put it on the night he had gone
     into her bedroom after the Tuileries ball! A week without a visit
     to the hand-basin was (said Caderousse) proved against the Marquise
     by this trick; for, had she lifted the cover, she would have found
     her missing bracelet.

The imperial couple would have readily admitted, had they been asked,
that they had no better friend, and that France did not possess a more
patriotic soul, than the Comtesse de Pourtalès (who was born Mélanie de
Bussière), who was always most warmly welcomed by the Emperor and
Empress at the Tuileries entertainments, at the chasses and theatricals
at Compiègne, and wherever else their Majesties happened to be. In that
beautiful house in the Rue Tronchet, a museum and gallery of art
combined, were to be found many English who were in Paris in obedience
to the imperial invitation, the Prince of Wales not seldom being among
them. It was Mme. de Pourtalès who, upon her return to Paris from a
visit to Berlin, warned the Emperor and Empress of the high state of
efficiency of the German forces. But she only had her trouble for her
pains. The self-satisfied Generals made light of her forebodings of
evil. Only Colonel Stöffel listened to her sympathetically, for he,
better than anybody, knew how right she was. Who does not remember the
portrait of Mme. de Pourtalès, garbed à l’Alsacienne, which, when France
was humbled to the dust, evoked emotion all over the world? Who can
forget the practical help which she hastened to extend to the Empress
after her flight from the Tuileries?

At the amateur theatricals at Compiègne none of the ladies outshone the
Comtesse de Pourtalès. In the Marquis de Massa’s Revue de l’année 1867
she represented the River Seine, magnificently dressed, of course. A
phrase, sublime in its audacity, was put into her mouth, and was
delivered with such charming naïveté that the little theatre resounded
with peals of laughter. Prudhomme (Baron Lambert) exclaimed rapturously,
“Mais, quel superbe costume vous avez, belle dame!” a compliment to
which Mme. de Pourtalès had to reply, “Oh, j’en ai un beaucoup plus beau
_par-dessous_!” (I have a much more beautiful one _underneath_.)

In the last years of the reign there figured at the Court of the
Tuileries (and equally in the Royalist salons of the Faubourg
Saint-Germain), among the pléiade of dazzling forms, the Baronne
Alphonse de Rothschild.[84] The hôtel of the Baron and Baroness Alphonse
in the Rue St. Florentin, which had been acquired from the heirs of the
Prince de Talleyrand, was not only the rendezvous of the brilliant
society of the Second Empire and of the intransigeante aristocracy of
the ancien régime, but frequently opened its doors to foreign Princes,
who, with lesser mortals, were also entertained at the magnificent
château of Ferrières (a landmark in 1870-71) and at the fairy-like home
at Cannes. Like the other (Continental) Rothschilds, the Baron and
Baroness Alphonse liked to be surrounded by the artistic element. In
their Paris hôtel were to be seen the leading lights of literature,
science, and art. Of course, the Baron and Baroness were what is called
“keen” on every kind of sport, otherwise they would not have been
Rothschilds. Alexandre Dumas fils, calling on the Baroness Alphonse one
Monday afternoon, was met with the inquiry: “Well, Monsieur Dumas, were
you at the races yesterday?” “At the races, Madame la Baronne! Oh no; I
never go to them.” “Never go to the races!” exclaimed the Baroness,
surprised, if not horrified, at such an avowal; “then what on earth do
you do with yourself on Sundays?”[85]

Mme. de Courtval was well known to the Court coterie, as any intimate
friend of the Princesse de Sagan was bound to be. After dinner one
night, at her villa at Deauville, she and her guests sat down at the
whist-table. Presently there was a loud knocking and ringing at the door
of the villa, and, to the dismay of the servants, a much-whiskered and
moustached gentleman forced his way into the salon. Questioned as to his
right to intrude upon the privacy of Mme. de Courtval and her
guests--the Prince of Wales included--the stranger, in very aggressive
tones, replied, “I have the honour to be the Mayor of Deauville!” and,
unbuttoning his overcoat, he displayed to the stupefied party his scarf
of office. He apologized for having to discharge a painful duty, and
proceeded to say that the fair hostess, by permitting card-playing, had
converted her villa into a tripot, or gaming-house, and had brought
herself within the meshes of the law. The farce continued for some
little time, to the great amusement of “the Prince” and Mme. de Sagan,
who were the only members of the party in the secret. Then the whiskers
of “M. le Maire” fell off, and revealed the features of a gentleman who
was well known to the hostess and her friends. To complete the story, it
must be added that the joke which had so perturbed Mme. de Courtval and
most of her guests was due to the ingenuity of the Princesse de Sagan
and--the Prince of Wales!

I pass from the recital of these frivolities to the Tragic Year. We
shall see precisely how the Empress fulfilled the duties of the Regency,
and hear the conversations of the Sovereigns.



_To the Comtesse de Montijo, Madrid._

ST. CLOUD, _July 28, 1870_.

     The Emperor and Louis have left. I am full of confidence as to the
     final issue. Everybody well.


_The Prince Imperial to his Mother._

METZ, _Same date_.

     We have had a magnificent reception at Metz, and all along the
     railway, Papa and I. We are quite well. Your affectionate and
     respectful son,


_The Empress to the Prince Imperial._

ST. CLOUD, _Same date_.

     I hope thou art not over-fatigued, and that the emotions of the day
     will not make thee unwell. I am always thinking of thee. I am happy
     and proud to see thee sharing the fatigues and dangers of our brave


_The Prince to his Mother._

METZ, _Same date_.

     Everything goes well. I am not tired. I have just been to see the
     camps. All the soldiers are delighted. I embrace you with all my
     heart. Your affectionate and respectful son,


On July 29 the Empress writes a long letter to the Emperor concerning
the negotiations between France, Austria, and Italy. These appear to her
to be proceeding favourably, having regard to a telegram received from
Count Beust (Vienna), an analysis of which the Empress encloses in her
letter; and to another telegram from the Marquis Visconti Venosta (from
Turin), stating that the Roman Question[86] is about to be settled. The
Empress, in her letter to her consort, congratulates herself upon having
opposed the demands of the Emperor of Austria and his Minister (Beust),
whose advice was that France should leave the Pope to his fate. The
Emperor received this news very calmly, and on the following day replied
by telegraph as under:

_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _July 30, 7.35 a.m._

     Louis is very well. He slept sixteen hours straight off. I have
     received thy letter of the 29th and the copy of the other [letter].
     The intention is good, but I want to see deeds. We embrace thee

_4 p.m._

     I am very well, but fatigued by the heat. We embrace thee tenderly.


On the 31st Captain Guzman, one of the Emperor’s orderly officers, takes
to Metz news from the Empress. His sterling character has gained him Her
Majesty’s confidence, and she tells him to inform the Emperor that she
wishes to visit Metz! Without an instant’s delay the following telegram
is despatched:

_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _July 31_.

     Despite my wish to see thee again, I think it will be best for you
     not to come. Besides, we shall possibly be leaving here to-morrow.
     We have just come from Mass. The Bishop was very agreeable. We
     embrace thee tenderly.


On July 31 and August 1 the Emperor contemplates an attack upon
Saarlouis, but changes his mind, and all the plans which had been in the
air end with the little affair at Saarbrücken[87] on August 2, which the
Emperor describes to his wife by telegraph as soon as he returns to

_The Emperor to the Empress, St. Cloud._

METZ, _August 2, 3.55 p.m._

     Louis has had his baptism of fire. His sang-froid was admirable. He
     was in no wise disconcerted, and seemed as if he were walking in
     the Bois de Boulogne. One of General Frossard’s divisions captured
     the heights dominating the left bank of Saarbrücken. The Prussians
     made a feeble resistance. There was only rifle-fire and a
     cannonade. We were in the front line. But balls [shells] and
     bullets fell at our feet. Louis has a ball [bullet] which fell
     close to him. There were soldiers who wept at seeing him so cool.
     We embrace thee tenderly. I know the sort of language to use to


This last phrase (says M. Germain Bapst) was important; it showed that
the Empress, knowing that Count Vimercati was at Metz with a treaty,
approved by the Emperor of Austria and the King of Italy, which Napoleon
III. was to be asked to sign, had insisted that her consort should
ignore it.

When the telegram reporting the engagement at Saarbrücken reached the
Empress at St. Cloud she was walking in the park. Someone took the
despatch to her. She read and re-read it aloud, very happy, and proud of
her son. She hastened to the voltigeurs who were on guard and read it to
them--then sent it, marked “private,” to M. Émile Ollivier, President of
the Council [since January 2]. M. Ollivier perhaps forgot that the
despatch was marked “private”; at all events, he showed it to a
“Gaulois” reporter, and it appeared in large print in that paper the
next day. The Empress, upon seeing it, declared that its appearance in
the journal was the result of an “indiscretion.” Unfortunately, the
telegram was not read by the public in the right light, and the little
Prince was made the subject of ridicule.

Leaving the voltigeurs, the Empress went to her little study and wrote
these telegrams:

_The Empress to the Emperor._

_August 2, 6.32 p.m._

     I am very happy at the news you give me. It compensates me for my
     disquietude during so many days. You tell me nothing about
     yourself; but you well know how I have you both in my thoughts. Are
     you fatigued? I embrace you with all my heart.

_The Empress to her Son._

_Same date, 6.33 p.m._

     I know thou hast conducted thyself well. I am proud and very happy.
     Thy telegram has greatly pleased me. Thy cousins [Mlles. d’Albe,
     the Empress’s nieces] congratulate thee, as does everybody. I
     embrace thee with my whole soul.


The day following the famous “baptism” was quiet. On the next day (the
4th) Marshal Canrobert’s wife dined at St. Cloud, and she was still
there when the Empress received the two telegrams, announcing the defeat
at Weissemburg, sent by Marshal MacMahon to the Emperor, who transmitted
them to the Empress without any alteration.

_Marshal MacMahon to the Emperor._

     1. Douay’s division attacked by two divisions. Douay seriously
     wounded--obliged to retreat fighting--rallied near the Pigeonnier.

     2. Three regiments of Douay’s division--the General killed [this
     was in cipher]--enemy’s forces considerable, at least two army
     corps [_i.e._, 60,000 men]--one gun taken--position at rear of
     Froschweiler--I shall attack if necessary--to resume the offensive
     at least three more divisions are necessary.

_The Empress to Marshal Lebœuf, Metz._

     As soon as you get news from MacMahon--no matter at what time of
     night--have it ciphered by Pietri[89] and send it to me. I do not
     want to awaken the Emperor; that is why I telegraph direct.


Half an hour after midnight Marshal Lebœuf telegraphed to the Empress to
say he had no news.

MacMahon’s dread telegrams were withheld from the public for more than
twenty-four hours. They appeared in the papers on the 5th, after 3 p.m.
This unexpected news produced great irritation in Paris. But the
people’s exaltation of spirit increased and their chauvinism was
unbounded. The Parisians comforted themselves by saying: “It required
100,000 Prussians to defeat 8,000 French, and our troops were not beaten
until they had inflicted greater losses on the enemy than the total
number of French engaged.” The boulevards rang with a hundred other
similar stupidities on the 5th. “However, MacMahon will take his revenge

But the bad news seriously perturbed Ministers. “If,” they said, “the
Crown Prince enters Alsace with 100,000 men he will attack MacMahon, who
has only 35,000. That is grave indeed.” The night wore on without any
further news. At midday some idiot or other, or perhaps a speculator
“for the rise”--nobody ever knew which--stuck up at the Bourse this
telegram: “Great victory: 25,000 prisoners, including the Crown Prince.”
The Bourse became a Bedlam; the crowds on the boulevard yelled and
danced and sang and wept. The “Marseillaise” was roared by men and
shrieked by women and children. The grocers’ shops were cleared out of
Venetian lamps, for use in the evening. Flags passed from hand to hand;
houses were decked with them; and still the crowds, maddened with joy,
sang themselves hoarse, and still they danced and wept. Traffic was
stopped, carriages and cabs blocked the way, people climbed into them,
stood on seats, and kissed each other.

A brief hour, and it was known that no news had been received from the
frontier. The Bourse “telegram” was a huge “joke,” a diabolical “sell.”
Then the mob, split into sections, roared, “Down with the Ministry!” and
sang “Des nouvelles, des nouvelles!” to the air of the “Lampions.” And
M. Chevandier de Valdrôme (Minister of the Interior) hastened to St.
Cloud and reported to the Empress the day’s events.

Her Majesty maintained her composure, although for hours her nerves had
been unstrung by suspense. At her suggestion Ministers met at six
o’clock, and discussed the expediency of sending M. Maurice Richard to
the Emperor with an urgent request to His Majesty to arrange for a
constant supply of information. During the discussion a telegram from
the Emperor announced that Frossard’s army corps was engaged--with what
result was unknown.

Meanwhile there were wild “demonstrations” in front of some of the
Ministries. All night the crowds remained on the boulevards. At midnight
a thunderbolt fell. The Government received a copy of a telegram from
the Empress announcing the double defeat at Forbach and Froschweiler. In
forwarding this despatch the Empress ordered a meeting of Ministers, and
announced that she was returning from St. Cloud to the Tuileries.

All this Saturday (August 6) the Empress was in a highly nervous
condition. She could not be still, but walked in the park a few yards,
then returned to her little room and wrote these telegrams:

_The Empress to the Prince Imperial._

     All at St. Cloud think of you. The hours are very long, but the
     idea of a better time supports our strength and our hopes.


_The Empress to the Emperor._

     The impression produced in Paris has increased patriotic feeling
     without shaking confidence. I have already received a reply
     respecting General Douay’s widow. I expect to write to her by post.


_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _August 6, 3 p.m._

     I have no news of MacMahon. This morning the reconnoitring parties
     on one side of the Sarre did not observe any movement by the enemy.
     I now hear that there has been an engagement near General
     Frossard’s position. It is too distant for us to go there. As soon
     as I have any news I will send it to thee.


_The Empress to the Emperor._

ST. CLOUD, _Same date_.

     We await your news with feverish impatience. All seems quiet for
     the moment. The Council will reassemble this evening. Do not worry
     yourself; I am sure Paris will not give us any trouble. Courage,
     dear friend! Everyone must do his duty where circumstances have
     placed him. I am calm and confident. Be the same yourself.


_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _Same date_.

     The result of General Frossard’s engagement is still uncertain. I
     have good hopes.


Although over-excited by her emotions, the Empress displayed splendid
energy all through this terrible crisis, which was to last a full
month--until September 4.[90] She had not a moment’s weakness; never
abandoned her dignity. She set an example of constancy, dignity, and
courage, while around her were many instances of weakness.

On the evening of August 6 the Duc and Duchesse de Montmorency and
Prince de Metternich dined at St. Cloud with the Empress. After dinner
the two former spent the remainder of the evening at Bougival, with the
Princesse de Metternich, who had just been delivered of a girl. When the
Prince got home he said to his wife and her guests: “The Empress is much
exhausted. No news has reached her this evening. She is resting on her
bed. I hope she will have a quiet night.”

At midnight there is a dramatic scene at St. Cloud. Admiral Jurien de la
Gravière, M. Brissac, and Prince Poniatowski are sitting up awaiting
news. At twelve o’clock they are called to decode a cipher telegram from
the Emperor. They read: “General Frossard in retreat.” The Admiral goes
to the Empress in her room to report this event. He finds her lying on
the bed, fully dressed in a purple robe; she springs up from the bed,
and goes to the salon, where Brissac reads the fateful words: “Marshal
MacMahon has been beaten. Army in retreat [or “routed”]. Must expect the
gravest events. We must retain our composure. Paris must be armed and a
state of siege declared. All can be repaired. I have no news of

Even this violent shock in the middle of the night does not overwhelm
the Empress. “They must all have lost their heads!” is her only comment.
She orders a copy of the Emperor’s telegram to be sent to the Minister
of the Interior, tells him to call a meeting of the Council, and says
she is returning to the Tuileries immediately. She telegraphs to the
Emperor asking him to send further details, as she cannot understand the
last six words.

_The Empress to Princesse Mathilde._

ST. CLOUD, _12.35 midnight_.

     I have bad news from the Emperor. The army is in retreat. I am
     returning to Paris, where I have called a meeting of Ministers.


The Empress sends Prince Poniatowski to Bougival for the Prince de
Metternich, whom she wishes to accompany her to Paris, as it is “the
dead of night.” At the Metternichs’ house (Villa Staub) a white form
appears at an open window, and demands excitedly, “What do you want?”
The Prince dresses quickly, and the two men dash off to St. Cloud. Upon
learning from Poniatowski what has happened, the Austrian Ambassador
abruptly says, “This is all the worse, because now an alliance is

At the château a landau was ready, drawn by two Russian horses, black,
with long manes and long tails. The Empress, in travelling dress, was
waiting for Metternich. Admiral Jurien de la Gravière, Cossé-Brissac,
and Poniatowski got into another carriage, and the party started for
Paris at top speed. During this midnight drive not a soul was
visible--not even a solitary drunkard.

When the Empress’s carriage crossed the Avenue Marigny it stopped;
Metternich alighted and walked to his Embassy, which he rented from Her
Majesty, who owned the house.[91] Ten minutes later the Empress reached
the Tuileries; General d’Autemarre and his aide-de-camp awaited her.
There was an air of desolation throughout the Palace. The rooms through
which the Empress passed were empty. The curtains had been taken from
the windows. The furniture was covered by striped stuff. The chairs were
ranged in rows close to the walls. The pictures, busts, garnitures of
the fireplaces--all were swathed in cloths.

Ministers trooped in immediately, followed by Marshal Baraguay
d’Hilliers, commanding the army of Paris; Trochu, General
Chabaud-Latour, and a few others, summoned from their beds by the
Empress’s orders. The capital must be put in an immediate state of
defence. The Emperor had said it, the Empress had said it, and now the
Government said it. There was still an Ollivier Ministry; but its days
were numbered.

It must have been verging on four o’clock, the daylight was streaming
into the Palace, when another cipher telegram was brought to the
Empress. In it the Emperor answered his wife’s request for an
explanation of the concluding words of the previous despatch--the last
she was to receive at St. Cloud. From the new message all learnt that no
telegram direct from Marshal MacMahon (announcing his defeat) had been
received at Metz; that news had come, according to the Emperor, from
“General de Laigle.” What was meant was “Colonel Klein de Kleinenburg.”
But it did not occur to anyone at the Tuileries that there was no such
person as “General de Laigle,” and the message, blunder included, was
sent off to the _Journal Officiel_, which published it at eleven
o’clock, to the mystification of all Paris!

In this despatch the Emperor said he was about to leave Metz and proceed
to St. Avold, if, with the 3rd and 4th Corps (the Guard), he could
assume “a vigorous offensive” with some success over the Prussians, who
had suffered severely in the battle at Forbach (situated at a short
distance from the high ground overlooking Saarbrücken which, only four
days and a few hours before, had been the



     She represented “America” at the famous fancy ball given by the
     Marquis and Marquise de Chasseloup-Laubat at the Ministère de la
     Marine, February 12, 1866.

     _A private photograph, lent for this work by Mrs. Ronalds._

_To face p. 176._]

scene of the Prince’s “baptism” and of the first “victory” of the

This early-morning Council at the Tuileries was opened by the Empress,
whose freshness and vigour amazed everybody. A diversion was caused by
General Trochu, who asked all round, “Have you read my book? I foresaw
all that has happened!” Trochu’s inane query at such a moment was met
with looks of contempt and disgust. Ministers were now convinced that
the defeats of the first week of the war meant the fall of the Empire
and, with the awakening of Paris to the facts, their own overthrow.

Telegrams from the Emperor to the Empress flowed in, revealing the
disorder prevailing at Metz. “Nothing is decided upon, it seems,” said a
Minister; “they are floundering about!”

Well, the country must be told of the disasters. But how? In this
manner: With the help of a despatch from the Emperor and another from
Marshal Lebœuf, the Ministers composed, and all signed, a pretended
telegram, preceding it with a statement that they were concealing
nothing, and dating the document “6 a.m., August 7.”

The Ministers were talking in low tones, as if at a funeral, when a huge
form appeared in the doorway--that of Haussmann, the maker of the new
Paris. He had returned from a journey; walking along the Rue de Rivoli,
he had noticed an unwonted movement in the Palace, had inquired, and had
hastened to offer his services to the Empress. Her Majesty asked him to
give his opinion, and he did so, clearly and emphatically. “A state of
siege must be proclaimed immediately. If there were not sufficient
troops in Paris, those still in Algeria and the regiments of marine
infantry at the ports must be sent for.” But at 1.30 that morning
Admiral Rigault had ordered the marines to be in Paris within
forty-eight hours. A proclamation announcing these measures must be
issued immediately. Haussmann, asked by the Empress to draw it up, sat
down at a corner of the table and penned the document currente calamo.

Before the Council dispersed, at 6 a.m., orders had been sent recalling
to Paris all available land and sea forces. France had still men with
heads on their shoulders, and an indomitable Empress-Regent. General
Chabaud-Latour went straight from the Tuileries to the Rue St. Dominique
(the bureau of the comité du génie), and told of the impression made
upon him by the “admirable and simple” courage of the Empress, who had
said, “Ne vous occupez pas de l’Empereur et de mon fils, mais uniquement
du pays.”

At 8 am. the Ministers were again at the Tuileries. During their short
absence the blackest news had arrived. There was a general retreat on
Châlons! The Empress read the telegrams without a break in her voice or
a quiver of the lip.

Certain members of the Government wanted to make General Trochu Minister
of War, vice General Dejean. A Minister proposed to the Empress the
desirability of this change, on the ground that Trochu was an “orator”
and very popular, while Dejean was a slowcoach. Getting wind of this
intrigue, Dejean went to the Empress, who asked him to retain his post.
M. Ollivier, who had approved of the Emperor’s plan to retreat from Metz
and concentrate the army at Châlons, now changed his mind and
telegraphed to the Emperor to say that the Government did not like the
idea, and to request permission to replace Dejean by Trochu.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 7_.

     In your military operations do not consider the opinion of Paris.
     The important thing is not to act quickly, but properly. In three
     days we shall have here 29,000 good troops, besides the four
     regiments from Africa. With the National Guard it will be easy to
     increase this force to 40,000. We can easily defend ourselves
     should an army [the enemy] hold the country. The audacity which
     they are showing will be fatal to them, if we do not take our
     revenge too quickly.


The Empress rushed away from a Cabinet meeting to dictate some telegrams
to the Emperor and to write others herself. She was still the moving
spirit--restless, never giving way to fatigue, indefatigable. All her
combative spirit, inherited from an illustrious ancestry, manifested
itself. She was in her element. Her consort was reigning, but she was
governing, and those around her--not all friends--could not withhold
their admiration. Ministers thought the young Prince should be brought
back to Paris. They were perturbed by the Emperor’s bad health, and
asked themselves if he was in a fit state to hold the supreme command of
the army.

_M. Ollivier to the Emperor._

     The Council of Ministers and the Privy Council are unanimously of
     opinion that the Prince Imperial should return to Paris.


The Empress added the words: “I do not think it my duty to oppose this.”
Then she sent the following telegram, in her special cipher:

_The Empress to the Emperor._

     For reasons which I cannot explain in this despatch I desire that
     Louis should remain with the army, and that the Emperor should
     promise that he [the Prince] should be sent back, but should keep
     him with the army....


The Government knew nothing of this subterfuge. The Empress’s next step
was to summon from Cherbourg Charles Duperré (then commanding the
frigate _Taureau_), in whom she had full confidence. He was to go to
Metz and tell the Emperor what she could not telegraph to him.

Trochu bluntly told Ollivier he would not accept the headship of the War

Hearing from the Emperor that the enemy was at no point pursuing the
French, and that Frossard’s army corps was concentrated at Puttelange,
the Empress telegraphed:

_The Empress to the Emperor._

_August 6._

     I have received your despatch, and am quite satisfied with it. It
     is evident to me that we shall have a success, if we do not press

_The Empress’s Second Telegram to her Consort._

_Same date._

     Opinion in Paris increases against Marshal Lebœuf and General
     Frossard. They are accused of having brought about the defeats.
     Speak to Marshal Bazaine respecting future operations.

The Empress had not previously mentioned Bazaine’s name. The Emperor
telegraphed to her that at the moment only “very vague details” about
the fighting had reached Metz. “It was said that there had been several
cavalry charges.” Such was the state of the French “intelligence”
department--if it ever had more than a shadowy existence.

Paris was naturally indignant. “The Ministers ought to be arrested! They
are to blame for all that has happened.”

“Those who remember those days,” says M. Germain Bapst, “can recall the
terrible anguish which tortured all hearts.” And, with admirable
fairness to the Empress and the Emperor, he adds these significant

     Overwhelmed, deceived in our blind confidence--_for all, it must be
     said, had wished for the war_, believing in the invincibility of
     our army--we cursed the Ministers. Since Sadowa all the Deputies,
     the spokesmen of the country, had opposed those armaments which
     were declared by the Emperor, Marshal Niel, and M. Thiers to be
     indispensable. Those who became Ministers six months ago [the
     Ollivier Cabinet] reduced the contingent and declared loudly for
     disarmament. Now they are reproached for our defeats, and it is
     impossible for them to govern owing to their unpopularity. One sole
     authority remained in Paris--that of Marshal Baraguay d’Hilliers.

_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _August 7, 8.30 a.m._

     To support us here it is necessary for Paris and France to make
     great patriotic efforts. Here we do not lose sang-froid or
     confidence, but we are sorely tried. After the Battle of
     Reichshoffen MacMahon retired, covering the road to Nancy.
     Frossard’s corps has been determinedly attacked. Energetic measures
     are being taken to defend that corps. The Major-General is with the

While, that afternoon (August 7), the Empress was presiding at the
Council, the Opposition Deputies demanded the immediate convocation of
the Chambers. Jules Favre was at their head.

One of the best-informed Ambassadors perceived what was coming--what, in
fact, did come less than a month later. He telegraphed to his Government
these inspired words:

     The Republican party is agitating. Should there be another check,
     the worst is to be feared--déchéance of the Emperor, proclamation
     of the Republic, and the rest.

The Emperor, on August 8, ordered the junction of the Lorraine army
corps at Metz and the creation of a new army in Paris.

_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _August 8_.

     The retreat upon Châlons is dangerous. I can be more useful by
     remaining at Metz, with 100,000 well-organized men. Canrobert must
     return to Paris and be the kernel of a new army. Then there will
     be two great centres--Paris and Metz. Such is our opinion. Let the
     Council know. There is no news.


The Empress replied by trying to persuade the Emperor that Paris was
quiet, and that there was “no fear of a revolution.” She was preoccupied
with the hope of concentrating, to face the enemy, the largest possible
number of troops.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 9_.

     Do not worry about Paris; I will answer for it. We are also trying
     to form an army here. Do not get rid of Canrobert. You have not too
     large a force. We have called upon Palikao to form an army here.
     Opinion points to him.

On August 7 and 8 M. Maurice Richard saw the Emperor at Metz. His
Majesty was much cast down, absorbed in studying a map, and made no
answer when spoken to. Sighing, and pressing his hand upon his left
side, he said every now and then, “What a misfortune!” But no words of
recrimination escaped him. His bent figure and slow movements gave M.
Richard the impression of a man who was at his last gasp--whose illness
made him unfit to command. General Lebrun, M. Davilliers, and M.
Franceschini Pietri advised the Emperor to return to Paris and hand over
the command to Marshal Bazaine. The Government shared that opinion. The
Empress also advised the transfer of the command to Bazaine. Pietri
telegraphed to her proposing the Emperor’s return to Paris. Her
Majesty’s reply was telegraphed direct to the Emperor, and ran: “Have
you thought of all the consequences of your return to Paris after two

Faced by this pregnant question, the suffering Emperor gave way, as
always, for he dreaded above all his wife’s anger. One week of warfare
had brought Napoleon III. to this piteous state. Bowed down by bodily
pain, tortured by defeat following defeat, unable to “see daylight” in
any direction, forbidden from returning to Paris, motiveless, powerless,
the nominal head of disorganized forces, perhaps (fatalist that he was)
even foreseeing what would happen three weeks hence--how vividly these
despatches bring before us the picture of Hugo’s “Napoleon the Little”!

By comparison with her stricken, nerveless--shall we say deluded and
betrayed?--husband, the Wife’s figure becomes almost colossal. Her
hopefulness, her tenacity, her inflexible will had their effect upon
some at least of those with whom she was in feverish consultation day
and night. From the Emperor, even at this early stage, there was nothing
to hope for. What could he have done in Paris, save precipitate the
Revolution, which was already in gestation?

The man to whom the Empress turned for advice was the chief of the
Bonapartist Parliamentary party--Jérôme David. “In 1867,” says M. Bapst,
“during the debates on the Press laws and the right of public meeting,
acting by the Empress’s request, he had endeavoured to procure the
withdrawal of the projected laws, which had originated with the Emperor
himself. David’s appeal for assistance in his task prompted a member of
the Senate to reply, with not unkindly humour, that it seemed to him to
be a question of a little Ministerial intrigue springing into existence
from under the folds of a petticoat!”

After a meeting of Ministers, a deputation from the Chamber had an
audience of the Empress, and asked her to sanction the immediate
dismissal of Ollivier and his Ministers. To this mild request she
answered that it was a question for the Chamber, not for her, to decide.
“It would be regrettable to cause a Ministerial crisis at a moment of
such gravity.”

One of the deputation, M. Durangel, remained after his colleagues had
withdrawn. The Empress took him aside, and, bursting into tears, said:
“What do you think of the Emperor’s proposed return to Paris?” Then,
without giving him time to answer, she exclaimed, “It is impossible! A
Napoleon cannot return to Paris unless he is victorious.” The Empress
kept him in conversation until half-past one in the morning! She was now
taking large doses of chloral every night, but the drug did not bring
her any but the most fitful sleep.

By August 8 Captain Duperré had arrived from Cherbourg. The Empress told
him he must go to Metz (as he did) and prevent the Emperor, and even the
Prince, from returning to Paris. “I would rather see my son killed by
the enemy than become another Louis XVII.!” she exclaimed, and seemed to
gain some consolation by repeating it. It was reported that the _Times_
had made the Empress say, “If the Prince returns to Paris, I will
immediately take him back to the army.” To force her hand, the
Government published an announcement that the Prince had returned to

Some troops had been ordered to station themselves in the courtyard of
the Carrousel. The Empress suggested to Marshal Baraguay d’Hilliers
(commanding the forces in Paris) that they should be supplied with
rations from the Tuileries kitchens. “No,” said the old warrior; “people
would say that it was the repast of the gardes du corps”--the allusion
(says M. Bapst) being to the banquet in the Orangerie in 1789, when the
appearance of Marie Antoinette had aroused the troops to enthusiasm, and
caused them to reject the tricoloured cocardes. Previously the Empress
had told the Marshal to prevent the mob from invading the Palais
Bourbon, should an attempt be made to “rush” it. “Rioters! brawlers!” he
exclaimed; “I would sweep them all out, and if it was necessary to fire
upon them I would do so!” Her Majesty cut him short with the question,
“But not without orders, would you?” This was too much for the fiery
Marshal, and he retorted that he “did not wish to retain his command.”
He remained intractable. Princesse Mathilde, who had been asked by the
Empress to see if she could make him change his mind, told him he was a
coward to desert his post, and there was nothing for it but to replace
him by conferring the Paris command upon General Soumain. By August 9
Ministers had lost their authority, and at the opening of the Chambers
they were overthrown.

On the morning of August 9, at the Tuileries, General Palikao was
announced. The Empress was at a Council, and upon Palikao entering the
room, she rose, shook hands with the old soldier, who had done good
service in China, and appeared to be overjoyed at the arrival of “a
Messiah, whose coming had been anxiously awaited.” The Empress poured
forth her soul; it was difficult for anyone else to edge in a word, so
excited was the Regent--anxious, perhaps, to let the warrior see how
well acquainted she was with what was happening in Lorraine. So steeped
was she in military lore that, hearing her expound theories and ideas,
even experts might have been betrayed into accepting her speculations as
facts. Would Palikao take command of the Paris forces? Or would he
prefer to replace Marshal Lebœuf as Major-General of the army of the
Rhine at Metz? He could have either post. Seeing how the land lay,
Palikao asked abruptly, “Will you make me a Marshal?” The Empress hinted
at something of the kind; but Palikao “opted” for the army of the Rhine,
and everybody was satisfied. The Regent, bubbling over with delight,
could not keep the good news from “Louis” for a moment.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 9, 1.13 p.m._

     General Palikao accepts, and leaves immediately for Metz. The
     Marshal [Lebœuf] must resign before he [Palikao] arrives. This
     step, I believe, will quiet the Chamber. Everything going well
     here. Order will not be disturbed. The Council and I do not agree
     with the view brought by M. Maurice Richard from Metz [that the
     Emperor should return to Paris and form a new army]. I embrace you
     tenderly, and also Louis. My affection [for you both] increases
     with events.

A cold douche soon arrived at the Tuileries. The proposed sending of
Palikao to Metz surprised the Emperor.

_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _August 9_.

     I do not at all understand [the meaning of] sending Palikao to
     Metz. It cannot change the situation in any way. I thought it was
     the resignation of the Minister of War which was wanted. The other
     [that of Major-General] is impossible. As regards the army, nothing
     must be done without consulting me. Changarnier has come here to
     place himself at my disposal.


All the clever combinations of the poor Regent were thus upset.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 9_.

     The situation would become graver than you can imagine if Palikao
     were not Minister of War. Marshal Lebœuf is held responsible for
     giving orders and counter-orders which are known in Paris. They
     tell me that the Chamber desires he should be replaced. I am in a
     Ministerial crisis. Do not disturb yourself. To satisfy public
     opinion it is urgent that at the opening of the Chamber Marshal
     Lebœuf’s supersession should be announced.


_The Empress to Marshal Lebœuf._

PARIS, _August 9, 2 p.m._

     In the name of your former devotion, give in your resignation as
     Major-General. I beg you to do so. I know how much it will cost
     you, but in the actual circumstances we are all obliged to make
     sacrifices. Believe that it is as hard for me to take this step as
     for you.


The Regent does not let much, or many, stand in her way when beset by
difficulties. She causes a communiqué to be sent to the _Journal
Officiel_ (in which it appeared next day) to the effect that Marshal
Lebœuf and General Lebrun had resigned! This was untrue. But “À la
guerre comme à la guerre.” This reflection may have quieted her moral
sense, at some times not as strong as at others.

While all this frantic telegraphing to and from Metz was going on,
events in Paris were taking an ugly shape. While the Empress was
scribbling, or dictating, her despatches, the mob took possession of the
Place de la Concorde and the approaches to the Palais Bourbon (the seat
of the Chamber). But, bitterly disappointed with his treatment as he had
reason to be, Baraguay d’Hilliers was still military commandant at
Paris. He put his foot down with a “thus far shall you go, but no
farther.” The mob was cowed, and did not rush into the Chamber, but
contented itself with yelling in chorus (the troops joining): “À la
frontière! À la frontière!” These fervent patriots did not, however,
make any move towards “the frontier”; they were not “out” for that. They
heard with satisfaction that the Deputies belonging to the Left had
demanded that an Executive Commission should be substituted for the
Ollivier Government.

     When one sees the stupidity, the powerlessness, and the disgusting
     attitude of Parliaments at times of crisis, one cannot refrain
     from admiring the old republicans of Rome, who established the
     Dictatorship to save the Republic when it was in danger.--BAPST.

The Empress now set about the formation of a new Ministry, with Jérôme
David at its head and Palikao as War Minister. Schneider objected, and
tried to persuade the Regent to include in the Ministry some Deputies of
the Left. Her Majesty ordered Palikao to form a Government, and preside
over it as well as over the War Office. Jérôme David was again ruled out
of any post, Schneider (of the Creusot factories) hinting that David was
too much “the Empress’s man.” All night Palikao was hunting about for a
Minister of the Interior--anyone but David.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 9, 6 p.m._

     What I feared has happened--a change of Ministry. Palikao is at its
     head; this is agreeable to all. The announcement of Marshal
     Bazaine’s new position has produced the best effect. Your prestige
     is intact. The same cannot, unfortunately, be said of your
     Major-General [Marshal Lebœuf]. Everybody is making the greatest
     sacrifices. Our sole preoccupation is that you have not sufficient


Serious news from the Chargé d’Affaires (M. de la Boulaye) at Brussels;
General Chazal, Belgian Commander-in-Chief,[92] had removed his
headquarters to Namur, and had stated that the French army of Metz
would probably be attacked by the massed German armies. The Regent
rightly insisted upon the Metz forces being reinforced.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 9, 6 p.m._

     I think it is absolutely necessary you should be reinforced.
     According to my information, the junction of the two Prussian
     armies will put 300,000 men on your shoulders. Call to your aid the
     troops at Châlons and all others that you can get. If you approve,
     send immediate orders.


Not a solitary blade of grass does the Regent allow to grow under her
feet. Having sent that telegram, she immediately occupies herself with
the Paris Mobiles, the objects of much disquietude.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

_August 9, 8 p.m._

     The proposed law [drawn up by General Dejean] authorizes the
     incorporation of the Gardes Mobiles with the army. I entreat you to
     order the Mobiles to go immediately to the camp at Châlons for
     formation in regiments.

     I think the day after to-morrow I shall be able to send you 15,000
     men from Paris. Will you have them? Palikao tells me there are too
     many troops at Lyons. Should some of them be sent to you?


All this time the Empress was reporting to the Emperor what was taking
place at the Corps Législatif. Through her he learns that Marshal
Baraguay d’Hilliers does not wish to retain his command [of the Paris
forces]; she would like him replaced by Marshal Canrobert. She insisted
upon Lebœuf resigning the position of Major-General, but the Emperor
would not let the Marshal go.

On August 9 Charles Duperré reached Metz at 8 p.m., and had an immediate
interview with the Emperor, with this result:

_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _August 9, 10.5 p.m._

     I have seen Duperré, who will take my answer to you [in reference
     to the return of the Emperor and the Prince to Paris]. We seem to
     be returning to the fine times of the Revolution, when they wanted
     the army led by the representatives of the Convention. General
     Dumont can have the Lyons post in place of Montauban [Palikao]. I
     would bring to Metz, if I had the time and the means, the Châlons
     corps d’armée. I could do nothing better at the moment.

     I wish to keep Canrobert at the head of his corps. As to Marshal
     Lebœuf, he has already resigned, but I cannot accept it until I can
     get someone capable of replacing him. D’Autemarre must replace
     Baraguay d’Hilliers, and someone must be found to command the
     National Guard of the Seine. We embrace thee tenderly.


_Commander Duperré to the Empress._

METZ, _August 9, 10 p.m._

     This morning the Emperor gave General (_sic_) Bazaine the direction
     of operations and the command of the army, nominating him
     Major-General. All orders are to be transmitted and carried out by
     him. Consequently the Emperor must be constantly with him. The post
     of Major-General thus becomes superfluous. It must be suppressed,
     and taken from Marshal Lebœuf. This is what you must say in answer
     to the Emperor’s despatch.


Much annoyed by the Emperor’s refusal to adopt her views, Her Majesty
sent a strongly-worded despatch to Metz the same night.

_The Empress to the Emperor._

_August 9, 11 p.m._

     You do not know the situation. Only Bazaine inspires confidence.
     The presence of Marshal Lebœuf upsets things as much at Metz as
     here. The difficulties are immense. M. Schneider puts a knife to my
     throat for an almost impossible Ministry. I have to face this
     situation without troops, with disorder almost in the streets.
     D’Autemarre inspires the National Guard with confidence. If I
     displace him, they will not follow a new General. Canrobert is,
     then, indispensable to me. Take Trochu from his post, and you will
     satisfy public opinion and give me a devoted man, which at present
     I lack completely. In forty-eight hours I shall be betrayed by the
     fear of some and the inertia of others.


The Empress, as her despatch proves, was bent upon (1) getting Trochu
out of Paris; (2) having Canrobert as Commander of the Paris force; (3)
making Bazaine Commander-in-Chief; and (4) preventing the Emperor and
the Prince from returning from the front to Paris.

She instructed Duperré to speak “discreetly” to M. Franceschini Pietri
in order that he might telegraph directly to her, without the Emperor’s
knowledge, all that would be likely to interest her.

By August 10 Palikao had practically completed his new Ministry, making
the Prince de La Tour d’Auvergne (Ambassador at Vienna) Foreign Minister
without his knowledge! The Empress wanted a special post created for
Baron Haussmann, but to this Ministers objected, and Her Majesty had to
abandon her idea, excellent as it was. Haussmann as administrator of
everything relating to war supplies and to the provisioning of Paris
would have been worth his weight in gold.

At 3 am. on the 9th the Empress, unable to sleep, telegraphed to the
Emperor that Canrobert _must_ come to Paris and replace Trochu; and her
consort gave way!

The Empress had always admired Trochu, and it was only when, after the
defeats at Reichshoffen and Forbach, he blamed everybody, and boasted
that he alone had foreseen all the disasters, that her eyes were opened.

_The Prince Imperial to his Mother._

METZ, _August 10_.

     I have seen M. Duperré, who gave me great good news from Paris.
     Papa is well.


_The Empress to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 10_.

     I send you contents of a telegram which I have received [this
     referred to some alarming and inaccurate news from Brussels].
     Shall we send masses of Gardes Nationales Mobiles in the direction
     of the army? We will provide them with food and arms.

     The Ministry will, I hope, be formed at 3 p.m. to-day. I shall then
     be able to send marine infantry--an excellent force--to Châlons.
     All my preoccupation is that you have not enough men. Will you
     authorize me to send you men whenever I can do so, and can assure
     them a supply of food? You have not answered several telegrams
     which I sent yesterday. I am quite well. I embrace you tenderly. Do
     not worry about us. All will come right.


_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _August 10_.

     I refuse the battalions of Mobiles. I am getting the corps from
     Châlons. The Minister of War must occupy himself especially with
     arming the country people who ask for weapons. Form centres with
     the fourth battalions at Paris, Châlons, and Langres. MacMahon is
     going to re-form his corps at Châlons.


The Empress complained to her consort of telegrams from Lebœuf and the
Emperor being so contradictory that they produced “the most deplorable
effect” when they became known to the public (as she asserted was the
case). The Emperor explained all this in a telegram on the 10th,
concluding: “It rained in torrents last night. No fighting. We embrace
thee tenderly.”

Acting upon the advice given to her by Duperré in his telegram of the
9th, the Empress telegraphed to the Emperor begging him to suppress the
functions of Major-General.

_The Emperor to the Empress._

METZ, _August 10, evening_.

     It would be more impossible for me to do without a Major-General
     than without a Minister of War. There is no connection between
     those functions and those of Marshal Bazaine. For example, if I
     suppress the Major-General without advantageously replacing him,
     the army would go short of food, the cavalry would be without
     forage, and all the details of the service would suffer. One can
     know nothing about war to think that on the eve of a battle I can
     suppress the most important spoke in the wheel. I regret to hear
     that the Chamber has declared that it is sitting permanently. That
     is a manifest violation of the Constitution.


_The Emperor to Marshal Canrobert._

METZ, _August 10, 2.35 p.m._

     Continue uninterruptedly and without loss of time the movement of
     all your divisions at Châlons on Metz.

Canrobert was handed the above while he was waiting at the Tuileries, at
11 p.m., to see the Empress. In the face of that order how could he
abandon his corps on the eve of a battle? He could not, therefore,
comply with the Empress’s natural, yet somewhat flighty, desire that he
should remain in Paris at the head of its troops.

The Empress was now in a state of exhaustion, “living on her nerves and
strength of will.” All agreed that her conduct was “admirable.” She
could not eat, and, despite the large quantities of chloral which she
continued to take, she was unable to sleep. But she slaved on. Acting on
the advice of M. Magne (the financial expert) an inventory of the Crown
jewels was made, and the various objects were sent to the Bank of
France. Pepa, the Empress’s femme de chambre, was trembling with fear,
so she was sent away. The Prince de Metternich, who was honoured by the
Sovereign with her complete confidence, was constantly with her. He told
her of the increasing probability of a revolution, and depicted its
horrors in terms which made her consent to hand him her diamonds and her
other jewels.[94] These the Austrian Ambassador took away in his
carriage and sent them to England. Metternich’s gloomy forebodings
greatly excited the Empress. She thought once more of Marie Antoinette,
and felt that she might share that Queen’s fate on the scaffold.

The Council of August 10 finished at midnight, and the Empress warmly
thanked Canrobert for his presence. The Marshal was grieved at her
changed appearance. In a few days she appeared to have aged by ten
years. Her features were drawn, the wrinkles showed, her face was
puffed, fever burnt in her eyes, she was shaking with cold. As Canrobert
was there, she thought he had come to tell her he would not leave the
capital--would remain to protect her and to keep order in the town.
Taking him apart, she said: “Marshal, I wanted to see you to give you
the command of Paris. I reckon upon your devotion. You have influence
with the troops, and I am certain you will hold the command
successfully.” He showed her the Emperor’s imperative telegram, and
said: “Madame, I cannot accept. My corps is at this moment on the march
to Metz. There may be a battle to-morrow. If I remained here while my
men are fighting, your Majesty would have but a worm-eaten bâton which
would give you no support. Let me go and do my duty as a soldier.”

She understood, and was silent. Later, she regretted that she had not
compelled the Marshal to remain by her side, had a grudge against him
for ever, and reproached this faithful servant of the Empire for leaving
her at the moment of danger--leaving her by command of the Emperor.

Events proved that, as regards Canrobert, she was right, while it cannot
be said that the Emperor was wrong. Canrobert’s refusal gave Prince
Napoleon, a week later, the opportunity of making Trochu Governor of
Paris, with fatal results to the dynasty.

_Canrobert to the Emperor._

PARIS, _August 11, 1.10 a.m._

     As the Empress and the Montauban (Palikao) Ministry think that my
     presence here is not obligatory, I am going to Metz, where your
     Majesty has assembled all my corps for the decisive battle. I am
     leaving at once.


At 8 a.m. Canrobert started for Metz. All along the railway he saw
indescribable disorder. The employés had lost their heads. The line was
blocked. There were trains full of Failly’s stragglers. One man put his
head out of the window and shouted to Canrobert: “Now it is your turn
to go and get a drubbing!” The Marshal dragged the ruffian from the
carriage, shook the life out of him, and made him crave for pardon. At
last (August 12) the Marshal, famishing, got to the Metz station, where
one of his staff discovered a loaf, which they devoured. The Emperor was
at the Préfecture, and at seven o’clock he gave Canrobert an audience. A
conference was proceeding with Marshal Lebœuf and General Lebrun, and
Canrobert was an eager listener to the talk. The Emperor, well aware of
the scarcity of biscuits and also of cartridges, was endeavouring to get
supplies of both. He wanted to collect 200,000 men at Metz, but
Canrobert could not understand why. The Sovereign seemed to be dreaming.

While Canrobert was with the Emperor, Commandant Lanclos (one of the
Marshal’s aides-de-camp) witnessed a strange scene at the Hôtel de
l’Europe. The house was full of officers, all much excited, and deeming
the game lost. “See what fifteen years of favouritism have done for us,”
said a Colonel of the Staff. “The Emperor ought not to give any more
orders. He should make Bazaine Commander-in-Chief, with full powers.”
This was openly said by a General, one of His Majesty’s aides. Another
General spoke strongly in favour of Bazaine, in whom all appeared to
have confidence. He was “the saviour hailed by everybody.” Even the most
devoted friends of the Emperor had lost their faith in him. When he was
at the Tuileries, Canrobert had observed the same feeling. Those
surrounding the Empress no longer troubled about the Emperor--what he
did, what he said, what he thought. He had become an embarrassment.

In 1867 all the “strong places” had been well supplied with biscuits by
Marshal Niel; but by June, 1870, not one was left, and the Chamber
(previous to the declaration of war) had refused to vote money for
further supplies. Thus Metz and the frontier places were now without
resources. A hurried contract had been made with the house of Rothschild
for 2,500 tons of biscuits, which were on board ship at various ports,
until they could be taken to Metz. The railway at Nancy and other places
was blocked, so that no food, or anything else, could get to Metz. Plans
were changed hourly. Orders followed by counter-orders--this was the

Marshal Canrobert left the Emperor firmly convinced that the only plan
in existence at the moment was to concentrate 200,000 men at Metz; what
they were to do when, if ever, they arrived there was a mystery!

After forcing his way through the streets, which were in a state of
turmoil, Canrobert reached his hotel, the Europe, and ordered lunch--an
omelette and a cutlet. These he could have, but only in the room common
to all comers.

     In a large room, on the ground-floor, was a great table; around it
     were smaller ones. At all of them were seated, pell-mell, Generals,
     officers of all ranks, civilians, reporters, and women of every
     description--in such costumes! All these people were talking,
     gesticulating, and eating. Such were the avant-coureurs of defeat.

Nothing had been seen of the enemy for many days. Canrobert was furious,
but he said nothing, and ordered his officers to remain silent. He rode
to Woippy, saw his troops, and returned to the Emperor. His Majesty,
bombarded by telegrams from the Empress and Palikao, gave way. By
half-past two o’clock that day Lebœuf had ceased to be Major-General,
and Bazaine was Commander-in-Chief of the French army, vice Napoleon
III., resigned!

Canrobert saw at the Metz Préfecture the ghost of an Emperor.
Overwhelmed, pale as death, seated at a large table, Napoleon held in
one hand a pocket-handkerchief, with which he continually wiped his
mouth. Either he had had a nephritic attack or had taken an over-dose of
extrait thébaïgne; for he was inert.

Canrobert left Lebœuf, Bazaine, and the Emperor together at the
Préfecture. The Emperor never told anyone what Bazaine and he had
discussed. General Lebrun has put it on record that the Emperor told
Bazaine he wished the army to retreat, and that Bazaine made no reply.
In the evening Napoleon wrote to Bazaine: “See what can be done, and if
we are not attacked to-morrow we will come to a decision.”

Marshal Bazaine, tried by a court-martial--presided over by H.R.H. the
Duc d’Aumale--for dereliction of duty, was found guilty, deprived of his
military rank, and sentenced to imprisonment for life. I doubt very much
whether the guilt or innocence of Bazaine will ever be satisfactorily
established. The temper of the French people at the time of
his trial required a victim, and he was freely offered up by his
companions-in-arms on the altar of National Vanity. Nothing throughout
the war was more remarkable than the discussions, the rivalries, the
petty jealousies, which characterized the relations of Napoleon’s
Marshals and Generals. A friend of mine who was at Metz in the early
period of the war assured me that he had never seen anything more
pitiable than the look of sheer despondency which he saw on the
Emperor’s face as he sat presiding at a council of war, and listening to
the noisy and even brutal recriminations of one General after another as
he rose to defend his own movements, or attack the tactics of a brother
officer. Naturally, Bazaine had few friends among the Commanders of
Corps. They were only too glad to be able to point to his retirement on
Metz, and his subsequent surrender, as the proximate causes of the
overthrow of the French army. Each one felt his military honour less
seriously impeached when the court-martial ordered Bazaine’s name to be
struck off the roll of the Legion of Honour.

I do not presume to offer an opinion on the subject of Bazaine’s crime;
but, from all that I have been able to gather from French military
experts, the conviction is now prevalent that Bazaine was no traitor. I
know that the Empress Eugénie, who suffered as much as anybody through
his falling back on Metz, had nothing worse to say of him than that he
was “ramolli,” that all the thoughts of the old soldier were centred in
his young and pretty wife and her children, and that France was
secondary. At any rate, it is pretty certain that when the German armies
got between him and Paris all the energy and skill and bravery of the
best General France had would have been overtaxed by the effort to
pierce the barrier of fire and steel built across the roads by the
Germans. Happily, there was one exception. Bazaine’s Chief of Staff,
his devoted friend during the siege, and subsequently his support during
the trial, his comrade in imprisonment, ultimately his saviour, deserves
honourable mention. He it was who planned and carried out Bazaine’s
escape from the Isle St. Marguerite in a little rowing-boat, and enabled
his old commander to spend the rest of his days in exile instead of in



     “Nous sommes prêts, archi-prêts. Il ne nous manque pas un bouton de
     guêtre.”--MARSHAL LEBŒUF.

In the dead of the night the springless waggon containing two doctors of
a Sanitäts-Corps and myself rumbled through the streets of hilly
Clermont, at that moment[96] the headquarters of King William, first
German Emperor. I had made my way from Saarbrücken (escaping in a
soldiers’ train) to Pont-à-Mousson, had seen something of the Bavarian
bombardment of Toul, and had visited Commercy and Bar-le-Duc. These
eastern districts were occupied by the German troops, and side by side
on the walls of the Hôtel de Ville at Commercy were the Emperor’s
placards, headed “Souscription en faveur de l’armée,” and King William’s
announcement, “La conscription est abolie dans toute l’étendue du
territoire Français occupé par les troupes Allemandes.”

I found the Prussians in high feather. “We shall be in Paris in a
fortnight from now,” said some of their officers to me at table d’hôte;
and I thought of the prediction when, three weeks later, I was “before,”
but not yet “in,” Paris with them. My greatest anxiety had been to catch
up the royal headquarters, so that I might apply for a “legitimation,”
which would enable me to move about free of interference; and, thanks to
Count von Podbielski, the King’s Adjutant, I obtained this precious
document at Clermont. It was here that I met the King--here that, for
the first time, I saw Moltke and other giants of the sword, and

The one long, steep street of Clermont was ankle-deep in white mud. Each
side of it was lined by baggage-waggons and carriages--such carriages!
In every house soldiers were billeted. At No. 21 in the main
thoroughfare King William was lodged. This was the royal
“haupt-quartier”--a plain, white building, nothing like the grand
residence which the King had had at Saarbrücken. There was no flag
flying. Two soldiers were doing “sentry go”--that was all. As the church
clock chimed eight our hearts were stirred by the clash of music, and a
Bavarian battalion marched through the town, their band, forty-three
strong, playing the march from “Sardanapalus,” to which, four days later
(September 1), I stepped at Bazeilles, while shells were flying and
bullets whistling, and the mitrailleuses furnishing a growling, snarling

As the Bavarians--the ill-fated King Ludwig’s lissome Bavarians--passed
No. 21 the King (he was seventy-four then!) came to the open window and
gravely saluted the Captain of each company with a nod of his silvery
head. “Hoch!” shouted the men--“hoch! hoch!” Presently came another
battalion, and then the King came downstairs and stood in the street,
chatting to his Staff as if it had been a review day in the Tempelhof,
and not a pouring wet morning in war-time. King William was in the
uniform of a general officer--tunic and trousers of blue, pickelhaube,
low boots, cloak, and the blue-and-gold star common to all his Generals.
All the officers of the battalion were called to the front, and forty or
fifty were presented to His Majesty, who made this little speech:
“Gentlemen, I am very much pleased to see the troops of Bavaria with
those of Prussia. It has also given me a great deal of pleasure to
observe the bravery which you have displayed and the zeal you possess. I
hope that this unity of all the German armies will long endure, and that
you will gain yet more glory.”

Von Moltke and two or three other officers stood close by, and in
attendance on the King was Count von Alten, brother of the Duchess of
Manchester. (The Duke of Manchester of those days was with the Prussians
for some time in the early days of the campaign.) Spectators of the
incident were General Sheridan, of the United States Army, and a couple
of other Americans. As I stood in the muddy streets of Clermont that
morning, my attention riveted on the King, I little thought that ere the
week was over I should witness two of the most sanguinary battles of the
war, and see Napoleon III. and his army surrender to the white-haired
old gentleman who had greeted his Bavarians so pleasantly opposite No.

The hotel at Raucourt--a small town some two or three miles from the
battlefield of Sedan--was full of German officers on August 31, but no
hint was dropped to the three civilians (two English and one
Austrian[97]) in the house that the next day would be an eventful one.
The word “Sedan” was not even mentioned. But the constant passage of
troops, all moving in the same direction, warned us to be on the alert.
At half-past seven on September 1 two of us joined the procession,
stimulated to hasten forward by the continuous roar of the guns from

Pontoon bridges had been built over the Meuse, and on these we crossed
with artillery and infantry--thousands of both. Here was the
battlefield, extending over miles of ground, hill and valley, with
sheltering woods here and there. It was a sweltering day--blue sky and
fierce sunshine. The French gunners were very active, and, as we skirted
the welcome coppice, their shells flew over our heads and burst at a few
yards’ distance. Parched with thirst, I parted company with my friend,
whom I thought rashly venturesome, and retraced my steps in the
direction of a large château, in the hope of getting a glass of water.
On guard at the entrance-gate was a helmeted soldier, who barred my way.
I produced my “permit,” signed only two or three days before by the
King’s Adjutant, General von Podbielski; but this had no effect upon
him, and, but for a happy accident--or, rather, two accidents--I should
never have seen any more of the fighting. I ran up to a mounted officer,
showed him my “legitimation,” and had the satisfaction of hearing him
shout to the man at the gate to “let me in,” as I was a privileged
person, entitled to go whither I listed.

Much relieved at this recognition of my status, I was tramping on
towards the coppice, in the hope of picking up my companion, when a
sergeant in charge of some ammunition waggons passed. To my surprise he
stopped, inquiring, in my own tongue, “Are you an Englishman, sir?” I
assured him that I was, and, moreover, a newspaper correspondent.

“Well, then,” said this friend in need, “if you will come with me, I
will take you to our battery, which is in action on the top of the hill,
and introduce you to the Captain, Von Richter, who I dare say will allow
you to be attached to us upon seeing your ‘legitimation.’ Otherwise you
may find yourself in trouble.”

It was soon done, and I was made free of the battery, and permitted to
share its fate.

I found that this battery was part of the Fourth Army Corps, commanded
by the then Crown Prince of Saxony, who became King Albert some years
later. The battery was pounding away all day, and I never left it. I had
smelt powder previously--at Saarbrücken, when the little Prince Imperial
received his “baptism of fire,” and at the battle of Beaumont, at the
end of August. Then, however, I was constantly moving about, and at
Saarbrücken, when Von Pestel’s 1,000 fusiliers and three squadrons of
Uhlans retreated, leaving the Emperor and Frossard’s force of 30,000 (!)
masters of the field, I had an hour’s run at top speed with the defeated
troops until we were out of reach of the French fire.

It was different on September 1. I was in the best position to see the
fighting, throughout the day, until it was all over, and I was cautioned
against roving about. On rising ground, near Richter’s battery, were the
King, Moltke, Bismarck, Von Podbielski, Von Alvensleben, and
others--General Sheridan amongst them. I should have preferred the
position of a “galloper” to that of a mere spectator, standing up, hour
after hour, as it seemed to me, to be shot at. The firing from this one
battery alone deafened me at first, but I soon got used to it. The time
dragged on very slowly. I cannot conscientiously say that this period of
looking on was particularly exciting. Our battery was engaged in a duel
with a French battery on a distant hill. To these Saxon gunners it
seemed not to matter what happened elsewhere. They were only an atom of
a vast mosaic. What our battery was doing was being done by other
batteries all over an illimitable area.

Down in the valley we watched the lines of blue-tuniced Germans always
advancing. Havoc in their ranks was made by the mitrailleuses, whose
diabolical grinding rattle was terrifying; but the wearers of the spiked
helmets seemed to be traversing a field of poppies, so thickly was the
ground strewn by the red-trousered killed and wounded. Every now and
again our battery took up a fresh position, and as we advanced the
closer we got to Bazeilles, Willers-Cernay, and Waldincourt, all in

We did not know the “motive” of the battle, which, as General Pajol
afterwards put it, was to drive the French into the “mousetrap” of
Sedan. What we did know, towards the late afternoon, was that we had
assisted at a great German victory, and that the white flag (which, from
our position, we could not see) had been hoisted within Sedan. What we
saw, about four o’clock, was the German cavalry scouring the valley and
cutting down the retreating enemy. Then our battery ceased firing, but
we heard the occasional growling of other guns until sunset. Next
morning early, when the bands were playing “Nun danket alle Gott,”
General von Schöler told me many astounding things--how the Emperor
Napoleon had personally surrendered, and how the whole French army had
capitulated. Von Schöler, like so many others, thought the war was over,
but on the 3rd the victorious armies began the famous march to Paris.
And that march is a thing to remember, for by the 19th the invaders had
encircled the capital.

At 8.30 p.m. on Thursday, the never-to-be-forgotten First of September,
1870, when Napoleon, although he had formally surrendered, was not yet
an actual captive, General de Wimpffen said to him: “Sire, if I have
lost the battle, it is because your Generals refused to obey my orders.”

Towards the end of August the Emperor had confided the supreme command
to Marshal Bazaine, and left Metz for Châlons, where he found the débris
of the 1st Corps (MacMahon), the 5th (Failly), the 7th (Douay), and the
newly-formed 12th Corps (Trochu). Napoleon followed MacMahon’s corps,
which was in very indifferent case.

On August 30 the whole of the French corps were at a point between
Mouzon and Carignan. Failly, who had just been badly beaten, found that
he was in close proximity to the greater portion of the German forces,
and felt unable to march to Metz; as a consequence, MacMahon ordered him
to retreat to Sedan, and told the Emperor (then at Carignan) also to
proceed to that place, now the rallying centre of the army. When, at 11
p.m., Napoleon reached Sedan, he was urged to continue his journey to
Mézières, where he would have been safe, and could have gained Paris. He
refused, however, to leave the army, declaring that he would share its

The four French corps were so placed as to surround Sedan, the left bank
of the Meuse remaining open. This was an unfortunate disposition, as it
made it possible for the Germans to pass round the town by that bank of
the river. A Bavarian and a Prussian corps soon occupied that position,
thus preventing a French retreat in that direction.

The battle of Sedan began at 5 a.m. on September 1, the Germans first
attacking from the Bazeilles side, vigorously defended by the 12th
Corps. MacMahon immediately roused the Emperor, who rode towards
Bazeilles, followed by his Staff. On the road he met MacMahon, already
wounded and hors de combat. The Emperor rode on until he came to
Vassoigne’s division of marine infantry, a splendid force. The
Sovereign, finding that shells and bullets were coming from all sides at
once, ordered the officers accompanying him to join a battalion of
foot-chasseurs, who were sheltered by a wall, until the time came for
them to advance in line. The Emperor, anxious to see the disposition of
his troops, rode onward, accompanied only by his aide-de-camp of the day
(General Pajol), his orderly officer (Captain d’Hendecourt, who was
killed), his principal écuyer (Comte Davilliers), and his doctor (Baron
Corvisart). Napoleon proceeded to an exposed point, where Commandant St.
Aulaire’s battery was in position, remaining there for an hour under a
withering cannon and rifle fire.

At 6 a.m. MacMahon, wounded, had placed the command in the hands of
Ducrot, who, in order to prevent the turning movement, which had been
fatal to the French in previous battles, and also to preserve the one
line of retreat remaining open--viz., the Mézières road--had placed on
the heights of Floing two divisions of the 7th Corps, whose artillery
faced Mézières; and at the same time he ordered the commander of the
12th Corps to execute his retreat in échelons by brigades. That movement
was ably performed by General Lebrun (vice Trochu), whose force never
ceased fighting during the operation.

General de Wimpffen now appeared. He had visited the outposts, had
observed the admirable attitude of the 12th Corps (Lebrun’s) and its
energetic resistance on the Bazeilles side, and predicted a successful
issue of the battle. It was still only nine o’clock. For three hours
Ducrot had been in supreme command. De Wimpffen now handed him a letter,
signed by the War Minister, in virtue of which he claimed to succeed the
wounded Marshal. Ducrot at once complied, and explained to De Wimpffen
all that had been done. The new commander treated Ducrot’s explanation
very lightly, and expressed the opinion that the enemy’s movements were
nothing but cavalry manœuvres!

As the Emperor now wished to proceed to the distant heights, which were
apparently the key to the position, he led his Staff down to Givonne,
where they met General Goze and his division. Here an officer of
chasseurs-à-pied approached the Emperor, saying: “Sire, I am a native of
these parts, and know the country perfectly. If we allow the Garenne
wood to be turned the army will be surrounded, and will be in a most
critical position.”

Napoleon at once sent one of his Staff to find De Wimpffen and give him
this information, which bore out what Ducrot had previously said. De
Wimpffen rode up to the Emperor, remarking: “Your Majesty need not be
alarmed. In two hours I shall have thrown them into the Meuse!”

General Castelnau grasped General Pajol’s hand, exclaiming: “I hope to
God _we_ shall not be thrown into the river!”

All were now alive to the supreme danger of the French forces. The
ground on which the Emperor and his Staff were standing was torn up by
shells coming from all sides. The troops had already concentrated in the
ravines which surrounded Sedan; the roads leading to those places were
blocked by commissariat and artillery waggons and by regiments of
cavalry; all these thousands were trying to escape from the storm of
shells and bullets, but the majority succumbed to the terrible fire.

The result of De Wimpffen’s change of plan was now evident. At one
o’clock the 1st and 5th Corps got into confusion. The Generals
endeavoured to re-establish order by going to the front; but all was of
no avail, and the troops retreated to Sedan in such disorder that
General Lebrun had the gates of the town closed. Even this was useless,
for the defeated troops scaled the ramparts with the aid of ropes and
ladders let down by the men within the citadel.

The Emperor had fully realized the situation since eleven o’clock. For
five hours he had been in the thick of the fighting, under a cross-fire.
Shells burst around him and his Staff. General de Courson and Captain de
Trécesson had fallen gravely wounded close to the Emperor. In retiring
the troops had compelled His Majesty to fall back, and he was jammed
against the walls of the town. When, at half-past eleven, he freed
himself, more than 30,000 men were heaped together in the streets of
Sedan, pell-mell. The enemy’s shells fell in their midst, as they were
still falling on the battlefield itself, and dealt out the same
destruction. On the bridge a shell burst two yards from the Emperor,
killing two horses by his side. The marvel was that he escaped with his
life and uninjured.

After visiting Marshal MacMahon, the Emperor tried to remount his
charger. As the confusion rendered this impossible, His Majesty went to
the Sous-Préfecture, and there awaited the dénouement. The commanders of
the various corps soon joined him, declaring that the troops were all in
such disorder in the streets that further resistance was impossible.
General Pellé, who, next day, voted against the capitulation, said to
the Emperor: “Sire, I am only a soldier. I want to save your Majesty,
but at this moment you cannot leave the ramparts. To attempt to do so
would be useless.”

The Emperor replied that he would not sacrifice the life of a single
soldier to save his own, and that he had made up his mind to share the
fate of the army.

Having minutely questioned the Generals as to the state of affairs, the
Emperor sent General Lebrun to find General de Wimpffen, and tell him,
since it was useless to continue the struggle, to ask for an armistice.
A full hour having elapsed without any answer from De Wimpffen, and the
murderous fire of the Germans continuing, while the French guns remained
silent, the Emperor himself ordered the white flag to be hoisted on the
citadel. The King immediately sent an aide-de-camp to demand the
surrender of the town. The Emperor, believing that in delivering himself
up to the victors he would obtain better terms for the army and for
France, despatched one of his own aides-de-camp to the King with the
message that the Emperor placed his sword in the Prussian Sovereign’s
hands. On the following day (Friday, September 2), at a Council of War,
composed of thirty Generals, presided over by General de Wimpffen, it
was recognized that capitulation was inevitable, only two Generals
voting against it.

The Emperor (General Pajol asserts it most positively) was entirely
ignorant of the strategical movements which led the army from Châlons to
Mouzon, and from thence to Sedan. To charge Napoleon III. with being
militarily responsible for the capitulation of Sedan is an injustice, as
Marshal MacMahon was perfectly free in all his movements. The Emperor
has been personally charged with wrecking the army. He could but try to
save the crew of the ship, of which he was no longer the captain. This
is what he endeavoured to do when, at three o’clock in the afternoon, he
ordered the white flag to be hoisted. Half an hour later one or other of
the Generals would have given the order, but in the meantime thousands
more lives would have been sacrificed.

The politicians tried to throw the whole of the responsibility of Sedan
upon the Emperor, whom they would certainly not have credited with a
victory, had there been one. But Marshal MacMahon, whose noble
simplicity and loyal character are known to all, wrote, in October,
1870, a letter to the Emperor, dated from Pouru-aux-Bois, in which he
said: “The Emperor may be assured that I should never think, for the
purpose of defending myself personally, of misrepresenting the events
which I witnessed in the last campaign.”

These words do the Duc de Magenta honour, and cast upon each individual
the responsibility of his acts.

“Such is the true story of this deplorable day. I have given the details
in sober language. Desiring only to tell the truth, I have related only
what I myself saw.”[98]

Were the Emperor’s cheeks rouged on the day of Sedan? Zola has asserted
that they were so coloured “to make him appear juvenile, and even
jovial.”[99] Personally I can neither confirm nor deny the allegation,
for, although I was with the Saxons during the battle, and remained on
the field the two following days, I failed to get a glimpse of the
Emperor, who had been within an ace of being captured on August 29 and
30 by the troops I was then accompanying. His Majesty (so they assured
me) was bundled into a third-class carriage of the last train used by
his forces, and so escaped capture by the skin of his teeth.

It is quite possible that some of those numerous informants of Zola,
from whose stories he mainly compiled his marvellous narrative, may have
inadvertently led him astray in this particular matter, if not on some
other points. I have conversed with a French gentleman who was close to
the Emperor an hour or

[Illustration: NAPOLEON III. AT SEDAN.

From an unpublished photograph, privately taken at the instance of the
Comte de La Chapelle, of the picture painted by the distinguished French
artist, Olivier Pichat. Lent for this work by the Vicomte de La

_To face p. 216._]

two before the surrender and with a Prussian officer who was one of
Napoleon’s escort. Both closely scrutinized the captive, but neither
noticed any unusual colour in his face. Zola was not the first Frenchman
to accuse Napoleon III. of cowardice (for that is what is implied by the
story of the painted cheeks); he may have borrowed the idea from
Kinglake, who describes the Emperor at Magenta turning green, yellow,
and white under the Austrian fire.

Those who enjoyed the personal acquaintance of the Emperor are unanimous
in the opinion that he was less of a poseur than most men. There was
nothing of the “roi du théâtre” about him. Throughout the short campaign
which finished for Napoleon III. at Sedan he was, both physically and
mentally, unstrung by his malady. It was indispensable that he should
begin the campaign in good health, and be able to keep the saddle for
several hours at a stretch. Gamble, the Scotsman, who superintended the
imperial stables for many years, and stood by the Emperor on the day of
Sedan, said that His Majesty “did his best to court death,” despite the
entreaties of his officers; and Gamble’s testimony is confirmed by many
other eye-witnesses.

The late M. Paul de Cassagnac gave Zola credit for his account of Sedan,
but emphatically denied the rouging story. De Cassagnac was a good
witness, for he was with the Emperor at Sedan. “It was on my shoulder,”
he has told us, “that Napoleon III. leaned when, seriously ill and
suffering terribly, he got into the carriage in order to surrender
himself as a prisoner.”

The question was even discussed by M. Melchior de Voguë, who affirmed
that Zola was wrong.[100] Princesse Mathilde, cousin of Napoleon III.,
“refused to believe that the Emperor would have acted so theatrically on
such a momentous occasion.” She had certainly never told anyone that her
relative was rouged. M. Robert Mitchell corroborated Paul de Cassagnac.
He was a volunteer in the 3rd Zouaves at Sedan, often saw the Emperor,
and was certain he was not rouged. M. Mitchell argued (and military
experts will agree with him) that no writer, “not even Zola,” could
adequately describe what happened at Sedan without having been actually
in the battle. We may believe Paul de Cassagnac and Robert Mitchell, and
may be certain that Zola was misinformed.

I pass on to the final phase of Sedan.

In newspapers, in magazines, in volumes of memoirs, in histories of the
war, there have appeared, year after year, ever since the autumn of
1870, as many different accounts of what passed the day following the
battle of Sedan, at the interviews which Napoleon III. had, first with
Bismarck, and next with the King of Prussia, as would fill volumes. It
is natural that it should be so, for at the meeting of the Emperor and
the King no third person was present, and the Emperor’s talk with
Bismarck was heard by only one other man. What passed between the two
Sovereigns was related to his son, the then Crown Prince, by the King,
and recorded by the Prince in his “Diary,” in his royal father’s own
words. The Prince-reporter’s account of the interview is as follows:

     The King began by saying that, as the fortune of war had gone
     against the Emperor, and as the latter had handed his sword to the
     King, His Majesty had come to ask Napoleon III. his present
     intentions. Napoleon replied that he placed himself in the King’s
     hands. The King rejoined that it was with a feeling of real
     compassion that he saw his adversary in such a position; the more
     so as he knew that it had not been easy for the Emperor to resolve
     upon war. This assertion was visibly welcome to Napoleon. He warmly
     assured the King that he had given way to public opinion when he
     decided upon war. Thereupon the King remarked that, as public
     opinion had had that tendency, those who had excited it were the
     more culpable. Then, recurring to the immediate object of the
     Emperor’s visit, the King asked Napoleon if he wished to enter into

     The Emperor replied in the negative, observing that, being a
     prisoner, he had no control over the Government. And upon the King
     inquiring where the Government was, Napoleon replied, “At Paris.”
     The King then turned the conversation upon the Emperor’s future,
     and offered him the château of Wilhelmshöhe as a residence--an
     offer which he immediately accepted. He appeared particularly
     satisfied when the King said he would give him an escort of honour
     which would insure his safety to the frontier. As Napoleon, in the
     course of the conversation, appeared to suppose that he had had
     against him the army of Prince Frederick Charles, the King told him
     that it was not so--it was the army of the Crown Prince of Saxony
     and my army. The Emperor having inquired where the army of Prince
     Frederick Charles was, the King, emphasizing the words, replied,
     “With the 7th Army Corps, before Metz.” The Emperor, painfully
     surprised, took a step backwards. On his face there was a sad
     expression, for now it was made clear to him that he had not been
     opposed by all the German army.

     The King praised the bravery of the French, which Napoleon
     willingly recognized. The conversation lasted a good quarter of an
     hour, and then both retired. The tall figure of the King dominated.
     The Emperor saw me, and held out one hand, while with the other he
     tried to dry the tears which rolled down his face. He uttered words
     of gratitude to me, and for the generous manner in which the King
     had treated him. I spoke naturally in the same sense, and asked him
     if he had been able to get some rest during the night. He replied
     that chagrin and the thought of his family had banished all
     possibility of sleep. When I expressed my regret that the war had
     been so terrible and so sanguinary, he said it was, alas! too true,
     too terrible, especially as “they had not wanted war!” He had not
     received any news of the Empress and the Prince Imperial for a
     week, and asked if he might send her a private telegram--a request
     which was granted. We shook hands as we parted, Boyen and Lynar
     accompanying him. There was something sinister-looking about his
     suite in their new uniforms, in marked contrast with ours, so
     damaged by the war. When he had gone a telegram from the Empress
     arrived, and I sent it to him by Seckendorff.... Some fears are
     expressed lest the results of the war should not come up to the
     expectations of the German people.

The only witness of the meeting (September 2, 1870) between Napoleon
III. and Count Bismarck at Donchéry, the day after the battle of Sedan,
was Colonel Freiherr Josef von Ellrichshausen (who died in September,
1906). After the Colonel had ridden out with his men to take over a
convoy of wounded French officers and prisoners, and while thus engaged,
the carriage with the Emperor in it appeared. At the same moment several
horsemen, amongst whom was Bismarck, rode up. Von Ellrichshausen
reported to the Chancellor the presence of the Emperor, whereupon
Bismarck at once sprang from his horse, and, in the Colonel’s own words,
“approached Napoleon almost with humility, and the words, ‘Sire,
qu’est-ce que vous désirez?’” As conversation in the small wayside house
(the only building near at hand) was impossible owing to the presence of
many dead and wounded soldiers, Von Ellrichshausen and his men brought
out two chairs, upon which Napoleon and Bismarck sat while discussing
the situation.[101]

The late Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, accompanied by Sir Henry James (Lord
James of Hereford), happened to be at Verviers when Napoleon III. was
being taken to Wilhelmshöhe. Drummond Wolff found the Emperor looking
anything but ill, nor did his features betray any traces of that deep
emotion which other eye-witnesses have dwelt upon so eloquently. The
Emperor “leant somewhat heavily on the arm of the gentleman who assisted
him to alight” from the carriage which had brought him to Verviers. His
Majesty read a despatch which was handed to him, “sat down at a table in
the waiting-room, and was engaged in writing for some time.” He then
took a turn up and down the platform, returned to the waiting-room, and
read _l’Indépendence Belge_ until the moment came for him to enter the
special train which took him to his destination, Wilhelmshöhe. Sir Henry
Drummond Wolff noted with the Emperor General Chazal, who was in
command of the Belgian army of observation on the German frontier, and
at whose earnest request the Emperor wrote a full explanation of the
causes which, in his opinion, led to his defeat at Sedan.[102]

     To the list of English journalists who suffered from the spy mania
     in the Franco-German War, and whose cases were recorded in the
     _Star_, may be added the name of Mr. Edward Legge, who was at that
     time the youngest of the war “specials.” As the representative of
     the _Irish Times_ he was present at the first engagement (the
     “baptism of fire”) at Saarbrücken, and the next morning started
     alone (the fighting having scattered the reporting battalion) to
     overtake the Germans, who had retreated the previous day. He was
     not long in coming up with the wearers of the “Pickelhaube,” and in
     being arrested by a cavalry picket. The imaginary “French spy” was
     put in a springless waggon, and taken from one place to another,
     and before one General after the other, until he felt somewhat
     weary of the involuntary promenade in full view of König Wilhelm’s
     legions. Appearances were decidedly against him, but nobody seemed
     disposed to give the order to put a bullet through him, although
     that was the fate which he hourly anticipated. The hectoring
     General von Steinmetz first believed and then relegated the
     prisoner to General von Goeben, who liberated him on condition that
     he went straight off to Cologne, and did not return to “the front”
     again. The required promise was given--and broken, and a week
     afterwards the correspondent was back at Saarbrücken, where he read
     the news of his death in the _Old Free Press_ (Vienna) and also in
     the _Times_ (which later contradicted it under the pleasing heading
     of “A Revenant”). The youthful “special” passed scatheless through
     the battles of Beaumont and Sedan, accompanying a Saxon battery
     into action on the memorable First of September, and remaining “in
     the thick of it” until nightfall; and the next day marched with the
     same battery to Paris, or, rather, to Montmorency and St. Gratien,
     where he remained during several weeks of the siege.--_Star._



Often as the story of the Empress’s escape from the Tuileries on
September 4, 1870, has been told--perhaps with more circumstantiality by
the late Mr. T. W. Evans than by anyone else--the version now given for
the first time differs in some important respects from the Evans

This account of the episode of September 4 (not the 1st, as erroneously
printed in the original French version) appeared in _L’Écho du Parlement
Belge_ of January 28, 1871. The writer asserts that his informant was
the well-known diplomatist, Mr. Bancroft, who at the time in question
was United States Minister at Berlin, and who stated that he had “had it
direct from Mr. Evans”; which, to say the least of it, is curious.

This new version of an old story runs thus:

About nine o’clock on the morning of September 4, 1870, the Empress
Eugénie was in the Pavillon Marsan, at the Tuileries, anxiously waiting
for the domestics to come and assist her in dressing, as Her Majesty was
going to hear the grand’messe at the church of St. Germain-l’Auxerrois.
The Empress became impatient, and was astonished that no one had obeyed
the orders which she had given. At this moment there arrived Mme.
Lebreton (sister of General Bourbaki), her devoted friend, who came to
report to the Empress the gloomy state of affairs in the capital. It
appeared that the people were excitedly demanding the overthrow of the
Emperor; everywhere menacing groups had formed; perhaps the Tuileries
would be invaded.

With tears in her eyes, Mme. Lebreton entreated the Empress to fly while
there was still time to escape. Her Majesty, although much perturbed by
what she had heard, tried to soothe Mme. Lebreton with the assurance
that General Trochu would watch over her safety--that he had promised to
protect her, that he was a man of honour, that he would keep his word,
and that if there should be any real danger he would not fail to send
someone who would tell her what course it was necessary, in his opinion,
for her to take.

Meanwhile the Revolution became more threatening. The clamour of the
crowd and the cries of “Vive la République!” were plainly heard by the
two ladies. Mme. Lebreton renewed her appeals, but the Empress unheeded
them. “I have confidence in Trochu,” she continued to repeat; “he is a
soldier, and will not abandon me.”

It was not until about one o’clock that, the Place du Carrousel being by
this time invaded, the Empress, now finally convinced of her danger and
of Trochu’s defection, listened to Mme. Lebreton. Her Majesty rang for
her women--rang several times; no one came. Mme. Lebreton, much alarmed,
went into all the neighbouring rooms. Not a soul! All she saw was
furniture upside down--the drawers all open.

The Empress was abandoned--abandoned by everybody, even by her servants!
Then the poor woman fled, accompanied only by her devoted friend. For a
full hour they paced through the galleries, the cabinets, the long
passages of the immense, deserted palace, their cheeks paling at every
noise which they fancied they heard; not daring to pass in front of the
windows for fear that those outside might see them; undecided which way
to go. Finally, exhausted, they arrived under the colonnade of the
Louvre, at the top of the great staircase.

When, at last, they ventured to look into each other’s face, a cry of
terror escaped from them. In their haste and their anguish of mind they
had forgotten to put on their hats and mantles; thus they could not take
a step without being noticed. The Empress was en peignoir, with a simple
piece of gauze thrown over her head. At this moment, before they had got
half-way down the stairs leading to the street, someone close to them
exclaimed, “The Empress!” Her Majesty turned pale and cried out, “We are
lost!” Mme. Lebreton, preserving her sang-froid, turned towards the
person who had spoken; he was a gentleman irreproachably dressed. She
cast a look of entreaty at him. He understood, and pretended not to see

At the foot of the staircase a fiacre was passing. To spring into it was
the work of a moment. The driver, astonished, and perhaps suspecting who
the two ladies were, had a good look at them. The Empress, conquering
her fears, exclaimed brusquely, “Boulevard Haussmann, 30!” and the
fiacre moved off. As they were driving through the streets, feeling a
ray of hope, Mme. Lebreton asked her mistress if she had any money with
her. “Ah, mon Dieu! Did I think of that?” replied the Empress. Mme.
Lebreton rummaged her pockets, while the faces of both were bathed in a
cold perspiration. “Saved!” cried Mme. Lebreton, who had found in her
pockets two five-franc pieces!

The cab stopped at the place indicated. At the same moment another
fiacre came up. The driver of the Empress’s cab was given five francs,
and when he had disappeared the two ladies engaged the other vehicle.
“Avenue de l’Impératrice, 57!” said the Empress. (It was to put the
first cabman off the track that the Empress had told him to go to the
Boulevard Haussmann.)

At No. 57, Avenue de l’Impératrice lived Mr. Evans, the Court dentist.
They rang the bell, and a valet opened the door. “Monsieur is not at
home,” said the man; “what do you want?” Then, surprised at the tenue of
the ladies, the servant seemed to be about to shut the door in their
faces, but the Empress, rousing herself, said: “We are two Americans.
Mr. Evans made an appointment with us here at three o’clock.”

They were shown into a room, where they waited an hour. Then Mr. Evans
came in. He had returned from the Tuileries, where he had vainly
searched for the Empress.

Upon Mr. Evans’s return the servant told him that two ladies, very oddly
attired, were waiting to see him, and the dentist at once guessed who
they were. “Ah, yes,” he remarked, “they have come to bother me again.
We must try to get them across the Atlantic as soon as possible.”

He had previously arranged how the Empress was to escape. While two of
his best horses were being harnessed, the Empress and Mme. Lebreton
wrapped themselves in some plaid shawls which they found in Mrs. Evans’s
wardrobe. Then they were driven off in Mr. Evans’s carriage. They
stopped first at Evreux to change horses, which had been telegraphed for
in advance; next, at Trouville. Nobody imagined that it could be the
Empress of the French who was travelling in this fashion. Happier than
Louis XVI. at Varennes, the Empress was not recognized anywhere, not
even at the hotel at Trouville, to which Mr. Evans conducted her.

When the Empress and Mme. Lebreton were comfortably installed at the
hotel, Mr. Evans hurried off to the harbour, where he found two yachts
moored. Sir John Burgoyne, the owner of one of the vessels, when first
asked by Mr. Evans if he would take two ladies to England, refused, but
relented when, under a pledge of secrecy, he learnt that it was a
question of saving the Empress.

In this version of the Empress’s flight from the Tuileries no mention is
made of the prominent part played in the episode by the then Austrian
Ambassador (the husband of the still-living Princess Pauline Metternich,
who gave herself the very uncomplimentary sobriquet, the “singe à la
mode”), and the Italian Minister, Chevalier Nigra, who died at Rapolla
in July, 1907. When Nigra’s death was announced, the English newspapers
published a variety of versions of his share in the Empress’s escape,
but I am disposed to think that the vérité vraie is to be found in the
subjoined brief narrative, from the pen of M. Maurice Dumoulin.

The gates of the Tuileries were forced open by the excited, exasperated
crowd. The déchéance had been pronounced on the steps of the Corps
Législatif, and the Republic proclaimed. The Empress must quit. Early on
that terrible Sunday afternoon M. Franceschini Pietri half opened the
door of the Empress’s salon and exclaimed, “Madame, there is only just
time!” Prince Richard Metternich (the Austrian Ambassador) and Chevalier
Nigra were with him. “Make haste, Madame!” said Nigra, who watched from
the windows the progress of the émeute; “make haste!” The Empress
snatched up a waterproof, a hat with a brown veil, and some portraits.

Nigra again exclaimed: “Be quick, Madame! I can hear them; they are
coming up!” The Empress took Metternich’s arm. Nigra walked by her side.
Like a whirlwind the Empress and the Ambassadors, followed by Mme.
Lebreton, M. Conti, and Dr. Conneau, flew across the salles of the
Louvre Museum, making for St.-Germain-l’Auxerrois, where Prince
Metternich’s carriage had been ordered to wait; but the vehicle was not
there, and the Prince went in search of it. Nigra remained alone with
the Empress and Mme. Lebreton. Meanwhile the crowd increased. As the
little group stood in the street, a boy, who was watching them,
recognized the principal figure, and cried out, “Tiens! Voilà
l’Impératrice!” Nigra’s presence of mind saved the situation. “What, you
little scamp!” exclaimed the Ambassador; “you dare to shout ‘Vive la
Prusse!’” Just then, before the bystanders could realize who was in
their midst at the most critical moment in her life, an unoccupied
fiacre jolted by. Securing it, Nigra pushed the Empress and her
companion into the cab, saying: “Get in, Madame. We cannot wait for
Metternich’s brougham.”

Not only was Nigra possessed of great intellectual powers, he was the
handsomest of men, and that fact contributed in no small degree to his
success in diplomacy. Count Cavour had a great friend in the Comtesse de
Circourt, née Anastasie de Klustine, whose salon was the resort of many
political and literary celebrities. She helped to “launch” Nigra, to
whom she wrote: “What strikes one so forcibly is the perfect harmony of
your youth with the maturity of your look. M. D---- says your profile
reminds him of a Greek statue. And he is right.” Nigra took up his abode
at the hotel of the Italian Embassy (formerly the home of the
Piedmontese Legation), at the Rond Point of the Champs-Elysées, and was
soon made much of, for his reputation had preceded him. Cavour had
written to his friends in Paris: “Nigra knows all my thoughts,” and that
alone was sufficient to insure the young diplomatist’s success.

Nigra’s rôle was a very difficult one. He had to conciliate French
diplomatists, to keep “well in” with the Emperor, and to avoid creating
jealousy amongst the foreign Ambassadors and Ministers. Above all, he
had to secure the goodwill of the Empress Eugénie, who had no love for a
Government which was attacking the temporal power of the Pope. But Nigra
succeeded. How he did it is still a mystery. He got on terms of intimacy
with the Emperor and Empress, and even stifled the jealousy of Prince

Nigra was not only a diplomatist and a handsome man--“beau comme
Apollon”--but a poet. One afternoon (it was a soft June day in 1863) the
imperial hostess and some of her guests were trying a Venetian gondola
on the lake at Fontainebleau. The Empress asked the gondolier to sing
something appropriate; but the man declared that Nature had not endowed
him with a voice. But Nigra was there, and Nigra would sing. He warbled
in those beautiful, seductive tones which had struck responsive chords
in the hearts of many before he had bewitched the imperial lady, the
favourite “Gondola,” which he had himself written and submitted to
Prosper Mérimée, who was pleased to approve it. The singer ended with
these daring lines:

     Oh femme, si parfois ton lac paisible doit voir voguant sur tes
     côtes le muet Empéreur, dis-lui que sur les rives de l’Adriatique,
     pauvre, nue, exsangue Venise souffre et languit. Mais elle vit ...
     et elle attend encore. (Oh lady, if sometimes thy peaceful lake
     sees wandering by thy side the dumb Emperor, tell him that, on the
     shores of the Adriatic, poor, naked, bloodless Venice suffers and
     languishes. But she lives ... and she is still expectant.)

It has been even said that it was Nigra’s poetic skill as much as
anything which impelled the “dumb Emperor” to hand over Venetia to the
young Kingdom of Italy. What is more certain is that Nigra made two
powerful friends of the Marquis d’Azeglio and the celebrated Signor
Manzoni by writing, when he was a humble clerk in the Sardinian Foreign
Office, a poem dedicated to d’Azeglio’s daughter on her marriage to
Comte Matteo Ricci, the Marquis at the time being Prime Minister. That
poem gave Nigra a step in the “F.O.,” but had not Cavour made him his
secretary he might have had no opportunity of showing that he could do
something better than pen little lyrics, copy despatches, and warble a
chanson to the Empress’s eyebrow. In his most poetical moments he could
hardly have imagined that a day would come when he would be aiding the
subject of his love-song to escape from the fury of the mob by pushing
her into a common fiacre and refusing to “wait for Metternich’s

In one of his interesting volumes Comte d’Hérisson appears to have
narrated the story of the Empress Eugénie’s voyage from Trouville to
Ryde after her flight from the Tuileries. A letter to Sir John Burgoyne
on the subject brought the French author the following reply:

COWES, ISLE OF WIGHT, _December 27, 1889_.


     I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of
     December 14, and I beg to express my regret that I am obliged to
     reply to it in my own language.

     With reference to the statements published in your “Letters of an
     Aide-de-Camp” concerning the passage of H.M. the Empress Eugénie
     from France to England in 1870, I have never seen the book, but
     only an extract from it, concerning myself, sent to me by a friend,
     and which statements you now tell me were communicated to you by
     Dr. T. W. Evans.

     It is difficult to recall details after the lapse of so many years,
     but my recollection is that Lady Burgoyne and myself were on board
     the Royal Yacht Squadron cutter, _Gazelle_, forty-two tons, in
     Deauville (Trouville) harbour during the first week of September,

     On the morning of September 6 Dr. Evans’s card was given to me; I
     went on deck, and one of two gentlemen introduced himself as Dr.
     Evans. He told me that Her Majesty the Empress was in Deauville,
     and he asked me to take her on board the yacht at once, as she was
     in danger and in distress.

     I acknowledge that at the moment I thought the story so unlikely
     that I did not believe one word of it, and I have no doubt that I
     expressed myself to that effect.

     I asked Dr. Evans to speak to Lady Burgoyne, and she told me that
     Dr. Evans was the well-known American dentist in Paris, and that
     his statement was probably true. There was but one other yacht in
     the harbour, and that was a small schooner, hired by the late Lord
     Charles Hamilton. No American yacht was at or near Trouville, and
     the statements as to Dr. Evans having had to threaten to embark Her
     Majesty the Empress in such a vessel never occurred.

     Deauville Harbour is a tidal basin, and vessels can only enter it
     and leave it at the time of high water; and the only objection I am
     aware of having made was that, as the yacht could only leave the
     harbour at about seven o’clock, night and morning, it would be
     injudicious to attract attention by endeavouring to embark Her
     Majesty the Empress during daylight. Dr. Evans agreed to this
     suggestion, and it was arranged that Her Majesty should embark at
     midnight, which she did, accompanied by Mme. Lebreton, Dr. Evans,
     and a nephew of that gentleman, who left the yacht before we

     I was captain of my own yacht, and I navigated her myself, and to
     the best of my recollection the only conversation I had with the
     Empress during the time she was on board was that early in the
     morning of September 7 I asked Her Majesty’s permission to get the
     yacht under weigh. Once during the night, when there was a great
     noise on deck, owing to a boat washing adrift, Her Majesty sent for
     me to ask if anyone was hurt; and shortly after we anchored off
     Ryde, Isle of Wight. On the following morning I was ordered to
     thank the crew for their exertions during an unusually rough
     passage across the Channel.

     I am much more amused than angry at the account of my tears, fears,
     and entreaties to Dr. Evans to put me on shore. The fact is that
     that eminent practitioner was seasick in my berth from the time we
     left Trouville until just before Her Majesty the Empress landed at
     Ryde, and if he had had a little experience of the sea he would
     have known that anyone who had to stand for many hours at the
     tiller of a small yacht in a gale of wind (and I may mention that
     this was the same night that Her Majesty’s ship _Captain_ was lost)
     might charitably be allowed to wipe the salt-water out of his eyes
     before consulting the chart without being accused of shedding tears
     of fear.

     I wish to add that any story which may have got abroad implying
     what you are pleased to term a “tardy recognition” on the part of
     the Empress of the slight service it was my good fortune to render
     to Her Majesty is absolutely untrue.

     The Empress, on leaving Ryde, went to Hastings for a few days. From
     that place she sent Lady Burgoyne an autograph letter of thanks.
     This was followed by a magnificent jewel, which will ever be a
     cherished heirloom in my family. I may further mention that His
     Majesty the Emperor sent for me to Chislehurst a short time after
     his arrival in England and thanked me in the kindest manner. From
     that day to this Lady Burgoyne and myself have received from the
     Empress the most unvarying kindness and hospitality.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,


Sir John Burgoyne subsequently made the appended extracts from the
logbook of his yacht. With this addition the narrative may, for the
first time, be considered complete:

     The Empress told Lady Burgoyne how shamefully she had been deserted
     by all about her at the Tuileries, and that her very servants had
     pilfered things in her apartments.

     2.45 a.m.--Ran close in shore off Ryde and let go anchor. At 3
     a.m., thanks to smartness of steward and cook, had a capital supper
     on the table, and Her Majesty came and joined us at supper in the
     main cabin.

     The emotions of the previous four-and-twenty hours produced a
     natural reaction, and the Empress was very cheerful at table. Her
     health was drunk in champagne, and she returned thanks in a few
     hopeful words. But now that she was no longer in danger of capture
     or death, and that a hundred new possibilities in life presented
     themselves to her mind, she was more reserved in talking about
     politics. Here might have been a curious study for a psychologist.

     The lady who had come on board, abandoned and almost heart-broken,
     complaining in the bitterness of her heart of those by whom she had
     been forsaken, was transformed once more by hope--and very
     rapidly--into an Empress who looked with some philosophical
     indifference upon the baseness of men.

The writer to whom Sir John Burgoyne gave these extracts from the
_Gazelle’s_ logbook adds, amongst many other piquant details of the
terrible voyage from Deauville to Ryde, that the Empress personally
thanked the crew who had risked death in order to save her life, and
presented them with five pounds.

A story which is told of Louis XVIII., in somewhat analogous
circumstances, may furnish a pendant to the above. The King, being
compelled to evacuate Courland, engaged the Captain of a Danish merchant
ship to convey him and his suite to Prussia. The Captain had a cargo for
the Baltic, but, anticipating a handsome reward, he consented to change
his course. For this service the King gave the skipper a gold watch and
a written promise that, if he regained his throne, he would liberally
recompense the Dane. As the Captain did not land his merchandise in
time, it could not be disposed of, and the consignees made him pay them
heavy damages, with the result that the poor man was ruined. After the
King’s restoration the promissory note was presented to His Majesty by
the Danish Minister at Paris. Louis XVIII. did not shirk his liability,
but handed to the diplomatist what he considered a suitable reward for
the Danish Captain who had rendered this service--fifty napoleons and
the Cross of the Lily!

If it was an American citizen who, at no little risk, escorted the
Empress from Paris to Deauville, it is well to remember that it was a
British officer who really saved and brought her to our shores.
Sir John Burgoyne, Bart., entered the army in 1850, and retired
(Lieutenant-Colonel) from the Grenadier Guards in 1861. Eton should be
very proud of its gallant son. Sir John resides at Sutton Park, Sandy,
Bedfordshire, and is widely known in clubland as a member of the
Carlton, the Travellers’, and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes).

There is yet another version of the Empress’s escape from Paris--that
which Her Majesty related at Chislehurst to Lord Ronald
Sutherland-Gower, who very kindly allows it to appear here:

     How well she described the hurried flight through the Palace and
     the galleries of the Louvre, followed by only two or three
     attendants; the respect with which the guardians of the galleries
     received her, and their emotion at seeing her almost a deserted
     fugitive in the Palace of which she had been so lately the idol;
     her great danger of being recognized while alone with Mme. Lebreton
     in the Rue de Rivoli, where for hours they had to remain, the
     street being blocked with a mob of mobiles and the rabble forcing
     their way to the Hôtel de Ville to proclaim the Republic; and
     another terrible long period of suspense when, at some station near
     Paris, her only safety from detection while waiting hours for a
     train was a newspaper that saved her from recognition and probably

     She said such a death as that had terrors for her which, could she
     have remained and faced the dangers in the Palace, she would not
     have felt; and, indeed, it made one shudder to think what would
     have happened had that mob guessed who one of the two ladies in
     black was in the cab in the roaring street that bright September
     day. I believe the Empress has regretted ever since having left the
     Tuileries, and she had almost to be forced to leave the Palace. She
     had the courage and the will to stand alone against the mob, but
     then her fate might have been that of Hypatia.

In the course of the story the Empress became somewhat excited and
brushed off the table an alabaster bust of Marie Antoinette, which she
had given Lord Ronald. He picked it up, minus its head!

No one has hitherto told us the precise time at which the Empress
quitted the Tuileries on Sunday, September 4, 1870.

She actually left the Palace at 1.30 in the afternoon by the Louvre

Towards four o’clock all the servants left, the National Guard having
previously taken possession of the Palace.

These facts are recorded in his register[103] by M. J. Maillard, chef du
service de l’argenterie, who records that the troops did not give him
time to “put things in their places.” He did not fail to observe that
the National Guard had “written everywhere” the simple words, “Death to
the thieves.” It was the parting shot of the gallant “Nationals,” whose
commander was that modern Bayard, General Trochu.

PALAIS DES TUILERIES, _Septembre 4, 1870_.

     Départ de S.M. l’Impératrice à une heure et demie par le Palais du

     Départ de tout le personnel du service vers quatre heures de
     l’après-midi, après l’occupation du Palais des Tuileries par la
     garde nationale. Ils ont écrit partout, _Mort aux voleurs._ Je ne
     pas pu faire remettre le matériel en place--l’on ne m’en a pas
     donné le temps.


     [Extract from the register kept by M. Maillard, who had charge of
     the silver.]

Baron Imbert de Saint-Amand holds that the Empress would have had less
prestige if the Empire had not been overthrown. “The world is most
interested, not in the châtelaine of the Tuileries, not the Juno
reigning over an Olympus of Emperors and Kings at the Exhibition of
1867, but in the mother who weeps and prays in Zululand on the spot
where her son had fallen after fighting like a young lion. What
posterity will prefer to contemplate on the brow of the Empress Eugénie
is not a crown of Empire, but a crown of thorns.”

“The Empress’s conduct after Sedan,” said an ex-Minister of the Empire,
“was heroic. It is impossible to conceive a nobler courage than she
showed on September 4, 1870. When she speaks of the Empire or the
Emperor it is always with regret that the aims of Imperial institutions
had been misrepresented and that the Emperor was misunderstood. On one
occasion she observed that ‘English journalists would not understand the
democratic basis of the Empire. The Empire wanted to give a direct voice
in the government to all Frenchmen, whereas other régimes would give a
monopoly of power to the bourgeoisie, and make the people pay the taxes
and remain voiceless. If turbulent Frenchmen had only the calm in
political matters of the English public!’”

Immediately after the overthrow of the Empire an amazing plot was
concocted to defraud the Empress. It was alleged that Her Majesty had
abstracted French Crown jewels valued at 6,650,000 francs (£266,000),
and had sent them by one Manuel Perez to her mother at Madrid.

M. Franceschini Pietri says:

     Swindlers and exploiteurs began in 1870-71 to benefit by our
     troubles and grief, and some of them went so far as to produce
     forged autograph letters of the Empress Eugénie. I have held those
     letters in my hand, and I assure you that the imitation was
     marvellous. The object was invariably the same--to attract silly
     people or thieves by telling them of the existence of secret
     treasure, and asking them to advance money towards the expense of
     discovering it, and dividing it among those who had found money for
     making the search. As you will see, it was an old and well-known
     trick, but it was sometimes so well carried out that many persons
     fell into the trap.

     I remember the case of a peasant of Metz, who, attracted by the
     prospect of gain, sent 3,000 francs to a person from whom he had
     heard on the subject, and waited a long time in anticipation of
     news concerning the fortune which was promised to him. Tired of the
     delay, he had the effrontery to come to Chislehurst and demand to
     be reimbursed the 3,000 francs which he had invested! You can
     imagine that he was sent away without the least consolation. But
     that is only one out of a hundred cases. All who believed in the
     existence of a secret treasure were not dishonest people; many of
     them, after receiving mysterious letters on the subject, informed
     the Empress Eugénie of what had occurred.

     To give you an idea of the extent of this swindling affair, and of
     the amount of information which we received at Chislehurst, I may
     tell you that we had printed forms to answer the communications,
     and put an advertisement in the _Times_ warning the public to be on
     their guard against these attempts to obtain their money.

     It may be pointed out that many of these letters inviting the
     credulous to “bite” were dated from the gaol at Madrid, and that
     Spain supplied the strongest contingent of these “Imperial
     treasure” swindlers. They spread themselves over all Europe--Italy,
     France, England, Portugal, and other countries. The story received
     so much credence in Portugal that the King sent one of his
     Ministers to Chislehurst to confer with the Empress Eugénie on the
     subject! As you see, it became a Cabinet affair.

     Time passed, and these attempts at swindling decreased; but we
     occasionally get wind of timid efforts in the same direction, and
     doubtless the photograph which you have shown me comes from the
     same quarter as the previous letters.[104]



Between December 23, 1870, and January 25, 1871, a minute record was
made, by order of the new Government, of all the objects found in the
imperial apartments at the Tuileries, and admittedly belonging to
Napoleon III., the Empress Eugénie, and the Prince Imperial. The list
was most carefully drawn up by the Delegates of the Commission of
Liquidation of the former Civil List and Private Domain of their
Majesties, and when it was completed everything was transferred to and
put under seals in a room on the fifth floor of the Pavilion of

Not one of this heap of cherished articles was of any particular
intrinsic or artistic value, yet it was this fact which gave, and gives,
them their charm. It is not the State décor, seen and known by all, that
we can reconstitute with the aid of these multifarious knick-knacks, but
they form the milieu intime, comprising a thousand familiar objects, a
thousand personal souvenirs, in the midst of which the occupants of the
Tuileries lived their daily life. It is more than interesting or curious
to handle these old-fashioned bibelots; it is often touching, even

In the Emperor’s apartments were an eagle (from a flag) in gilded
bronze, embraced by Napoleon I. when he took farewell of Fontainebleau;
a hand of the Empress Eugénie in white marble; a portfolio of music
(containing the “Marche des Impériaux,” from the tragedy of “Jules
César”), by Hary de Bülow; a meerschaum pipe, representing Napoleon III.
and the Prince Imperial; a silver fountain, the gift of Queen Pomaré to
the Emperor; a dagger, with damascened blade, given to him by his
mother-in-law, the Comtesse de Montijo; a walking-stick, made of a
bulrush stalk; a crutch, in rock-crystal, ornamented with fine stones,
the Empress Catherine of Russia’s present to Frederick II.; a tin box,
containing water from the Jordan; a candle used at the Prince Imperial’s
first Communion; a black leather case, containing the Emperor’s costume
of Knight of the Garter; a man’s head, in crayons, signed “Joséphine”; a
plan in relief of the château of Ham (the prison of Napoleon III. for
six years); a photograph of the Prince Imperial in his cradle; boxes,
cases of medals, addresses, diplomas, vases, cups, tea and coffee
services; a thousand articles which have gone out of fashion, in all
styles; albums of photographs and engravings, portraits of Sovereigns,
hundreds of paper-weights, inkstands, and wafer-boxes; a collection of
French and foreign military models in coloured plaster--amongst them two
Prussian soldiers, one Bavarian, two Würtemburgers, and a White
Cuirassier; figures of a merchant, a woman, five soldiers and
peasants--Russian; and two mahogany boxes containing the plaques and
decorations of Napoleon III., with the stern official notification,
opposite the French ones, “Two plaques and decorations missing--taken
away by the Emperor.”

Among the numerous “Souvenirs intimes de Napoléon I. et de sa famille”
are a Prayer-Book (“paroissien”) which belonged to Mme. Mère,[106] and a
black snuff-box with her portrait, enclosing some locks of hair of her
daughter, Princesse Pauline; a gold folding lorgnette, which belonged to
the Duc de Reichstadt; a packet containing handkerchiefs from the
death-bed of Queen Hortense, and a packet of handkerchiefs which
belonged to Napoleon I.; a gold ring containing a tooth of Michel
Montaigne, and one of Goethe’s visiting-cards; the grey capote of
Marengo, and the scarf worn by Napoleon I. at the battle of the
Pyramids; a morocco blotting-pad, ornamented with a painting under glass
representing a Spanish bandit, painted by Queen Hortense; a blue velvet
sabretache, embroidered in gold, the gift of Prince Eugène; two gold
epaulettes; the garniture of buttons, grenades, and plaques; the grey
capote worn by the Emperor at the battle of Waterloo; a quantity of
breloques, bibelots, snuff-boxes, objects in hair, miniatures, porcelain
and crystal ornaments, bonbonnières, pocket-knives, etc.

In the Empress Eugénie’s apartments were found Perrault’s stories, a
Spanish edition of “Paradise Lost,” an “Imitation de Jésus-Christ,” the
“Mémorial de Saint-Hélène,” and the “Chansons Populaires du Piémont”;
photographs of the Shah of Persia, Mme. Carette (the Empress’s “reader”
for many years, and a reliable chronicler of Second Empire days), the
Princesse de Metternich, the daughters of the Duchesse d’Albe (the
Empress’s nieces), the Royal Family of Spain, the Sultan Abd-el-Kader,
and Princesse Bacciochi; a miniature of the Prince Imperial and his
“guardian angel,” in a velvet frame; an egg, on which is painted the
battle of Malakoff; two dumb-bells, in granite, with silver handles; one
of Orsini’s bombs, seized on the memorable January 14, 1858, the date of
the “attempt” at the opera; two pairs of satin shoes, which belonged to
Queen Hortense and the Empress Joséphine; and the hat worn by Napoleon
III. on the night of his attempted assassination by Orsini.

In the Prince Imperial’s apartments were statuettes of the Virgin and
the Infant Jesus, the dome of the Invalides in painted cardboard,
stuffed birds, geographical games, a three-masted vessel in a glass
case; a reliquary, containing relics of St. Eugénie and the brassard
worn by the “little Prince” at his first Communion; a garden rake and
two hoes, in steel; three summer hats, in white silk, and two black
ones; a cantata dedicated to the Prince by Pellegrini; trophies of the
imperial hunts at Fontainebleau and Compiègne; and the Prince’s Orders
and decorations.

There were chairs and fauteuils, settees (poufs) in tapestry and red
satin, with silk fringe; étagères in black wood and bronze; a prie-Dieu
in carved oak, covered with blue velvet; tables, with feet of bamboo,
covered with tapestry and adorned with fringe; a carved fire-screen in
gilded wood; and many other objects.

Finally, there were several boxes of cigars (“regalias” and “Londres”)
and “Imperial” cigarettes (the Emperor was a great smoker of these),
which were sent by the Delegates of the Commission of Liquidation, by
order of M. Picard, to M. Jules Simon, at the Ministry of Public
Instruction, and sold for the benefit of the wounded soldiers. Forty
years have flown since France was weighed down by the disasters, but the
past appears so recent that, in stirring its ashes, we fancy them still
warm, still living; neither the tears nor the blood poured upon the
souvenirs of so many misfortunes have yet made them cold.



Although the name of the Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau is a very familiar
one, it seems desirable to put on record some details of her family
history, if only in order to explain what might otherwise appear
somewhat of a mystery--the selection by Napoleon III. of this beautiful
and gifted woman as his secret political emissary, both during and, to a
certain extent, after his six months’ captivity at Wilhelmshöhe.

She is the daughter of that Prince de Chimay who was the head of the
younger branch of the Riquet-Caramans; she is, consequently, the
granddaughter of Mme. Tallien, whom the “Directory” named “Notre Dame de
Bon-Secours.” Mme. Tallien was the idol of Barras; she was the divinity
of the Revolutionary epoch, the worshipped of France. Many
people speak of the Chimay family as if it were Flemish. It is
Franco-Austrian-Belgian, and had its origin in Gille Paul Riquet, a
worthy bourgeois of Béziers--the man who founded the Languedoc Canal,
and was ennobled by letters patent, granted by Louis XIV., in 1666. The
house of De Mercy has been thrice ennobled, receiving from three
different heads of State the coronet which it has worn proudly and with
dignity. The actual head of the house in 1871 was Charles François
Joseph, whose two sons married the Comtesse de Caraman (Marie Louise de
Riquet) and Mlle. Alix de Choiseul-Praslin; his two daughters became the
Comtesse d’Oultremont and the Duchesse d’Harcourt.

The Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau was, then, born Comtesse de
Caraman-Chimay. It has been said of her that, “like Cleopatra, she would
have thrown pearls into the goblet or her heart out of window, according
to the caprice of the moment.” When she made her appearance in Paris the
Second Empire was at its zenith; the world’s gaze was riveted upon it.
All was gaiety and sunshine. It was a magnificent Court, that of the
Tuileries in the reign of Napoleon III. and his consort. Only the
Cassandras of the period went about predicting, and rightly, that it
would not last.

The Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau was a contemporary of some very
celebrated women whose names, at least, are still remembered. There were
notably the Princesse de Sagan, the Duchesse de Mouchy, the Comtesse
Edmond de Pourtalès, and the Marquise de Galliffet, wife of that dashing
cavalryman of whom so many amusing stories are told.[107] Our Comtesse
shone at the head of the famous “Décameron,” and was counted the most
beautiful of the lovely group. They wittily said of her that her
grandmother was a goddess, her mother a queen, and she herself a
“moderne.” For the first there was Olympus, for the second a throne, for
the third the little English cart, which, said one of her sprightly
friends, “takes to the Allée des Acacias every morning our mondaines

As already hinted, the young Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau made a
sensation in Paris society--in the Faubourg as well as at the Tuileries,
at Compiègne, and at St. Cloud. The Empress Eugénie admitted her into
close friendship. The Emperor paid her his most respectful homage. If a
particularly delicate mission had to be undertaken, who so fit to carry
it out as this charming woman? We need not wonder, then, that Napoleon
III., in the hour of his despair, appealed to her devotion, and charged
her to go, as his ambassadress, “séduire le vainqueur et tenter de
sauver la France.” Many women envied the Comtesse her mission to Berlin,
foredoomed to failure as it was.

The Comtesse was renowned for her jewellery. In diamonds she outshone
the Empress; her pearls were the finest in the world; she possessed the
family jewels both of the Chimays and the De Mercys. After the war she
devoted herself to study. She shines as a musician, in languages she is
proficient, she paints miniatures à merveille, and she has always been a

Napoleon III. had been in captivity at Wilhelmshöhe about five months
when he began an active correspondence with the Comtesse de
Mercy-Argenteau, who, on at least one memorable occasion, acted as the
intermediary between the dethroned monarch and the late Emperor William.
The letters addressed to the Comtesse by the Emperor Napoleon are
distinguished by their poignant interest and frank outspokenness; they
are, indeed, a revelation of the unhappy man’s innermost thoughts, his
aspirations, his fears, and, finally, his apparent abandonment of hope,
although we know that, later, his ideas underwent a great change.

Not the least curious feature of the correspondence given to the world
in 1906 through the medium of an important German review, the _Verlagen
and Klasing Monatshefte_, is the fact that we hear for the first time of
the Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau as figuring prominently in the
Bonapartist propaganda of the autumn of 1870, throughout 1871, and up to
September, 1872, the Emperor’s final letter, surcharged with gloom,
bearing date, Chislehurst, September 9.[108] There is no doubt about
their authenticity, for, with one or two exceptions, the epistles are
contained in their original envelopes, properly stamped, and bear the
postmarks “Cassel” (Wilhelmshöhe) and “Terwagne” (near which Belgian
town the château of the Mercy-Argenteaus is situated).

       *       *       *       *       *

The first letter of the series was written to the Comtesse from the
Tuileries, and is a graceful reference to the Count’s naturalization.

_When Napoleon III. was at the Tuileries._

_November 7, 1869._


     It is with pleasure that I announce to you that yesterday I signed
     the Decree which gives to your husband the rights of
     naturalization. I congratulate myself upon having one Frenchman and
     one Frenchwoman more.

     Believe, madame, in my affectionate and devoted sentiments.


_Written at Wilhelmshöhe._

WILHELMSHÖHE, _February 4, 1871_.


     The attachment to me of which you give evidence touches me deeply,
     and causes me to answer the questions which you have put to me with
     all the frankness inspired by your high-minded sentiments.

     The state of France is deplorable, and I do not see how it can be
     improved unless the Emperor of Germany displays that chivalrous
     mind which everybody knows him to possess. To-day we are completely
     vanquished; the interests of Germany, however, are mingled with
     ours. To re-establish order, to suppress the revolutionary spirit,
     to re-create the prosperity which alone can enable us to pay the
     cost of the war and assure peace--these are the results which must
     be desired in both countries.

     Unfortunately, the convocation of the National Assembly makes all
     that very difficult, for that Assembly, if it makes peace, will be
     incapable of establishing a Government which can execute the
     conditions, and if it does not do so the country will be a prey to
     new convulsions.

     If I were in the place of the Emperor and King, and the Assembly
     had accepted peace, I would demand that the people should be
     consulted for establishing a Government sufficiently strong to
     fulfil the engagements entered into. If, on the contrary, the
     Assembly refused to make peace, I would enter Paris at the head of
     my army; I would scatter the demagogues who have usurped power; I
     would decline to treat with any but the legitimate Government; I
     would propose to that Government a less onerous peace than that
     offered to the Assembly, and an alliance based upon an equitable
     appreciation of the interests of both countries.

     It remains to consider what would be the conditions of such a peace
     and such an alliance. They are not easy to divine; but if the two
     were in accord, doubtless a favourable solution would be arrived
     at, for there are compensations when one is, like the King of
     Prussia, the arbiter of Europe.

     All these ideas have, I believe, been put before Comte de Bismarck,
     and his high-mindedness has led him to grasp them; but events often
     upset plans, and force even great statesmen to bend under the yoke
     of stern necessity. No glory is lacking the Emperor and King but
     that of making a great peace. I mean a peace which, instead of
     leaving in its wake ruin, despair, and anarchy, would display the
     greatness of his character and the depth of his political views.

     You see, madame, that I have permitted myself to tell you all my
     thoughts. I hope you will forgive me for this long letter, but you
     know how much pleasure it affords me to talk to you.

     Pray say everything good on my part to your husband, and believe in
     the sentiments of high esteem and sincere and affectionate
     friendship which I have for you.


_Napoleon III. sends a Letter to the Emperor William I. by the

WILHELMSHÖHE, _February 6, 1871_.


     The charming letter which you have written to me emboldens me to
     tell you that I think you may perhaps be able to do me a great
     service; but I hardly dare express here all that I think. It is a
     question, like the dove, of carrying a message of peace.


After the receipt of this letter the Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau
journeyed to Wilhelmshöhe, where the illustrious captive gave her verbal
instructions and a letter addressed to the Emperor William. She crossed
the German lines under an assumed name, accompanied only by her maid,
saw Count Bismarck, through him obtained an audience of the Kaiser, and
handed to the Kaiser Napoleon’s autograph letter. These proceedings were
barren of result. Napoleon III. then sent the Comtesse the following

“_My Gratitude is Very Sincere._”

WILHELMSHÖHE, _February 23, 1871_.


     I learn with great pleasure of your arrival, and I am happy to
     think that your little daughter is quite well again. Need I tell
     you of the sweet remembrances and regrets that your visit has left?
     I really do not know how to recognize such loyal and disinterested
     devotion as yours; but you know at least that my gratitude is very
     sincere. I await impatiently news from the quarter to which you
     have been. I often fear lest people should accept that which is put
     before them without thinking of the future. The eagerness with
     which the neutrals have recognized the sovereignty of M. Thiers is
     a proof of the little dignity which animates the foreign Courts.

     Accept, madame, the new assurance of my sincere and affectionate


“_Writing to Bismarck Useless._”

WILHELMSHÖHE, _February 25, 1871_.


     I send you the line that you wanted. It is a pale reflex of my
     sentiments towards you. It is very good of you to think of writing
     to M. de B---- [Bismarck], but I believe it would be useless. In
     the first place, I have asked M. de F---- to do so, and he has
     left; then, again, it is too late now to enable me to profit by it.
     Things have taken a bad turn for me. We must put up with the
     d’Orléans, who have numerous partisans amongst the middle classes;
     and then I cannot be pardoned for having been served so badly and
     so unfortunately.

     Accept, dear Comtesse, etc.


“_I admit we were the Aggressors._”

WILHELMSHÖHE, _March 2, 1871_.


     How can one fail to be discouraged in presence of the conditions of
     peace imposed upon France? I admit that we were the aggressors; I
     admit that we were defeated, and that, therefore, we were compelled
     to pay the cost of the war or abandon part of our territory; but to
     condemn us to make both sacrifices is very hard. Where is the
     Government which will be able to stand with a material and moral
     burden like that upon its shoulders? With such conditions it is not
     a peace which the Emperor of Germany has concluded--it is to kill
     us; instead of re-establishing peace, it will sow hatred and
     distrust in the future. Is this a good plan, even for Germany? I
     do not think so. The state of civilization in which Europe finds
     itself demands that the nations bind themselves together by a crowd
     of common interests which would make the ruin of one react upon all
     the others.

     The work of France stopped for several years, thirty-eight millions
     of people delivered up to anarchy, and having in their hearts only
     a desire for vengeance--this is to keep a wound open in one of the
     principal members of the social body. If the Emperor of Germany and
     M. de Bismarck had thoroughly reflected upon the state of Europe;
     if, instead of allowing themselves to be dazzled by the
     extraordinary success which they have obtained, they had desired to
     put an end to revolutions and to war, they had declared that as
     long as France had no stable, and consequently liberal, Government,
     they would only sanction a suspension of hostilities in the nature
     of a truce, and would take steps to put themselves in a more
     favourable military position in case the struggle should
     recommence, but as soon as there was a Government based upon law
     and accepted by the whole nation they would feel more certain of
     peace in the future than they could be by holding dissatisfied
     departments, detached from a nation profoundly ... that would have
     been de la grande politique; the hatred against Germany would have
     disappeared as though by magic, peace would have been assured for
     many years, there would have been renewed confidence, there would
     have been a revival of commercial affairs, and the Emperor of
     Germany would have obtained a glory far greater than he will
     acquire by the possession of Metz and Strasburg.

     I am writing to you as if you were my Minister for Foreign Affairs;
     but I find it a consolation, in the midst of the preoccupations
     which beset me, to open my heart to you.

     Accept, etc.



Two short letters of no particular importance follow, and then comes
this very brusque telegram from Bismarck to the Comtesse, dated Berlin,
March 27, 1871:

_To the Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau, Château of Ochain, near Terwagne,

     Your allusions to the conditions of peace surprise me, and prevent
     me from replying to your letter. It is absolutely impossible.



“_The Future is Very Dark._”

That telegram probably led to the Emperor writing to the Comtesse as
follows, a few days after his arrival in England from Wilhelmshöhe:

CHISLEHURST, _April 1, 1871_.


     I thank you for all that you have written and done. No one could
     have acted with more intelligence and heart. Unfortunately, we are
     dealing with pitiless people. We must wait for the second answer,
     but I do not think it will be better than the first. I believe it
     would be completely useless to take any kind of step respecting
     Marshal M. [MacMahon] or others. The time has not yet come for
     taking any initiative whatsoever as regards internal affairs. I
     thank you, nevertheless, for the intention. The future is very
     dark, and one must leave Providence to guide the will of men. I am
     very grateful for your unfailing devotion, and I again assure you
     of my affectionate friendship.


“_I have not Forgotten You._”

There is a silence of nearly three months. The Emperor was very ill, and
unable to write to the Comtesse between April and June. In the subjoined
letter he explains why he had not written:

CAMDEN PLACE, _June 14, 1871_.


     What a long time it is since I wrote to you! Perhaps you think I
     have forgotten you, but it is not so. I have been suffering so long
     that it was impossible for me to write. To-day I am, happily, well
     again. I will not speak of what has happened since we met. Many of
     the plans have come to naught; but I do not regret it. Each thing
     must come at its own time, and the favourable movement which has
     been spontaneously produced in France ought to make us hopeful for
     the future, even if it is hopeless to charge oneself with the
     destinies of so frivolous a people as the French.

     Accept, my dear Comtesse, the assurance of my affectionate


_The Trap laid for the Comtesse._

CHISLEHURST, _December 9, 1871_.


     Your amiable letter makes me look at the coming year in brighter
     colours. I have happily convinced myself that your long silence was
     the result of chance, and was not caused by forgetfulness. I am
     indignant at what you tell me about the trap which was laid for you
     at Brussels. It is sad to see the police have recourse to such
     devices. I am much touched by the offers of service made by you,
     but for the moment one can only await events, and endeavour by
     propaganda to obtain a plébiscite and better election results.

     Accept, etc.


_The Emperor’s Final Letters: “Clouds cover the Horizon.”_

On May 5, 1872, the Emperor wrote thanking the Comtesse for sending
news. His Majesty added:

     I will not speak to you about politics, for it is sad to see what
     is happening; but there are instances of devotion which make one
     forget the ingratitude of some and the wickedness of others.

Under date June 2, 1872, the Emperor wrote to his fair correspondent
condoling with her upon the death of a relative. The last letter is
dated September 9, 1872, just four months prior to the Emperor’s death.
He again expresses his sympathy at her bereavement, and concludes:

     The future appears to me very uncertain. Clouds cover the horizon,
     and one can hardly perceive the blue sky.

_From the Emperor’s Secretary (M. Pietri) to the Comtesse._



     I have just received the reply to the telegram which I had the
     honour to address to you at Liége, and I hasten to forward the
     letter that the Emperor has directed me to send to you, as to which
     I congratulate myself upon not having put an incorrect address.

     The Emperor is to-day entirely recovered. He has resumed his
     occupations and his usual life. He has been cruelly pained by all
     the evils which overwhelm our unfortunate country, and of which we
     cannot yet see the end.

     We have before our eyes only the material ruins of Paris. They have
     turned our looks away from the ruins of all France, and from the
     appalling situation which must result from the surrender of Alsace
     and Lorraine and the occupation of Metz by the Prussians.

     At Versailles they accuse us of conspiracy. They are wrong, and
     they must know well that it is the contrary. We have only one way
     of usefully conspiring--that is, to wait; for time will conspire
     for us, and will help Truth to come out of the well in which they
     have kept her enclosed, while those standing upon the lid preach
     error and lies. They will get tired, and then she [Truth] will
     appear. Already she begins to see daylight. It is upon her that we
     must count, in not adding to the evils of the country intrigues
     which could only aggravate them. We must content ourselves with
     following what is done at Versailles.

     Accept, Madame la Comtesse, etc.




Besides the epistles addressed by Napoleon III. to the late Comtesse de
Mercy-Argenteau, many interesting letters from the imperial pen are
scattered about in the vivid pages of Comte d’Hérisson, M. Pierre de
Lano, and other French authors. Those now for the first time translated
for this work from Comte d’Hérisson’s “Le Prince Impérial” and M. Pierre
de Lano’s “L’Impératrice” will be fresh to English readers, who will
obtain from their perusal a better insight into the character of
Napoleon III. than they previously possessed.

_Napoleon III. and the Press._

For the first few days after his arrival, early in September, at
Wilhelmshöhe, where he remained until the following March, the fallen
Emperor seemed to be resigned to his fate. In reply to one of his
friends, who had written to him asking to be informed of his plans, the
Emperor wrote:

WILHELMSHÖHE, _September 28, 1870_.

     I thank you for your letter, which has given me great pleasure. The
     sentiments which you express do not surprise me, for I have always
     reckoned on your friendship. In the actual state of affairs I
     believe there is nothing to be done unless it be to correct,
     through the Press, erroneous statements, and to act as much as
     possible upon public opinion. Conti,[109] whom perhaps you have
     seen at Brussels (his address is 2, Place du Trône), is very useful
     to me in this respect. May God grant that the siege of Paris be
     soon finished, for I dread all kinds of excesses in the country!


Against the advice of many staunch friends of the Emperor, in November,
1870, it was determined to make an attempt to replace Napoleon III. on
the throne, and that the movement should be directed by the Emperor and
Empress. The Imperialists regarded the co-operation of General
Changarnier as indispensable, and the Emperor (and, later, the Empress)
worked to this end. General Fleury, furnished with private instructions
by the Emperor himself, went to Brussels and had an interview with
Changarnier, who, after much wavering, finally declined to take part in
the restoration plot. The Emperor put himself directly en rapport with
Changarnier by writing to General Fleury the subjoined letter, which
shows the ignorance in which Napoleon III. was kept respecting the
events of the day:

_Napoleon III., General Changarnier, and “L’Indépendance Belge.”_

WILHELMSHÖHE, _November 16, 1870_.

     ... At Brussels you will see more people and become acquainted with
     many things of which we here are ignorant. I should therefore much
     like you from time to time to send me your impressions of what you
     hear talked about, and what you hope or fear for the future. They
     tell me you often see our enemies. If it is to appease them, all
     the better; but I fear their evil influence. Already Bourbaki and
     Maréchal Canrobert have, I fear, been circumvented by them. If you
     see General Changarnier, get him to write a word to the papers in
     favour of Bazaine. I have already advised him to do so, but he
     replied that the editor of “l’Indépendance Belge” did not insert
     his letter. Upon Changarnier asking the reason of its
     non-appearance, he was told that they could not publish it except
     by accompanying it with some remarks very detrimental to Bazaine;
     whereupon Changarnier withdrew his letter. I am sorry for this,
     because Changarnier’s words would have made a great noise, whilst
     the attacks of the journalist would have passed unnoticed. Try to
     get Changarnier to change his mind.


“_Arrange an Interview with Changarnier._”

A few weeks later the Emperor wrote to Fleury on the same subject, but
more pressingly, as follows:

W. [WILHELMSHÖHE], _December 11, 1870_.

     This letter will be handed to you by M. Levert, formerly Préfet of
     Marseilles, a very devoted and very distinguished man. He should
     talk to you about the steps to take respecting General Changarnier
     to maintain him in my cause. I beg you to arrange that he may have
     an interview with the General.


“_Keep Changarnier well disposed._”

General Changarnier weakened daily in view of the solicitations of which
he was the object at Brussels, and yet another letter to Fleury from the
Emperor at Wilhelmshöhe showed how necessary for the success of their
plans did the Bonapartist party regard the General’s intervention and

[WILHELMSHÖHE], _December 23, 1870_.

     I thank you for the good relations that you maintain with General
     Changarnier. It is necessary to keep him well disposed by telling
     him that, when the moment comes, I shall have recourse to his
     advice. According to what they tell me in letters, Claremont
     [British Military Attaché] said Paris cannot hold out more than
     three weeks. But what will happen then? The attitude of certain
     French officers in Germany is very bad; but they are “worked” by
     emissaries of several colours.


“_Everybody desires Peace._”

All endeavours to secure the active assistance of General Changarnier
failed. On January 4, 1871, the Emperor wrote from Wilhelmshöhe:

     Unfortunately, you are not better informed at Brussels than we are
     here respecting future events. One does not know what to believe
     owing to the diversity of the opinions on the subject of the
     probable resistance of Paris. Everybody desires peace, but nobody
     knows how it can be brought about.


_The Emperor to Sir John Burgoyne, “The English Moltke.”_

Immediately after the fall of Metz, General Sir John M. Burgoyne, Bart.,
who had taken part in the Crimean campaign, and had brought the Empress
to Ryde, wrote to Napoleon III. in sympathetic terms, and expressed his
opinion of the causes which had led to the French reverses. The Emperor
replied as under:

WILHELMSHÖHE, _October 29, 1870_.


     I have received your letter, which has given me the greatest
     pleasure, because it is a touching proof of your sympathy for me,
     and also because your name recalls to me the happy and glorious
     time when our two armies fought together for the same cause. You,
     who are the English Moltke, will have understood that our disasters
     arose from the circumstance that the Prussians were ready before
     us, and that, so to speak, they surprised us _en flagrant délit_ of

     The offensive became impossible for me. I resolved to take the
     defensive, but, prevented by political considerations, the march in
     retreat was stopped, and then became impossible. Returned to
     Châlons, I wished to lead to Paris the last army which remained to
     us; but again political complications forced us to make that most
     imprudent and least strategical march which finished with the
     disaster at Sedan. Such, in a few words, was the disastrous
     campaign of 1870. I have given you these explanations because I
     value your esteem.



“_Let us hope for Happier Days._”

The five following letters appeared for the first time in “La Revue”
(Paris) in October and December, 1908, and were contributed by M.
Seymour de Ricci, who is in possession of 297 letters, hitherto
unpublished, addressed by the Emperor to Mme. Cornu, who visited
Chislehurst in 1871. The whole of this interesting correspondence will
be published by M. de Ricci.

WILHELMSHÖHE, _December 14, 1870_.


     You cannot doubt the pain which I have felt upon learning of the
     death of your husband. You know the great friendship which I had
     for him for so many years. I fully share all your emotions, and
     wish to know how you are getting on in the midst of the war which
     is surrounding you. I will not refer to my troubles; it is those of
     France which overwhelm me most.

     The Empress and the Prince are well--this is a great consolation to

     Let us hope for happier days, and believe always, my dear Hortense,
     in my sincere friendship.


“_I am engaged upon a Work which will explain Many Things._”

CHISLEHURST, _January 14, 1872_.


     It is always with pleasure that I hear from you, for the friendship
     which binds us is of such long standing that absence and
     misfortunes cannot weaken it.

     I was very happy also to see you once more, and I hope you will
     return to us this summer. I see by your letter that you have not
     been to Italy, as you had proposed to do. Have you not been able
     to sell your property? We often have visitors from France, who are
     the echo of what is happening in our unhappy country.

     I am engaged upon a work which will explain many things. It will
     not be amusing, but it will contain the truth.

     Receive, my dear Madame Cornu, the assurance of my sincere

     The Empress wrote you two letters from Spain. Did you get them? She
     sends a thousand amiable things to you, as does the Prince.


“_The Empress has been suffering._”

CHISLEHURST, _May 5, 1872_.


     I take advantage of a post to tell you that the Empress has been
     suffering very much, but that she has now recovered, and that the
     Prince and I are quite well.

     I received your letter of the 30th [of April], but have only time
     to thank you for it in the Empress’s name, and to renew the
     assurance of my sincere friendship.


“_I am Responsible to the Country._”

Marshal Baraguay d’Hilliers presided over a Council of Inquiry appointed
to investigate the circumstances in which fortresses capitulated and
battalions surrendered to the invaders. It was decided that the whole
blame for the disasters at Sedan rested with Napoleon III., “a culprit
beyond reach of the national vengeance,” as he was residing at
Chislehurst. The Exile defended himself in this letter, which he
addressed to the Generals who had served under him at Sedan:



     I am responsible to the country, and I can accept no other judgment
     but that of the nation regularly consulted. Nor is it for me to
     pass an opinion on the report of the Commission on the capitulation
     of Sedan. I shall only remind the principal witnesses of the
     capitulation of the critical position in which we found ourselves.
     The army commanded by the Duc de Magenta nobly did its duty, and
     fought heroically against an enemy of twice its numbers. When
     driven back to the walls of the town, and into the town itself,
     14,000 dead and wounded covered the field of battle, and I saw that
     to contest the position any longer was an act of desperation. The
     honour of the army having been saved by the bravery which had been
     displayed, I then exercised my Sovereign right, and gave orders to
     unfurl a flag of truce. I claim the entire responsibility of that
     act. The immolation of 60,000 men could not have saved France, and
     the sublime devotion of her chiefs and soldiers would have been
     uselessly sacrificed. I obeyed a cruel, but inexorable, fate. My
     heart was broken, but my conscience was easy.


_The Emperor’s Brochure._

_August 29, 1872._


     I need not tell you how much pleasure your wishes give me. I have
     been accustomed for so many years to receive proofs of your
     friendship; and you know how they touch me.

     We shall return to Chislehurst towards October, and you will not
     doubt the pleasure we shall have in seeing you again.

     I send you a photograph of the Prince. As to the brochure,[110]
     they (_sic_) are all at Camden Place.

     Receive, my dear Madame Cornu, the renewed assurance of my sincere


_The Emperor’s Final Letter to Mme. Cornu._

CHISLEHURST, _November 17, 1872_.


     I send you a line for Charles Thelin;[111] to thank you for your
     letter; and to tell you that I shall be pleased to see M. Charbet,
     if he comes to England.

     I hope you are better, and that we shall see you here when it is
     not so cold.

     My poor boy is at Woolwich, and finds the apprenticeship somewhat

     Receive the renewed assurance of my sincere friendship.


This was probably one of the last letters written by the Emperor, who
passed away within two months. When writing to his foster-sister he had
evidently no presentiment that his end was so rapidly approaching.



The date is December 20, 1848, and. M. Marrast, President of the
National Assembly, invites Citizen Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte to
take the oath required by the Constitution on his election as President
of the French Republic.

The Citizen, in evening dress, with the riband of the Légion d’Honneur
en sautoir, ascends the tribune, raises his right hand, and, with the
slightest tremor in his voice, says, “I swear.”

What is his record?

1836.--Deported to America for attempting to procure a military rising
in his favour at Strasburg.

1840.--Sentenced to perpetual confinement in the fortress of Ham for a
similar attempt at Boulogne.

1846.--“Broke prison” and reached London.

In August, 1849, the Prince-President was at Tours, where he opened a
new railway. Miss Howard was of the party, and was found lodgings at the
residence of the Receiver-General, the Préfecture. That functionary was
at “the waters” with his wife, and when he heard that the English
lady--the Prince’s “favourite” for so many years--was actually staying
under his Prefectorial roof-tree he “made trouble.” Louis Napoleon wrote
on the subject to Odillon Barrot:

     Your brother has shown me a letter from a M. André, to which I
     should disdain to reply did it not contain some false statements
     which it is right to refute.

     A lady in whom I take the highest interest, accompanied by one of
     her friends (a lady) and by two persons of my household, wished to
     see the carrousel at Saumur, and from there they came to Tours.
     But, fearing they might not find lodgings, they asked me to take
     steps to obtain them some.

     When I arrived at Tours I told a counsellor of the Préfecture he
     would oblige me by looking for an appartement for Comte Bacciochi
     and two ladies of my acquaintance. Chance, and their evil star, led
     them, it appears, to the house of M. André, where--I know not
     why--it was thought that one of them bore the name of Bacciochi.
     She has never used that name, and if such a mistake has been
     committed it is by strangers, and unknown to me or to the lady in

     I should like to know why M. André, without having taken the
     trouble to ascertain the truth of the matter, wishes to make me
     responsible for the use made of his house and for the false name
     attributed to one of the persons. Does a proprietor make a good use
     of hospitality whose first care is to scrutinize the past life of
     anybody whom he receives? How many women, a hundred times less
     pure, a hundred times less devoted, a hundred times less excusable
     than the lady who lodged at M. André’s would have been received by
     him with all possible honours because they would have borne the
     name of their husbands to conceal their culpable liaisons!

     I detest this pedantic strictness, which badly conceals the âme
     sèche, indulgent for himself, inexorable for others. True religion
     is not intolerant. It does not seek to raise storms in a glass of
     water, to make a scandal for nothing, and to change into a crime a
     simple accident or an excusable mistake.

     M. André, who I am told is a Puritan, has not sufficiently
     meditated upon the passage of the Scriptures where Christ,
     addressing those as little charitable as M. André, says on the
     subject of a woman they wished to stone, “Let him, etc.” Let him
     practise this teaching. As to myself, I accuse nobody, and I admit
     I am culpable for seeking in illegitimate ties an affection of
     which my heart is in need. However, as until now my position has
     prevented me from marrying, as in the midst of the cares of
     government I have not, alas! in my country, from which I have been
     so long absent, either intimate friends, or youthful liaisons, or
     relations to give me the sweetness of the family, I may be
     pardoned, I think, for entertaining an affection which does no harm
     to anybody, and to which I do not seek to afficher myself.

     To return to M. André, if he believes, as he declares, his house to
     have been soiled by the presence of an unmarried woman, I beg you
     will let him know that, on my side, I greatly regret that a lady of
     a devotion so pure and of a character so elevated should have
     stumbled by chance into a house where, under the mask of religion,
     there remains but the ostentation of a formal virtue without
     Christian charity.

     Make whatever use you like of this letter.[112]

In November, 1851, the imminence of the coup d’état was talked about all
over Paris as being necessary and anticipated. In the salons it was a
topic of “chaff”; at the Elysée (the Prince-President’s abode) it was
studied in detail; the Church hoped for it; the people expected it; the
army reckoned upon it. The plan (says the pseudonymous Baron d’Ambès)
was sketched at the end of October by Saint-Arnaud and Maupas, whom
Louis Napoleon informed, about this time, of Changarnier’s conspiracy
against the Elysée. To wait longer would be fatal. The lists of those
who were to be proscribed were prepared in September. The programme for
December 1 was drawn up to the most minute details. From 3 to 4 a.m. the
police commissaries were to be received by the Préfet. At 5.30 the
Palace of the Assembly would be occupied. At 6 arrest of Generals,
representatives of Parliament, heads of societies, and dangerous
democrats. At 6.30 proclamations were to be affixed to the walls, troops
to be posted near the houses of those persons who were to be arrested,
and positions for fighting were to be taken up by the military. By 7
o’clock it was to be “all over.” At 8 the Minister of the Interior was
to send instructions to the Préfets.

The “men of the coup d’état” were divided into three classes:

First, Saint-Arnaud, Morny, and Maupas.

Second, General Magnan, Persigny, and Fleury.

Third, Baroche, Rouher, F. Barrot, De Parieu, Dumas, Véron, Romieu,
Fould, Magne, Drouyn de Lhuys, De Royer, Schneider, Fortoul, Espinasse,
Billault, etc.

The programme was carried out to the letter on December 1, and a year
later the Prince-President had exchanged that title for the supreme one
of Napoleon III., Emperor of the French. The Bonapartists’ excuse for
the “coup” was that it was absolutely necessary to “sweep the board” of
the President’s opponents in Parliament and out of it, and also in the
army. There was sanguinary fighting in the streets, it is true, and the
President was branded throughout the World as a perjurer and a criminal
of the deepest dye, who had “waded through blood to a throne.” To many
historians of the period he remains the “Man of December.” To later
writers, not overburdened with a knowledge of the facts, he is the “Man
of Sedan,” a pitiful and an ignominious figure, unworthy of sympathy.

The new Constitution was promulgated on January 14, 1852. It confided
the Government of the French Republic for ten years to “Prince Louis
Napoleon Bonaparte, the present President of the Republic.” (Prince
Jérôme, ex-King of Westphalia, was President of the Senate.)

On November 4 the Prince sent a message to the Senate, saying that the
nation had “loudly manifested its will to re-establish the Empire.” This
message was dated from the Palace of St. Cloud. The Prince had now
governed France for four years. A Committee of the Senate was appointed
to draw up a report, and on November 6 it submitted to the Senate
several resolutions, the series being known as “Senatus Consultum.”
Article I declared that the “Imperial dynasty is re-established. Louis
Napoleon Bonaparte is Emperor of the French under the name of Napoleon
III.” The imperial dignity was made hereditary from male to male, “to
the perpetual exclusion of the females and their descendants.” The
Senate passed and signed all the articles, and on Sunday, November 21,
the voting “for the Empire” began, and lasted several days.

On December 2, 1852, the anniversary of the coup d’état, in the
afternoon, the Emperor, who had been “proclaimed” at St. Cloud the
previous evening, made his official entry into his capital. It was wet
and cold, and, although all Paris had turned out to see the military
pageant, the enthusiasm might have been greater than it was. The
Emperor, mounted on a showy charger, looked anything but bright. He

[Illustration: MR. ALFRED AUSTIN


     was Special Correspondent of the _Standard_ during the
     Franco-German War in 1870-71. His accounts of his interviews with
     Bismarck were everywhere read. Mr. Austin is one of the two English
     survivors of the campaign. His sonnet on the Prince Imperial,
     written a few days after the news of the tragedy in Zululand was
     received, is reproduced by the Poet Laureate’s special permission.
     The photograph of Mr. Austin, taken in 1870, was kindly lent by
     Mrs. Austin.

_To face p. 272._]

did not once take off his General’s plumed tricorne, but contented
himself with acknowledging the salutations of the crowd by occasionally
touching his hat. By his own orders he rode alone; the escort, separated
from his own by a considerable space, front and rear. This was an
example of the pluck which he invariably displayed both as President and
as Emperor.

During his four years’ Presidency of the Republic he had been surrounded
by open foes in France and by opponents who lay in ambush awaiting
opportunities to strike. Foreign opinion, however, was less hostile
prior to than it became after the coup d’état, which was the signal for
an outburst of almost universal execration. Even Queen Victoria, who,
some three years later, was entertaining, and was entertained by, the
Emperor and Empress, condemned the act of December, 1851. Early in 1852
the Queen, in a letter to King Frederick William of Prussia, wrote:[113]

     The political stratagem in Paris will have taken your Majesty back
     to the days of your youth.... Louis Napoleon had tried to freshen
     up the memories of all European Governments by the reintroduction
     of the eagle on the standards of the French army, and by allusions
     to changes of the boundaries, etc. In spite of this, I firmly
     believe in the maintenance of peace. But I am made much more
     anxious by the thought that those Continental Governments which
     have gone too far in their blind reaction, led astray by the Paris
     example, are of the erroneous opinion that a State is likely to
     last eternally which has been raised on the ruins of civil liberty
     with the blood of the middle classes of France, and that they may
     be encouraged to widen the breach between them and their peoples,
     and completely destroy the belief in the political morality of
     Governments in general.




     The whole House was on its feet, threatening, shaking its fists at
     a man with a waxen face who protested against this last humiliation
     inflicted on his master. Like the Jews demanding of Pilate that he
     should deliver Jesus to them, we cried to posterity at the top of
     our voices: “Crucifige, crucifige eum!”

     I do not know which of the two attitudes has left the more painful
     impression on my mind--that of Conti [the Emperor’s former
     Secretary], surrounded, almost struck, but meeting these threats
     with the most magnificent coolness; or that of the seven hundred
     and fifty representatives of the French nation, raging against a
     man who for six months had been little more than a corpse. He had
     been very guilty; but we, in our turn, were very cruel.[114]

The visit of the Emperor and Empress to Queen Victoria and the Prince
Consort in 1855 was heralded by the issue of a placard thus conceived:

     England’s disgrace. The Real Day of Humiliation.[115] Louis
     Napoleon, the Murderer, the Oath-Breaker, is coming to England.

     Englishmen, do your duty!

The Empress had, we know, complained to Queen Victoria of the bitter
attacks rained upon the Emperor by our newspapers, and was scarcely
comforted by the Queen’s assurance that the English Press was free and
could not be censored.

Bismarck, who, when he was Prussian Minister to France, professed the
warmest friendship for Napoleon III., and became a favourite of the
Empress and the Court, soon turned against the Emperor, speaking of him
slightingly, if not contemptuously, and deprecating Napoleon’s
suggestion of a Franco-Prussian alliance.

To Vambéry Napoleon III. was “this thick-set man, with his flabby
features and pale, faded eyes.” Vambéry[116] could not discern in the
Emperor a trace of the greatness of which he had heard so much. “His
pale eyes and artificial speech soon betrayed the adventurer who had
been elevated to his exalted position by the inheritance of a great name
and the wantonness of the nation.”

Mme. Cornu, Louis Napoleon’s foster-sister, who had had a sincere
affection for him prior to the coup d’état, execrated him for that act,
declined to see him when he called upon her, and, as he stood at the
bottom of the stairs, shouted to him from above that she would have
nothing to do with “a man whose hands were covered with blood.” Her
resentment continued for years; then, one day, she went to the
Tuileries, saw the Emperor and Empress, took the little Prince in her
arms, and “made it up.”

I would fain hope that we may find the “true truth” in these eloquent
words of the statesman who knew the real Louis Napoleon better, perhaps,
than most men, excepting De Morny, De Persigny, Fleury, Conti, and, I
will add, Franceschini Pietri--I mean, as will have been guessed, M.
Émile Ollivier:

     Despite all that has been written on the Emperor Napoleon III., no
     personage is less known. He has been described as un esprit
     nébuleux; in reality, no one had a clearer mind. He has been called
     an egotistical calculator: no one was more disinterested or more
     preoccupied with the national grandeur. But he placed that grandeur
     very high. He believed that France was the soldier of God; that his
     mission was not to gratify miserable cupidities, but to work for
     the freedom and happiness of peoples. He did nothing on behalf of
     dynastic interests, but he neglected no opportunity of advancing
     the principle of nationalities, which is that of justice, peace,
     and civilization. And that will be his immortal glory in the
     future. He would not have sent the French fleet to prevent the
     brave Cretans from uniting themselves with Greece, if they desired
     to do so. He would not have made France the synonym for egotism and
     platitudes. All his dreams were those of one of the most beautiful
     minds which ever ruled over men since the days of the

The value of that glowing tribute, that certificate of character,
depends upon the impartiality and capacity of the person who penned it.
I myself consider M. Émile Ollivier--Napoleon’s last Prime Minister,
upon whom and his colleagues was imposed the dire duty of declaring
war--an impartial witness. He may not--I fear he will not--be accepted
as such by all. Is he not the Minister who said he entered upon the war
“with a light heart”? He is the selfsame man; only it is too often
forgotten that he qualified that expression at the moment he uttered it
by explaining that he was “light-hearted” because of “his conviction
that Prussia was in the wrong and was deliberately attacking

It must be remembered that while M. Ollivier was devoted to Napoleon
III. he was regarded with not over-friendly eyes by the Empress Eugénie.
He necessarily had frequent formal and informal audiences of the
Emperor, and that some of these interviews took place unknown to the
imperial lady we know from the Emperor’s letter asking the statesman to
enter the Tuileries on a certain occasion by “the little door” in the
garden, in order that the Empress might not know he was in the Palace!

M. Ollivier, as the historian of “L’Empire Libéral,” intends to be
absolutely unbiassed and impartial. He has taken upon himself the
Herculean task of defending that Liberal Empire, the Liberal Emperor,
and the Liberal Premier of 1870 (himself), and he has had to make the
best case possible for all three. His work is a monument of research,
memory, and industry. His fifteen great volumes are for the world’s
criticism; some may see in them only a brilliant plaidoirie, admirably
conceived and ingeniously executed--the whole a phenomenal literary
performance, yet, of course, written with parti pris, and as such
challenging critical comment. But may we not accept without carping, and
with faith in his sincerity, his estimate of the Man Napoleon III., the
Pale Emperor, in whose words, “The crown has thorns, and often some of
them sink deeply into the head,”[119] we seem to see the epitaph he
would have wished?

The responsibility for the war of 1870 has been laid, firstly, to the
charge of the Empress Eugénie, and, secondly, to that of the Emperor. In
a previous volume I printed the complete text of what, since its
publication in that work, has become known as “the Empress’s Case”--Her
Imperial Majesty’s Reply to her Accusers. One of my numerous very
appreciative American critics took occasion to remark that, in order to
prove the Empress’s blamelessness, something more was required than the
mere word of M. Gaston Calmette.[120] To remove all misapprehension, I
now put it on record that the document in question contained the Empress
Eugénie’s ipsissima verba; otherwise it neither could nor would have
been published.

I pass on to a consideration of the measure of the Emperor Napoleon’s
responsibility for the war with Germany.

Those who have taken the trouble, and who have the competency, to
investigate the numerous causes which were the genesis of the war have
satisfied themselves that, to employ a colloquialism, Napoleon III. was
“dead against” entering into a conflict with Prussia. These
investigators now know, although they may not all have known it twenty,
or ten, or even five years ago, that the Emperor was forced into the
field, partly by the diplomacy of the then Count Bismarck (other
diplomatists aiding), partly (and to a greater extent) by the
practically unanimous voice of his own subjects.

Let there be no longer any doubt about this: the French themselves, not
primarily, but ultimately, were responsible for the war. It was not
Paris this time, but the entire nation, and, with very few exceptions,
the Press, which made it impossible for the Emperor and his Government
to refrain from throwing down the gauntlet. That the Empress should have
sided with the “war party” is not surprising, for the “war party” was
the country, and she would have been voted anti-patriotic (and we know
what that means) had she not fallen into line with those millions who
professed their anxiety to get “to Berlin,” although they knew no more
how they were to get there than they knew how to reach the planet Mars.

We forget the vacillations of the Emperor, we forget his moral lapses,
we forget the coup d’état, we can even forget the hideous Mexican
blunder, when we remember his noble hesitancy to plunge the country into
a war which he knew could have but one ending--disaster. He knew it from
Stoffel and he knew it from Niel. As Baron de Mackau has most truly
said, Napoleon III. “_submitted_ to the war.” There is the whole matter
crystallized into four words. The Emperor sanctioned the war because he
had no alternative. He had to submit to pressure from within and
pressure from without. If ever a Sovereign was driven into making war it
was that most unfortunate of men the Emperor Napoleon III.

Baron de Mackau was one of the Emperor’s most intimate friends, and
after the battle of Solferino he was entrusted with the duty of
presenting Niel with his Marshal’s epaulettes. The Baron says:

     The Emperor did not wish for war. It is only just to him to say
     that he submitted to it. It would be equitable to seek for the
     reasons of the defeat of France in the refusal of Parliament to
     contribute, during the years preceding the war, to the work of
     national defence proposed by Marshal Niel. In 1867, after the
     Italian war, Niel, as Minister of War, demanded the modification of
     the military law and the creation of reservists. He was not allowed
     to finish his speech. The Magnins, the Favres, the Simons, and all
     those who formed the Opposition at that date, prevented the vote.
     They said to the Marshal: “You want to make France a vast
     entrenched camp.” I heard the Marshal reply, with a gravity well
     calculated to move those who were present: “May you, gentlemen, not
     make it a huge cemetery.”

On the day following the declaration of war, when the Delegates of the
Corps Législatif took leave of Napoleon III., His Majesty said to them:
“Ah, gentlemen, we are undertaking a heavy task!” As he left the
Emperor’s study at St. Cloud, Baron de Mackau said to his colleagues:
“We are done for!”

The Baron continues:

     The eagerness with which, a few days previously, people had heard
     of the possibility of avoiding war; then the order given suddenly
     by Marshal Lebœuf, the Emperor’s friend and confidant, to stop all
     preparations; the Marshal’s resignation when, at the last night
     council, war was decided upon--these things have been always, to
     me, proofs that the Emperor only submitted to the war. The truth is
     that public opinion in France, grievously over-excited, urged on
     the war; and that the Left, represented by those whose names are
     noted above, and always taking heed of outside rumours, followed
     the current of public opinion, as did, later, Marshal Bazaine. The
     Right, as a whole, advanced hesitatingly and defiantly, animated by
     the desire to weaken the Emperor’s Government abroad, and only made
     up its mind when our colleague, Talhouët, a member of the
     delegation to whom the secret documents had been communicated,
     declared at the Chamber that, as a matter of honour, war was

While the Emperor was in his “prison” at Wilhelmshöhe (September, 1870,
to March, 1871) he spent the greater part of his time at his desk.[121]
In this former palace of his uncle, Jérôme, King of Westphalia, Napoleon
III. wrote, from memory, aided by extracts from State papers which
someone copied for him, an elaborate statement of his policy during his
eighteen years’ reign, so far as it regarded Germany. This very frank
apologia (De Persigny having refused to figure as its “author”) was
fathered by his old friend, the Marquis de Gricourt, who had been his
companion in London when he was awaiting the call which came to him in
1848. That the statement was written by the Emperor himself is
guaranteed, in his Memoirs, by General Count von Monts, to whose custody
at Wilhelmshöhe the august captive was confided by King William.[122]

General von Monts writes:

“The Press had obtained excessive liberty; the Republican party, the
Empress, and the clergy had too much power for the welfare of the
Dynasty; and the Emperor damaged himself by obeying the suggestions of
several French Ambassadors abroad. That Napoleon himself was also
culpable for the war against us [Germany] is a fact which cannot be
disputed, inasmuch as we know his letter of July 12, 1870, addressed to
Gramont, in which he formulated his exigencies in respect of Prussia,
and begged Gramont to explain them to Benedetti. Napoleon never, in my
presence, alluded to this letter, but he recognized his culpability by
writing, in his brochure, ‘Les Relations de France et Germany sous
Napoléon III.’:

     ‘Toutefois, nous le disons franchement, le devoir de l’Empereur
     était d’être plus sage que la nation, et d’empêcher la guerre, même
     au prix de sa couronne.’

“The cover of the brochure gave the name of the Marquis de Gricourt as
the author; _but I know for certain that the Emperor was the author of
it, for he wrote it during his captivity at Wilhelmshöhe, and gave me a
copy of it_.”

This highly-interesting document is so little known--I will venture to
say it is unknown--that I will quote some of its principal paragraphs in
full, fortified by the conviction that I shall be thereby clearing the
Emperor’s memory (as I have already cleared that of the Empress) from
many reproaches and sneers which have been accepted as gospel by all who
have not waded through M. Ollivier’s fifteen volumes, which are not
likely to be translated into English, although possibly they may be
issued in German; but even that is doubtful, for the author of “L’Empire
Libéral” is a very outspoken historian.

The Emperor wisely says: “We must not judge of things as they are, but
as they _might have been_. Certainly, since Königsgrätz the power of
Prussia has increased amazingly; hence her crushing France with
considerable forces, outnumbering her own by hundreds of thousands....
Before 1866 there was no possibility of forming an alliance in the
centre of Europe. Austria was irrevocably joined to Germany, and Italy
did not then exist as a Power. But might it not likewise be argued that
in 1870, also, France remained alone? Central Europe then permitted her
to form alliances. The Austro-Hungarian Empire might have been won over,
and Italy, reconstituted, led to join in the war. Had these events taken
place, the policy of the Second Empire doubtless would have triumphed;
for facts could have proved that, in spite of the augmentation of
Prussia, there existed in Europe a serious counterpoise to her gigantic
power.... From January 2, 1870, France[123] became entire mistress of
her own destinies. And what use did she then make of the liberties so
largely accorded to her? The country desired peace; the Chambers and
Government desired peace; and yet the climax to the situation was War.”

With these preliminary words Napoleon III. proceeds:

       *       *       *       *       *

When M. Émile Ollivier accepted the task of forming a Ministry, his
programme--as submitted to the Emperor--frankly acknowledged the
principle of nationalities,[124] recognizing the right of Germany to
reconstitute herself in a manner thought best suitable to her. He
likewise expressed the most pacific intentions.[125] Soon after the
installation of the Ministers on January 2, 1870, Comte Daru, Minister
for Foreign Affairs, proposed to Prussia, through the intervention of
England, a general disarmament. To support this demand, it was
suggested, in the Chambers, to reduce the annual contingent by 10,000
men. This last measure was adopted; but as to the proposition of Comte
Daru only a formal and evasive answer was returned. Nevertheless, it may
be said that the year 1870 began under favourable auspices. Nothing
seemed to threaten the repose then enjoyed by Europe. The only thought
in France was to develop, under a Liberal Government, the moral and
material resources of the country.[126]

But it has often been said, “He who sows the whirlwind shall reap the
tempest.” For four years the Opposition--including all sections--had
caused the Tribune and the Press to resound with most bitter
lamentations on the increase of Prussian power.... These constant
assertions, these perpetual attacks, had penetrated to the remotest
parts of the country. The army, even, had not remained insensible to the
reproaches of weakness hurled at the Government; it felt humbled by the
successes of Prussia, as if those very successes had been obtained
against itself.

Again, when the news reached France of the likelihood of a Prussian
Prince becoming King of Spain, it had the effect of a spark falling on
inflammable matter; all hatred, jealousies, and envyings were at once
aroused. This incident, which at another time would only have provoked
an exchange of diplomatic Notes, now fired the whole nation.

The Ministry, it must be owned, committed the serious fault of carrying
to the tribune a sort of challenge, which rendered any diplomatic
arrangement difficult. Nevertheless, on the Prince of Hohenzollern
withdrawing his son’s name as candidate for the Spanish throne, it was
hoped that peace might still have been maintained; but public opinion
had been too violently agitated: it spurned all conciliatory measures.
The journals of nearly every shade of opinion cried out for war. The
provinces partook of the exultations of the capital. Whatever may be
said of the confidential messages sent by the Préfets, and of which only
garbled accounts had been given, the majority of these high
functionaries announced, in the aggregate, that in the Departments the
public mind was animated beyond precedent; conditions of peace, however
honourable, would in no way satisfy them. Of this we need no further
proof than the following despatches, found by the Prussians in the
Palace of St. Cloud, and published in the “North German Gazette”:[127]

     “PERPIGNAN, _July 15, 1870_.--The Préfet to the Minister of the
     Interior, Paris. In consequence of the last news we have had great
     excitement here. The idea of war with Prussia is warmly received by
     the bulk of the population. Even the Radicals say that in a week’s
     time hostilities will commence, and that by August 15 our soldiers
     will celebrate the Emperor’s fête at Berlin. No one, for one
     moment, doubts the results of the war. Everywhere, in town and
     village, there is the same confidence shown.”

     “MARSEILLES, _July 16, 1870_.--The Préfet to the Minister of the
     Interior, Paris. There has just been a great manifestation here, a
     torchlight procession parading the streets of our town, followed by
     10,000 to 15,000 people, singing ‘La Reine Hortense’ and the
     ‘Marseillaise.’ The cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur!’ ‘A bas la Prusse!’
     ‘À Berlin!” resounding on all sides. The crowd is full of
     enthusiasm, and no disorder.”

These sentiments found expression, nearly as energetic, in language
uttered by the representatives of the country. The wish of the Corps
Législatif was no longer doubtful. It appears that there had been a
moment when the Ministers inclined towards peace. An order of the day by
MM. Clément-Duvernois and Jérôme David--the latter Vice-President of the
Chamber[128]--nearly overturned the Cabinet. This occurred on July 13.
Two days later the Chamber was called upon definitively to pronounce on
the conclusions drawn up in conformity to the Commission of which M. de
Kératry was a member, and which had been unanimously approved of. _The
vote was for War!_ The majority numbered 247 against 10. Seven members
only were absent. The Radical Opposition was divided in opinion. To use
the words of M. Thiers: “This was, in truth, the expression of an
overwhelming approval of the country; the Legislative Body siding with
the people.”

When the Emperor, in his proclamation to the French army, foretold the
difficulties of the enterprise, so certain appeared success to all that
the sober “Journal des Débats” expressed an opinion that His Majesty
“showed too much diffidence in his address to his troops.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Every soldier in the streets was made the subject of popular ovation. In
the theatres public feeling manifested itself by the noisiest
demonstrations. Who can forget that representation at the Opera when the
whole audience rose to a man and thundered out the “Marseillaise”?

In Paris such was the enthusiasm felt that the Emperor could not leave
his Palace without being cheered by an immense mob, crying out, “Vive la
guerre!” At the moment of his departure for the army His Majesty
purposely refrained from driving through the capital owing to reports
that the populace would indulge in wild demonstrations, intending to
unharness the horses from his carriage and drag it themselves in triumph
to the railway station. This same people, one month later, destroyed the
emblems of the Empire and broke the statues of their Ruler![129]

If we have recalled facts known to all, it is not to exonerate the
Emperor from the responsibilities he assumed, but to prove what was then
the state of public opinion in France.

On Sunday, July 19, 1870, Napoleon III. held, at the Tuileries, a
Council of War, which lasted several hours. The Emperor and his
Ministers agreed, without exception, after mature deliberation, that a
declaration should be made rendering peace still possible. But the same
evening the Ministers repaired to St. Cloud and amended their resolution
of the morning, M. Ollivier informing His Majesty that if the document
agreed upon at their last meeting had been published the disappointment
would have been such that “the Ministers would have been received with
hisses and their carriages pelted with mud.”

Certainly, although the Chief of the State was a Constitutional
Sovereign, he might have prevented the war, but at the cost of his own
popularity. They would again have reproached him--as they already
had--for being humble to the strong and arrogant to the weak. His
conduct would have been for ever denounced by a malevolent Opposition as
basely culpable towards a designing adversary.

At the same time, we own that the duty of the Emperor was to have shown
himself wiser than the nation, and avoided war even at the cost of his

His excuse is that he accepted the contest, but without ardour, as a man
who engages in a duel because his honour and duty demand it, not
considering that his opponent may be stronger than himself. Doubtless,
he may have been carried away at the moment by national élan; by
unlimited confidence in the power of his army; and that dreams of
military glory, perhaps even of territorial aggrandizement, then stifled
in his breast the calm reasoning of the statesman.

Without, however, ignoring the responsibility of His Majesty in recent
events, we cannot admit, as recently stated by M. Jules Favre, that the
Emperor made war of his own accord and in the interests of his Dynasty.

Who could believe that, after receiving a new consecration by universal
suffrage, when 7,000,000 voices freshly ratified former Plébiscites, and
showed the most incredulous how deep-rooted the Empire was, Napoleon
III. should have thought it necessary, two months later, to have
recourse to such a terrible expedient as war to sustain his power and
strengthen his Dynasty? Why, even successful warfare would in no way
have added to the security of the Empire. Alas! it could only lead to
the disturbing of everything. The Emperor led the élite of his army,
leaving behind him his wife, with no armed force, no tried and daring
military chief, to guard her, in an immense capital always in agitation,
imbued with Republican ideas, worked upon by SOCIALISM, a prey to 700
journals, and invested with the rights of public political meeting. On
the least reverse of arms, disorders, riotings, perhaps even a
revolution, had to be dreaded.

It is quite evident, then, that war, taken all in all, was palpably
against the interests of his Dynasty, and it cannot be just to Napoleon
III. to say that he either desired or imposed it on the country.

Furthermore, a Vice-President of the Government of Defence, had he not
always upheld the institution of Ministerial Responsibility as a wise
and efficient system? Why, then, be false to his principles now? Why
impute to the Emperor alone the errors that have been committed in the
management of State affairs? Surely his Ministers were equally
blameable. The honest truth is that the country desired the contest, and
that His Majesty, unfortunately, did not resist the overwhelming
enthusiasm of the nation.

In conclusion, let us remark with what care Napoleon III. endeavoured,
from the commencement, to show how consistent his conduct had been with
national sentiment.

In his Proclamation to the French people[130] he says:

     “Frenchmen! There are moments most solemn in the life of
     nations--when the national honour, violently excited, with
     irresistible force commands all interests and directs the destinies
     of the country. One of these decisive hours has just struck for

     “Against the new pretensions of Prussia our objections made
     themselves heard. They have been evaded, and followed by
     contemptuous proceedings. At this our country has felt a profound
     irritation; and immediately a warcry resounded from one end of
     France to the other. Nothing is now left us but to confide our
     destinies to the fate of arms.”

When, on July 23, the Legislative Body took leave of the Emperor, he
answered the President’s address in these words:

     “_We have done all we could to avoid war. We can now say that it is
     the whole nation which, by its irresistible élan, dictated our

Thus, then, in accepting the responsibility which devolved upon him, the
Emperor--before, as since, his overthrow--desired to establish before
the world the following simple fact: that he did not launch the country
into a perilous enterprise on account of contemptible motives, but felt
himself encouraged, if not compelled to it, by the determined
manifestations of public opinion.

The reader who has followed the above recital of the principal events of
the reign of Napoleon III. must be convinced that he who became a
prisoner at Wilhelmshöhe employed eighteen years of undisputed power in
making France the most flourishing country in Europe, in allaying
international hatred, and in protecting the independence of foreign
States. When his personal efforts appeared to him unequal to realize all
he meditated for the universal welfare, he voluntarily gave up Authority
and called on the representatives of the people to take the most active
part in the direction of affairs, thus establishing in France the widest
and most complete system of liberty.

And now, because fortune has abandoned him, this great man is only
considered by some in the light of a tyrant, who, to establish a
Dynasty, ruthlessly precipitated his country into all the horrors of a
merciless war.

We have recorded facts. Posterity will be the judge.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the Empress read the telegram announcing that the Hohenzollern
candidature was withdrawn, she said, in the presence of General
Bourbaki, “It is infamous! The Empire will fall to rags!” (“L’Empire va
tomber en quenouille!”)[131]

An extraordinary story, told by M. Welschinger, makes one wonder whether
some of those surrounding the Empress in July, 1870, were in their right
minds. It was proposed that the King of Prussia should be asked to write
a letter to Napoleon III. to satisfy the énergumènes (fanatics, “of whom
the Empress was one”), and the Duc de Gramont actually drafted and sent
to the King a note of what His Majesty was to say! King William had been
very pleased when he thought that all danger of war had vanished by the
withdrawal of the Hohenzollern Prince from the Spanish candidature, “and
in so uselessly and gratuitously wounding him the French Cabinet
alienated the only person who could check Bismarck.”

King William was disgusted. “Was there ever such insolence?” he wrote to
Queen Augusta. “They want me to appear before the world as a repentant

When Benedetti asked the King to give “guarantees” that there should be
no renewal of the Hohenzollern candidature, His Majesty said: “You ask
me to make a promise for all time, and that, for every reason, I cannot

Bismarck did the rest.

“There was neither insulter nor insulted at Ems. There was only the
Chancellor’s manœuvre.” The French Cabinet played into the hands of
Bismarck, whose one desire was that France should be responsible for the
declaration of war. “It was Bismarck who wanted war, and we rendered him
the service of declaring it.” M. Ollivier was pleased at the
Hohenzollern’s withdrawal, and there the affair ought to have ended;
“but,” says M. Welschinger, “a section of Deputies and of the Court--the
Empress in particular--urged war.[132] While the business world was all
in favour of peace, an artificial atmosphere environed the Cabinet--an
atmosphere composed of M.P.s and hot-headed journalists--and accused
Ministers of weakness. The numerical inferiority of the army was not the
fault of the Emperor and his Ministers, but of the elected
representatives of the nation. The Emperor’s health grew worse and
worse, until he could no longer resist the war party.... We had an army
numerically inferior, could not reckon on allies, and were in no way
prepared for war. On July 6, after the Duc de Gramont’s speech, I heard
on all sides, ‘It is war, it is war!’ The Cabinets of Austria and of
England both blamed the declaration of war.”

On the day of the departure from St. Cloud of the Emperor and the Prince
Imperial for “the front” (July 28) gloom prevailed at the château. “One
would believe there was a coffin in the house,” said a lackey. But the
aides-de-camp who were accompanying the Emperor were in boisterous
spirits. They were inclined to say, as Pandore said to his brigadier,
“Majesté [Brigadier], vous avez raison.”[133] The Emperor wore the
uniform of a General of Division de petite tenue; the Prince Imperial
that of a Sous-Lieutenant of Voltigeurs of the Guard. As the boy
strolled about, taking farewell of everybody--his pretty cousins, the
Empress’s nieces, daughters of the Duc and Duchesse d’Albe, were
there--he tapped the scabbard of his sword and gave himself airs, to the
delight of the admiring group. Tears were in his mother’s eyes when, as
the train moved out of the special station, she exclaimed, “Do your
duty, Louis!” “We shall all do it,” answered the Emperor; and to the
Prime Minister he shouted, “Ollivier! Je compte sur vous!” It was their
last meeting.

As the imperial party left the château on their way to the station there
was a shout of “À Berlin!” “Don’t say that,” exclaimed the Emperor
reproachfully; “the war will be a very long one, in any case.” And one
remembers that, a few days before, when the streets of Paris were
paraded daily and nightly by crowds yelling “To Berlin!” the Emperor had
written to the Duc de Gramont, “Enthusiasm is a fine thing, but
sometimes very ridiculous.” If the Empress had illusions, her consort
had none.

We must take it, however, that he had allowed himself to be, I will not
say actually deluded, but, to a certain extent, led away by General
Frossard, the Prince Imperial’s inflexible “governor”--a man of many
“plans.” Plan No. 1 was to “take” Saarbrücken, and five days after the
Emperor left St. Cloud Saarbrücken was duly “taken,” Napoleon III.
assisting (was he not Commander-in-Chief?), and the Prince Imperial
being “baptized” by shells and bullets.

Frossard (we are told by M. Émile Ollivier[134]) was to cross the Saar
on August 2 at daybreak, and take possession of Saarbrücken, supported
by portions of the 2nd and 3rd corps d’armées, while the 4th corps
watched the débouchées of Saarlouis. Bazaine was to command three corps
destined to co-operate in the scheme. As the event proved, Bazaine was
against the occupation of Saarbrücken, and “thus revealed the fatal
inertia which lost himself, the army, and France.”

Even thus early the “hauts chefs,” to fill up time, had sent for their
wives. “The camp was full of them.” Prince Napoleon wrote in his notes,
“Trop de femmes d’officiers.”[135]

M. Émile Ollivier’s exposure of the “désillusion diplomatique” is, it
goes without saying, very illuminating. Prince Napoleon attributed the
check of the alliance “to our wish to save the Temporal Power. It has
become a historical commonplace to say that if we had given Rome to the
Italians we should have had with us Italy and Austria, and we should not
have sacrificed the country by protecting a decrepit Sovereignty.” M.
Ollivier continues:

     It was the “Spanish fanatic,” the Empress, who determined our
     resolutions. “I prefer,” she is reported to have said, “to see the
     Prussians in Paris rather than the Italians in Rome.” De Gramont is
     reported to have said: “I could do nothing. I was tied by the

     The Empress never used the abominable words attributed to her, and
     De Gramont never made the unjust accusation against her that was
     put in his mouth. She approved the Cabinet’s refusal of Beust’s
     suggestion to give Rome to Italy, but she did not originate that
     refusal. The initiative was taken apart from her by De Gramont and
     me. If she had been the Ultramontane fanatic she was said to be,
     she would not have supported the protestations of Mackau[136] and
     his friends that it was necessary to maintain our occupation of
     Rome. It was, on the contrary, upon her eloquent demonstration that
     the Council of Ministers, taking no heed of the representations of
     so many of the Catholic nobility, approved the evacuation of the
     Pontifical territory.

     In the matter of alliances, as in other matters, the Council did
     not adopt the opinion of the Empress, except when it was in accord
     with its own Opinion. The Council never submitted to an influence
     which the Empress never had over any of its members, and which she
     never attempted to exercise. It was the Cabinet, not the Empress,
     which must be held responsible for the course followed in this

All this will come as a pleasurable surprise to the Empress’s friends,
and as a disagreeable shock to her critics--or would vilipenders be the
better word? Moreover, the venerable Minister’s clear-cut, incisive,
unanswerable statements amply confirm the Empress’s assertions in her
“Case,” which, in the light of M. Ollivier’s pronouncements, is
immeasurably increased in importance. What is printed above concerning
the precise relations which existed between the members of the last
Imperial Government (for Palikao’s “scratch” Ministry is of little, if
any, account) and the Empress is, I allow myself to say, particularly
satisfactory to one who has been considered, in a few quarters, to have
unduly “bolstered up” the consort of Napoleon III. The American critic
who desired something more than the assertion of a journalist to make
the Empress’s “Case” thoroughly acceptable now has his not unnatural
desire gratified--he has the word of honour of the historian of
“L’Empire Libéral” that the imperial lady’s vehement assertions (which,
until 1910, had been buried in the columns of a newspaper) are true in
substance and in fact, and may no longer be questioned.

But M. Ollivier has more to say on this point:

     The Empress and the Duc de Gramont were convinced that, the war
     over, it would have been easy for us [the Ollivier Cabinet] to have
     established the Papal Sovereignty had it been overthrown by
     revolutionaries. The Emperor and the Duc did not realize the
     situation in which we should then have found ourselves.... The
     withdrawal of our troops, in the circumstances in which it took
     place, was equivalent to the abandonment of what remained of the
     Temporal Power.

     Even had Victor Emmanuel sent troops to our aid, he could not have
     done so before the first week in September; consequently, such help
     from Italy would not have saved us from Spicheren, Wörth, and

     _The real motive of the abstention of Italy was not the refusal to
     give up Rome. The Italian Ministers from the first subordinated the
     question of participation in the war to the initiative which
     Austria might have taken. Italy could do nothing without Austria._

     The causes which led Austria to refuse to come to our aid and to
     bring Italy with her are infinite. _But the one cause which
     dominated all others was the known intention of Russia[137] to put
     her army at the service of Prussia if Austria sent her troops to
     the assistance of France._

     _This is confirmed by King William, who, on the morrow of his
     victory, wrote to the Emperor Alexander II._: “NEVER WILL PRUSSIA

To this outburst of gratitude the Tsar replied: “I am happy to have been
able to show you by the evidence of my sympathies that I am a devoted
friend. May the friendship which unites us assure the happiness and the
glory of the two countries!--ALEXANDER.”

We may not question the sincerity of M. Ollivier’s avowal, extorted from
him by bitter memories of, as Napoleon III. says, “what might have
been”: “_La Russie a beaucoup à réparer à notre égard._”

At this point it is germane to the diplomatic question--which, as we
have seen, was at the root of everything--to recall the doubtless
forgotten fact that on July 24, 1870--five days after France had
declared war--a Conference took place in Paris on the vital question of
the proposed alliance of France, Austria, and Italy. Prince Napoleon and
the Duc de Gramont represented France, Prince de Metternich (husband of
the celebrated Princess Pauline) and Count Vitzthum represented Austria,
and Count Nigra (a great admirer of the Empress) and Count Vimercati

The Duc de Gramont produced the draft of a proposed Treaty, which was
agreed to. The Conference was about to break up when Prince de
Metternich and Count Nigra simultaneously introduced a condition making
it a sine quâ non that France should give up Rome to Italy. Prince
Napoleon refused to accept the condition, and the Duc de Gramont
announced that the Conference was at an end. Napoleon III. at once
informed Prince de Metternich and Count Nigra that only in the last
extremity would he agree to a diplomatic conference on the question of
abandoning Rome to the Italian Government.

On August 1--the day before the first engagement at Saarbrücken, when
the Prince Imperial received his “baptism of fire”--the Emperor
Napoleon, at his urgent request, was presented by Austria and Italy with
a new project of alliance, containing these important clauses:

1. The diplomatic campaign projected against Prussia will be commenced
only after September 15 [a fortnight, as it happened, after the French
defeat at Sedan], and only if France shall have already victoriously
invaded South Germany.

2. Austria-Hungary undertakes to effectively support Italy, in order
that that country may obtain conditions favourable to her interests in
the Roman question.

In opposition to Prince Napoleon, the Emperor demanded the withdrawal
from the Treaty of the paragraph relating to Rome and the fixing of a
date for changing the phrase “armed neutrality” into “armed
co-operation.” To this proposal Austria and Italy gave a point-blank
refusal. Thus France was left to carry on the struggle single-handed.

Nevertheless, the military party at Vienna pushed on preparations for
war. The Tsar was highly incensed, and the Austrian Ambassador at St.
Petersburg telegraphed that His Imperial Majesty had spoken to him “very
bitterly” concerning the Austrian preparations. This had its effect at
Vienna, and the war party subsided. The result of the failure of Austria
and Italy to join France was that the Emperor Napoleon, who had
confidently reckoned upon the armed support of those countries, took the
field, with fatal consequences.[138]



I have told, in “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910,”[139] how, on January
9, 1873, upon hearing of the unexpected death of Napoleon III., I
hastened from the Temple to Chislehurst on behalf of the “Morning Post,”
whose editor (he was not yet proprietor), the late Lord Glenesk (then
Mr. Borthwick), had for many years enjoyed the intimate friendship and
confidence of the Emperor. I told how, on my arrival at Camden Place, I
sent in my card to Sir Henry Thompson, who blandly declined to open his
lips except to assure me that the Emperor was dead, and that he, the
eminent surgeon, would himself relate the facts “some day”--a day that
never arrived. M. Pietri was too overcome with grief to say anything.
But there was at hand--I have always found it so--the friend in need. He
was the Grand Chamberlain, the Duc de Bassano. All that could be hastily
told he told me, between his sobs. “Come to-morrow, ask for me, and you
shall see our dear Emperor.” I went, and the veteran led me into the
chamber of death. Two Sisters knelt by the bedside. I was alone with
them--and the Dead.

There was at Camden Place, when I sought out Sir Henry Thompson, one who
could have greatly enlightened me; at the moment I did not know him,
even by name. Later I enjoyed the friendship of the Comte de La
Chapelle, and I have retained it to this day. Moreover, I am honoured by
the friendship of his eldest son, the Vicomte, who has rendered me
infinite service in this essay to portray the Comedy and the Tragedy of
the Second Empire.

The Comte de La Chapelle of the sixties and seventies--to-day, alas! but
the shadow of his former self--was the confidant, the trusted and
devoted friend and collaborator, of the Emperor, and equally the ami
fidèle of “Napoléon IV.” He was a born fighter--with the pen, which, in
his hand, was of more account than the sword. Much of what I thirsted to
know on the Ninth of January, 1873--the fatal day at “Camden”--the Comte
de La Chapelle could have told me at the moment. I console myself with
the reflection that had he told me all he knew, and had I written it,
the “Morning Post” would assuredly never have printed it--it was too
tragic. I published in 1910 what this chivalrous friend of Napoleon III.
knew a few hours after those last words had been murmured--“Etiez-vous à
Sedan, Conneau?” And it gratified me not a little to find that many of
the eminent critics who reviewed “The Empress Eugénie” in such generous
terms selected that particular passage for comment or for quotation.

I must explain the status of the Comte de La Chapelle, who is the
Empress Eugénie’s junior by four and M. Ollivier’s by five years. He
descends from an essentially French Royalist family of Périgord, in the
department of the Dordogne. His father was an officer of the bodyguard
of Louis XVIII., and it was only a few years before his death that he
forgave his son for seceding from the Royalist party and devoting
himself heart and soul to the Imperialist cause. Perhaps it was the
surviving Count’s Gascon blood which made him so energetic in the
defence of Bonapartist interests at a time when they had fewest

After twenty years of travel in America and Australia the Count returned
to Europe in 1869, and throughout the campaign of 1870 did the
“Standard” splendid service as one of its war “specials,” a post for
which he was eminently fitted. His admirable volume, “La Guerre de
1870,” was the first war-book given to the public. In 1872 there
appeared, with the Count’s name on the title-page, “Les Forces
Militaires de la France en 1870.” The authorship of this striking work
was immediately attributed to Napoleon III., it being argued that none
but the Emperor could possibly have obtained so much official
information concerning the condition of the army at the beginning of the
war. It was generally believed that this “Comte de La Chapelle” was a
pseudonym adopted by the Emperor. This was an error, the fact being that
the Count had become the collaborateur attitré of the august Exile at
Chislehurst, who wished his friend to assume the nominal authorship of
the volume. In 1873 the indefatigable and versatile Count--the most
genial and generous of men--issued “Les Œuvres Posthumes de Napoléon
III.”; and among his other works were “Paysans, on vous trompe,”[140]
“Les Représentants du l’Appel au Peuple,” and “Déclarations des
Napoléon,” this last containing a characteristic message from the Prince
Imperial, whose claims to the throne were fervently and cogently set
forth by the Count.

When “Les Forces Militaires de la France en 1870” appeared the
Bonapartist journals, as well as papers of another colour, declined to
review it! The Comte de La Chapelle was the man to get it “noticed.” At
the Emperor’s request he took several copies of the brochure to Paris,
for personal distribution among the editors and reviewers of the leading
papers. In one copy the Emperor wrote his own name, and commended the
work to the attention of the well-known publicist, M. Saint-Genest (a
nom de plume), of the “Figaro,” which at the time was hostile to
Napoleon III. Saint-Genest was himself inimical to the fallen Sovereign,
but he was an eminently just man, and a day or two after he had received
the brochure from the Count he wrote an elaborate, and scrupulously
fair, review of it in the then unfriendly “Figaro.” Other papers
followed Saint-Genest’s courageous lead, and in the end the Emperor’s
convincing pamphlet was widely reviewed. We may be certain that the
Emperor did not think the less of the Comte de La Chapelle for this

In those days the Emperor was generally derided by the French Press,
which, as M. Émile Ollivier has recently shown in the fifteenth volume
of his masterly work, “L’Empire Libéral,” and also in the “Revue des
Deux Mondes,” drove him into the declaration of war. The Comte de La
Chapelle and Paul de Cassagnac were almost the only supporters of the
Emperor. Inertia prevailed amongst a large section of the Bonapartists,
and probably they felt somewhat ashamed of their slackness when they
read De La Chapelle’s fiery and pungent exhortations, which afforded the
Emperor the greatest consolation. But there was reason in what the
admiring Prince Imperial said to the Count after His Majesty’s death:
“Not everybody here likes you.”

It is with sincere gratification that I now introduce as narrator the
venerable Count’s eldest son.

_Reminiscences of Bazaine, Napoleon III., and the Prince Imperial._[141]

Marshal Bazaine,[142] immediately after his escape from the Island of
St. Marguerite, came direct to London, saw my father, and sought an
interview with the Empress Eugénie at Chislehurst. It was reported at
the time that the Marshal did not, as he was originally said to have
done, escape from the fortress by means of a rope, but owed his liberty
to a friendly (and bribed) gaoler. Bazaine himself, however, told my
father that he freed himself with


Collaborator and Friend of the Emperor Napoleon III.

     _A private photograph, lent for this work by the Vicomte de La

_To face p. 304._]

the aid of a rope, and he showed his much-lacerated hands as evidence of
the truth of his assertion. My father was once discussing with Napoleon
III. the question of the Marshal’s generally assumed treachery, when the
Emperor said: “Pas traître, pas traître; mais, mais!”--accompanying the
two last words with a significant shake of the head and a very serious

My father often had confidential talks with the Emperor, sometimes for
hours together, and at such times Napoleon would get the Count to relate
his adventures and experiences in the various countries which he had
visited. These little stories greatly interested and diverted the
Emperor, and aroused his old enthusiasm.

Some time before the death of Napoleon III. determined efforts were made
to bring about a restoration of the Empire, and my father and a
few--very few--others were let into the secret.[143] I remember, as a
small boy, my father concealing in the lining of the hat which he wore
when travelling important documents entrusted to him by the Emperor for
transmission abroad, especially to Paris. At the same time my father was
“shadowed” everywhere by the detectives of the French Republic, and
subjected to the greatest annoyance. The propaganda for the restoration
of the Empire continued even after the Emperor’s death.

When, after his release from captivity at Wilhelmshöhe, the Emperor
arrived in this country, in March, 1871, he was very short of money,
and through my father’s untiring efforts large sums were raised for His
Majesty and for the Restoration propaganda. I mention this because it
was falsely reported that the Emperor had left France taking a great
deal of money with him. As a matter of fact, when the Emperor reached
Chislehurst his finances were at a very low ebb. In my father’s own
words, “Il était très gêné” (he was very short of cash).

The Prince Imperial, as many are probably aware, was an excellent
swordsman. He attended regularly at Bertrand’s fencing academy, in
Warwick Street, Regent Street, where the courteous maître d’armes, a
fencer of the old school, used to put the Prince through his lessons
with much dignity and infinite ceremony. M. Bertrand passed away long
since; but there may still be seen in the academy over which he so
worthily presided a bust of the Prince, his foils, his épées de combat,
and other of his weapons, which, on one occasion, the veteran professor,
with pathetic solemnity, allowed me to handle when I was a favoured
pupil many years ago.

The Prince was also a first-rate rider, and my father has often told me
with what agility the imperial youth would vault into the saddle. It was
really this cleverness in mounting which cost him his life when he and
his party were surprised by the Zulus on June 1, 1879. Lieutenant Carey
(who, whatever may be said to the contrary, _was_ in command of the
ill-fated reconnoitring-party) gave the order to mount, and the Prince,
in attempting to vault into the saddle, put a great strain either on the
flap or the girth, with the result that it gave way, and the Prince fell
to the ground. By this time the Zulus were close upon him, but were
checked in their advance by two of the troopers (who had not “bolted”),
until they were both killed by assegais. Then our dear, brave little
Prince drew his sword, and, with a skilled fencer’s natural instinct,
endeavoured to ward off the spears, which were now thrown at only a few
yards’ distance. With his sword he contrived to deflect some of the
assegais, but they came so rapidly and numerously that ultimately he was
struck in one of his eyes and pierced in various places. I need say no

The exuberant spirits of the Prince Imperial may be illustrated by this
little story: One day, at Camden Place, he invited my father to a bout
at singlestick. The result of a very unequal match was that in a few
minutes the Prince so belaboured my father that he was black and blue
all over his body, and scarcely able to move for three or four days! My
father often laughed over this incident, but my mother was very angry
with the Prince.




_The “Subscription” Assured._

_To His Majesty the Emperor._



     I do not know how to express to your Majesty how grieved I am
     because of the mishap which has occurred, and of which I am the
     involuntary cause.

     Mr. ----, instead of going to Cowes on Friday, as had been arranged,
     was obliged to spend the day in the City, and he sent word to me in
     the evening to inquire whether he might present himself before your
     Majesty on the following day, and whether I could accompany him. As
     for me, believing that he was going away, and thinking that I had
     two or three days’ time, I went to Belgium, and only returned
     yesterday evening.

     As Mr. ---- did not find me, he thought that he ought to wait for
     me, and it was only this morning that I was able to get this
     explanation. He is annoyed to think that your Majesty waited for
     him. He again repeated to me what he had intended to say himself to
     your Majesty on the subject of the subscription. He only requires a
     few more days to complete his business connected with the
     railways. “And then,” he said, “I shall carry out my promises to a
     large extent, and you can, in presenting my humble respects and
     excuses to the Emperor, give the assurance to His Majesty that I
     and my friends ...” [The concluding words are undecipherable.]


_Anxious Moments, but “Good Results” hoped for._

_To His Majesty the Emperor._

_August 6, 1872._


     I have been very busy taking various measures, but I regret to say
     that for some weeks past I have encountered obstacles which seem
     likely to delay the realization of promises.

     In a number of instances the impression produced by the [war] loan
     has cooled the ardour which had been first shown, and has deferred
     the engagements; in other cases I have to combat the animosity or
     the actions of people who, after having had relations with the
     Empire, have had the indelicacy to borrow on their own account and
     to speculate on their relations with the Emperor.

     Thus I am obliged to reassure myself of the co-operation of those
     who were most inclined to subscribe large amounts. I must confess
     to your Majesty that these matters cause me anxious moments, and
     the disappointments which I meet with would discourage me if I did
     not summon all my energy and call to mind that it is absolutely
     necessary for me to attain the object proposed.

     Finally, Mr. ---- is expected in London on Saturday next, and as
     soon as I have been able to see him I shall telegraph to inquire
     on what day your Majesty could receive him.

     I am still in hope that all promises in this direction will be
     fulfilled, and that, with his co-operation and that of his friends,
     we shall obtain good results.


_£10,000 Available for the Emperor, in Instalments of £2,000._

_To His Majesty the Emperor._



     I have this morning imparted to Mr. ---- the idea which your Majesty
     had the kindness to express in a telegram, and I explained,
     moreover, how urgent it seemed to me to procure funds for the
     French Press.

     Mr. ---- replied that he would certainly bring to a happy conclusion
     the combination entered into by himself and some friends, in order
     to realize a substantial subscription, but that he still required a
     little time.

     “Nevertheless,” he added, “I can already place at the Emperor’s
     service a sum of 250,000 francs [£10,000], as an instalment of the
     subscription which I and my friends are collecting, but I should
     desire that this amount be [? payable] by instalments of 50,000
     francs [£2,000] each, at intervals of a few days.”

     Mr. ---- will leave for Paris on Saturday next, to remain there
     eight days, and if your Majesty would kindly at once send his
     orders, the address of his offices is....

     As for me, I shall await your Majesty’s decision as to whether I
     should go to Cowes or remain in London.

     Your Majesty will, perhaps, think that [our] success is still far
     from being equal to what was looked for; but, notwithstanding all
     [the] steps taken, and all my zeal, more time is required than I
     had expected; this worries me very much.


_M. Rouher receives £2,000 for the Emperor._

_To His Majesty the Emperor._

_September 8, 1872._


     M. Rouher has received the 50,000 francs [£2,000] announced, and
     since the Emperor will be back at Camden Place on October 1, I
     shall have the honour to explain the situation to your Majesty.

     Mr. ---- has received his picture of the Battle of Sedan, and he
     asks me to inquire of your Majesty whether he would be allowed to
     have it taken to Camden Place for inspection by the Imperial

     Having been obliged to give up the publication of the
     “International,” I have made arrangements to begin next week the
     publication of a little daily paper, in English and French, with
     the title “Paris and London News.”

     The principal object which I aim at is to resuscitate the
     “Telegraphic Despatch,” begun last year, but appealing to the
     English and French public, as well as to the Press.

     I shall remain anonymous in order not to be annoyed in France, and
     in order to lend more force to my pathetic telegrams.

     In order to keep the secret I have acquired a little
     printing-office ... for pamphlets and books.

     ... All my plans, but altogether the desire to be of use, which I
     trust your Majesty will pardon me.


_The Count in Contact with “Influential Persons of all Countries.”_

_To His Majesty the Emperor._

_September 15, 1872._


     Having returned to London, I hasten to place myself at your
     Majesty’s disposal.

     In compliance with the request made, I called on M. Rouher on
     Thursday morning, the 12th inst., to ask him at what time he would
     receive Mr. ----. I was told that he had not arrived, and that the
     date of his arrival was not known.

     At Mr. ----’s request, I returned the next day, the 13th, but was
     no more successful than the previous day, so that Mr. ---- left
     Paris without being able to comply with the letter which your
     Majesty had the kindness to write him, and in which your Majesty
     expressed the wish that he should spend the 12th with M. Rouher. He
     wished to know to-day what he ought to do.

     M. de ----, an intimate friend of a relation of mine, has sent me a
     booklet, which I enclose for your Majesty. He is the author of it,
     and he would be glad, when publishing another edition shortly, to
     insert any rectification which might be pointed out.

     During my stay in Paris my business in connection with railways
     brought me into contact with influential persons of all countries,
     and I was convinced that solid progress had been made in favour of
     our cause, and that people were looking forward to the future. A
     crisis is believed to be inevitable in connection with the interest
     on the loans,[145] and this is thought to be the rock which will
     wreck M. Thiers’s boat.

     The propaganda against the Empire is prosecuted at Paris, and as
     for us, we do not seem to have any organization.


“_Fully Subscribed._”

_To His Majesty the Emperor._

_September 17, 1872._


     Mr. ---- gives orders by this evening’s post to pay to-morrow a sum
     of 50,000 francs [£2,000] at M. Rouher’s, and in a few days’ time
     he will pay 200,000 francs [£8,000]; the remainder of the
     subscription will be paid as soon as his business with the “Era” is

     I am busy with various matters which I hope will have good results,
     and as soon as I have succeeded I will hasten to inform the
     Emperor. May your Majesty deign to accept the homage of my profound
     respect and my perfect devotion!


     P.S.--The funds of Mr. ----’s subscription will be paid in Paris
     through the intermediary of Mr. ----, his agent.

_Payment Delayed._

_To His Majesty the Emperor._



     M. ----, agent to M. ---- at Paris, has several times called on M.
     Rouher without being able to see him. It seems that he is in the

     The paying of the funds is consequently delayed, which is not our
     fault. I will ask them to see about it again.

     The picture of the Battle of Sedan, with the report of the Prince
     of Prussia, has been bought by M. ----, and as the Government has
     caused the photographic negatives to be broken, I have suggested
     that the picture should be reproduced in London on a large scale,
     and that copies should be distributed in France.

     If the Emperor does not disapprove of the project, it will be
     carried out as soon as the picture reaches London.

     In a few days’ time several persons who have promised to subscribe
     will have returned to town, and I shall call on them and remind
     them of their promises.

     I have several times been tempted to go to Cowes to have the honour
     to present my respects to the Emperor, but have feared to be


_A “Subscription,” not a “Loan.”_

_To His Majesty the Emperor._



     Mr. ---- having sent for me and asked me whether, because of a
     letter received from the Emperor, he ought to change what had been
     arranged between us with regard to payments, I replied that I did
     not know, but that it seemed to me that in the letter the purchase
     of newspapers had been mentioned, and that he would be able to
     settle the question at the rendezvous at M. Rouher’s to which he is
     invited for September 12.

     He then added: “I shall arrange to pay a larger amount at one time
     for the needs of the cause and the purchase of newspapers.”

     I take the liberty of again repeating to your Majesty that it is
     here only a question of _subscription_, and not a _loan_; and if I
     dwell on this point it is because I desire to make it plain that I
     have never departed from the letter of the mission confided to me.

     I intend leaving London for five or six days, but if your Majesty
     had any command or instructions for me, I should be happy to get a
     telegram, and to delay my departure, which was to be to-morrow,
     Saturday, evening.

     My journey is connected with the reappearance of my paper; for I
     was obliged to give up the plans of the “International,” partly
     because promises have not been kept, and partly in order to
     separate myself from a circle which might have injured our cause.


_Telegram to “Comte de Pierrefonds.”_[146]

_From Count de La Chapelle to Comte de Pierrefonds, Marine Hotel, Cowes
(Isle of Wight)._

     Have seen Mr. ----, and have arranged matters with him. Shall write
     particulars by next post.

     Received telegram. Could not meet yet Mr. ----. Shall endeavour to
     see him to-night, and shall telegraph his answer.

_“Before long I will give you the Highest Mark of Confidence.”--Napoleon

_To His Highness the Prince Imperial of France._

_March, 1873._


     Being entirely deprived of the happiness of seeing your Highness, I
     take the liberty of addressing these few words to you.

     His Majesty the Emperor was kind enough to count on my devotion,
     and until a few days ago[147] I was honoured by His friendship and
     His valued confidence.

     I loved the Emperor with all my soul. He commanded my life, and He
     knew it.

     One month before the terrible catastrophe which has so grievously
     befallen us, the Emperor pronounced these words: “Before long, dear
     M. de La Chapelle, I will give you the highest mark of confidence
     which I can give you.” I bowed. I felt myself the happiest of men;
     I felt that I could do anything if the Emperor commanded. These
     kind words I shall always guard in my memory, and I have long since
     vowed that I would be to the son what I had desired to be to the

     Thus you see, Monseigneur, that, happen what may, whether or not I
     shall be allowed to see you often, you will always find me ready to
     abandon everything, and place my devotion and my humble services at
     your disposal, only too happy if your Majesty will deign to accept


_Comte de Clary to the Comte de La Chapelle._

CAMDEN PLACE, CHISLEHURST, _December 30, 1871_.


     I have duly received your letter, and I at once handed the
     enclosure to the Empress. Her Majesty read it with interest, and
     thanks you. Moreover, she charges me to tell you that if during
     your stay in Paris, you should hear anything of interest, she
     would be pleased to hear of it. Au revoir, dear friend. Please
     present my respects to Mme. de La Chapelle, and accept my sincerest
     wishes on the occasion of the New Year. It is terribly cold here.

Very affectionately yours,


_From the Same to the Same._


     Just a line, dear friend, to let you know that the Empress and the
     Prince Imperial will be most happy to see you to-morrow, Sunday, in
     the afternoon. Till to-morrow. And I shall be very happy to shake
     hands with you.

Yours faithfully,


_Conversation with the Prince Imperial._

_March 9, 1873._

     The Prince said to me:

     “I know what great confidence the Emperor placed in you, and I know
     how fond he was of you. I know how devoted you were to him. Not
     everybody here likes you; but, as for me, do not forget that I feel
     for you the same attachment that my father did, and I hope that you
     will often come to see me and speak to me of my poor father.”

     Then we went on to discuss the situation. The Prince confided to me
     certain secrets regarding the organization of the party; then he
     asked me what the intentions of his father might have been on this
     or that point.

     I answered.

     “Well, then,” he said, “I shall act in the same way when the
     opportunity occurs, and, as regards what is now going on, I intend
     to make a complete change in a year’s time, and to take the
     initiative myself, which is my due.”

     After having given an account to the Prince of the plans of my
     friends, finances, and the elections, he repeated that he depended
     on me ... and I was to come and see him often.


_Letter from Émile Zola to the Comte de La Chapelle._

MÉDAN, _July 15, 1892_.


     I thank you heartily for your kindness in sending me the reply
     which you were good enough to send to the question of the “Figaro.”

     It is calculated to make me feel very proud, and I assure you that
     I am greatly touched because of the solid support which it gives to
     the historical portion of my work.[148] I shall always be extremely
     grateful to you.

Believe me, Sir,

Very truly and cordially yours,

(Signed) ÉMILE ZOLA.



CHISLEHURST, _le 12 J., 1871_.


     Je vous écris pour vous faire faire la connaissance de M^{r.} de La
     Chapelle, littérateur distingué, qui a publié un récit très bien
     fait de la campagne de 1870, et qui m’a donné des preuves de
     dévouement dont je suis fort touché.

     Recevez la nouvelle assurance de ma sincère amitié,



CHISLEHURST, _June 12, 1871_.


     I am writing in order that you may make the acquaintance of M. de
     La Chapelle, a distinguished littérateur, who has published a very
     admirable account of the campaign of 1870, and who has given me
     proofs of devotion which have greatly touched me.

     Receive this new assurance of my sincere friendship,





The Man was Colonel Baron Stoffel.

And Colonel Stoffel was the French Military Attaché at Berlin from 1866
until 1870.

This clear-headed artillery officer, ever on the alert, saw what would
inevitably happen sooner or later, and he bombarded his Government with
warning reports, which were either pigeon-holed by Ministers, after a
perfunctory glance at their contents, or perused and treated as
waste-paper. Those who assume (which I do not, and never shall) that
Napoleon III. was, as a Ruler, as black as his detractors have painted,
and continue to paint, him, will now learn for the first time that,
while in the highest military circles Stoffel’s repeated warnings of
Prussia’s preparations for war were scoffed at, and he himself regarded
by many at the Tuileries as a bird of ill omen, the Emperor attached the
utmost importance to his Military Attaché’s reports,[150] insisted,
through M. Pietri, upon being kept fully informed of what was being done
by Prussia, and did his best to prepare his forces for the struggle
which he, like Stoffel, foresaw in the near future. We know all this
now, and how we know it I will presently show. As, however, Stoffel[151]
is the hero of this chapter, his personality must not be neglected.

His career was a remarkable one. From 1862 until 1865 he was prosaically
employed in superintending the excavations at Alise, which had been
begun in 1861 by that enthusiastic archæologist, Napoleon III. In 1860
Stoffel, then an artillery Captain in garrison at Auxonne, saw for the
first time Mont Auxois. He went over the ground, Cæsar’s “Commentaries”
in hand, and noticed how closely the locality tallied with the
description given of it by the conqueror of Gaul. Shortly afterwards
Stoffel published in the “Moniteur” (August 6 and 7, 1860) “Une Étude
sur l’Emplacement d’Alesia,” which attracted the attention of the
Emperor, who was then working upon his “Histoire de Jules César,” a work
of which he himself said, one day, he wrote very little, owing to his
somewhat slight knowledge of Latin.

Stoffel was rewarded by being made Chef d’Escadrons and Officier
d’Ordonnance to the Emperor. In 1862 the Commission de la Topographie
des Gaules published Stoffel’s “Étude” through the medium of the
imperial printing-office. Stoffel showed that Cæsar’s statements were
absolutely accurate, and that the whole army of Vercingetorix might well
have been located on Mont Auxois and not have lacked a water-supply. In
1866 Stoffel became Military Attaché at Berlin.

At the Tuileries, one morning, the Emperor, accosting Stoffel, said:
“General Bourbaki assures me that you take an exaggerated view of the
qualities of the Prussian General Staff, and that you do not
sufficiently recognize the abilities of our own Staff.” Stoffel, a very
outspoken man, replied: “Sire, the General is deceived. In order to form
a correct opinion of the Prussian and the French Staffs, one must have
seen both of them.... Supposing there were two pictures of Rubens, one
measuring six feet and the other eight feet----” Here he was stopped by
the Empress, who, seeing that he was warming to his subject, began
talking to him, so that Stoffel had to break off what he was saying to
the Emperor in order to listen to the Empress! And nothing more was said
about the respective merits of the Prussian and French General Staffs.

General Bourbaki was as optimistic as Stoffel, fortified by his
knowledge of facts and his prescience, was the reverse. Two years before
the war the General, as Chef de Mission, followed the Prussian army
manœuvres along the Rhine. He could not help noticing the rapid fire of
the Prussian infantry, but his only official comment was this very inept
one: “The needle-gun (fusil à aiguille) is certainly a formidable
weapon, but in other matters we have nothing to learn from the
Prussians!” Bourbaki was a brave soldier, but a corporal of the Scots
Guards could have taught him much that would have been very useful to

One day, after the war, when the wounds of France were still open, as
Stoffel was lunching at a Paris restaurant, Bourbaki entered, saw
Stoffel, and, with tears in his eyes, said: “Ah, Colonel, I deceived the
Emperor, but unintentionally. _Had we listened to you we should have
escaped our misfortunes._ As a loyal soldier, I ask you to forgive me!”
This showed a noble heart, certainly; but all the mischief had been

Not long after the death of the Emperor, Marshal Lebœuf, who, I
remember, had been present at the imperial obsequies, again made his way
to Chislehurst, mainly, it would seem, to perform an act of duty, for
Colonel Stoffel (who chanced to be visiting England at the time) saw the
Marshal[152] kneeling at the Emperor’s tomb, contritely murmuring,
“Pardon, Sire!”

While the war was still raging, the “Times” printed some extracts from
Stoffel’s reports, and in its editorial columns expressed the
opinion--which all military experts must have endorsed--that it was a
puzzle how anyone who had read those documents could ever have dreamt of
plunging France into a conflict with Prussia.

Had Colonel Stoffel’s warnings been acted upon by the Ministers of
Napoleon III., France, in all likelihood, would have been saved from her
disasters, and the Prince Imperial have been the reigning Emperor
to-day. After all his great services, how was Stoffel treated? _Thiers
dismissed him from the army on some frivolous pretext!_

_M. Pietri’s Letters to Stoffel._[153]


BIARRITZ, _September 27, 1866_.


     The Emperor has read the report which you sent to the Ministry of
     War. He waited for it two or three days, and was obliged to send
     for it. You did well to tell me about it. His Majesty, before
     receiving it, dictated to me the following questions, in all of
     which the Emperor is particularly interested:

     1. How are the officers of the [German] Landwehr selected and

     2. Where do they come from?

     3. How many of them are there in each battalion of infantry and in
     each squadron?

     4. Where are the horses for the squadrons of the Landwehr obtained?

     5. Is the uniform of the Landwehr the same as that of the army? Or
     in what respects do the uniforms differ?

     6. How much does the knapsack of the infantry weigh?

     7. How many hospital-men per battalion follow into the

     8. How are the parks of artillery organized?

     9. How are the requisite horses obtained?

The Emperor dictated to me all these questions for you somewhat
hurriedly, and I think he will have others connected with them which you
will be able to put and decide yourself, principally concerning the
organization of the Landwehr. You have doubtless heard that His Majesty
is greatly occupied with the question of increasing our military forces
by the formation in France of a Landwehr system. All the information
which you can send on these points will be welcomed [by the Emperor].

       *       *       *       *       *


COMPIÈGNE, _November 21, 1866_.


     I thank you for the interesting details which you have sent me. I
     perused them with much pleasure, and read them to the Emperor, for
     whom they arrived very à propos. The Commission for the
     Reorganization of the Army has begun its labours, and His Majesty
     has found in your letter ideas and appreciations upon certain
     members of this Commission which could not easily have been given
     to him viva voce; whilst, coming from afar, in a private letter,
     these opinions contained nothing disagreeable; moreover, it was not
     possible to question their sincerity. Several meetings [of the
     Commission] have already been held, at which there was more or less
     verbiage--many ridiculous ideas, and especially an immense quantity
     of blagues on the part of a misunderstood General T----,[154] and
     of our Cousin.[155] The Emperor made them all come to Compiègne and
     work hard. At last they left yesterday, and will meet again a week
     hence. In the interval they will study the Emperor’s plan [which
     was ultimately adopted].

            *       *       *       *       *

     That, in general, is the scheme which is about to be studied in
     detail. I wished to send it to you, but only thirty copies were
     printed, and the Emperor is very niggardly over them. Before
     closing my letter I will ask him if he will send you a copy, and if
     he consents you will find it enclosed.

     And now I have to communicate two matters to you by the Emperor’s

     1. To send you the enclosed packet containing papers relating to
     the war budgets of Prussia and of France. The Emperor has been
     struck by the relatively small amount of the Prussian war budget as
     compared with that of France, and also by the figures for the
     maintenance of two armies almost equal in number. His Majesty
     wishes you to compare the figures now sent to you with the amounts
     which in Prussia are allocated to the same object as with us, in
     order to see what economic ameliorations may be made in our
     administrative system. Your report upon this subject will be of the
     greatest use to His Majesty, who has appointed a subcommission,
     formed of members of the Commission, and charged with the study of
     the administrative and economic details, discipline, etc., etc.

     2. Could you procure the new rifle which has been submitted to the
     King of Prussia?[156] The Emperor wishes you to do all that is
     possible to get one. Let me know if you have need of _means_ for
     that purpose. I am not directed to mention this to you; but should
     you require any [funds], I will set about getting you some.

     We have been at Compiègne a week. We had one essentially military
     evening, which was attended by twenty-four members of the
     Commission, yet was very gay and pleasant. If you want to know the
     names of some of the ladies, les voici: the sweet and beautiful
     Mme. de Chasseloup-Laubat[157]; Mme. Lejeune; the little
     Palikaos,[158] the eldest of whom is _charming_; the little
     Bruats,[159] etc., etc.; and Mlle. de Lagrenée, to whose memory I
     recalled you, thinking that it would be agreeable to you.... I have
     become a sportsman enragé, and I am going to ask to be admitted
     into the vénerie.[160]... The Emperor continues very well, better
     than ever.... Your offer to send some books is accepted [by the
     Emperor]. Select the most interesting, and send them to me--with
     your _bill_. Duperré[161] sends you a thousand remembrances.


PARIS, _January 3, 1867_.


(That looks exceedingly well.)

     ... I am sending this letter through the Foreign Office. It will
     reach you slower than by the ordinary post, but more surely.[162]
     “Chi va piano, va sano; chi va sano, va lontano.”[163] This is a
     proverb, and proverbs are the wisdom of nations.

     You asked me in your last letter to tell you exactly the kind of
     rifle the Emperor wanted a specimen of. His Majesty has no choice.
     He wants a specimen of a rifle which might be adopted by the
     Prussian army; or to know the state of perfection to which the old
     rifle has been brought--supposing that steps have been taken to
     modify it. In a word, His Majesty wishes to be au courant of the
     armament of the Prussian army. You need not, then, concern yourself
     with the various specimens which may be offered [to the military
     authorities], but only with the rifle which might be adopted....

            *       *       *       *       *

     The cost of the army will be diminished rather than increased, but
     you will find that the patriotism of our speakers will consider the
     expense still too heavy, and that they will do their best to create
     the belief that the French people are governed by buveurs de
     sang.[164] What fun the Prussians will make of us and the esprit
     militaire of the valiant French nation!...

     ... The Emperor continues in excellent health.... His Majesty
     directs me to put the four following questions to you:

     1. What is the weight of the Prussian knapsack? What does it

     2. What is the weight of the Prussian cavalry saddle, and what
     weight does the horse carry beyond the weight of the rider?

     3. How is the Prussian soldier shod? Does he wear boots, or shoes
     and gaiters?

     4. Is the uniform of the Landwehr provided by the State, or paid
     for by the man who wears it?


PARIS, _December 27, 1867_.

My dear Stoffel,

     Your two letters greatly interested me. What you tell me of the
     state of opinion and the ideas of the Prussians does not surprise
     me. I have always been among those who think that we are detested
     on the other side of the Rhine, and it has not been necessary for
     me to read the journals and pamphlets published in Germany.
     Although the German pamphlets are ... little read in France, we
     hear a long, dull buzz much resembling hostile clamours.... I
     believe we shall not seek vain pretexts to make war; but if we are
     obliged to make it, we shall not have a moment’s hesitation....

     I read to the Emperor the greater part of your opinions on the
     feelings of the Prussians towards us....


PARIS, _January 8, 1868_.


     You should have received through the Foreign Office my last letter,
     containing _twelve hundred_ francs [£48], and informing you that
     another sum is being sent from the same source.[165] You will find
     in this envelope the bank-note [for 1,000 francs = £40] referred
     to, which will be, I believe, the last you will receive. The
     prodigality of César Romain[166] will stop there, and if we had not
     any other resources there would be nothing for us to do but to ask
     M. Plon to give us a bed in the hospital which he intends to build
     in memory of the conqueror of the Gauls and of his historian
     [Napoleon III.]....

     I urged you in my last letter to send all the information which you
     can obtain, and not to omit using for that purpose the “crowns” you
     will be able to get the Embassy to advance. His Majesty would like
     to have to-day a complete report upon _a new system of mobilization
     adopted by Prussia, by which she will be able to put all her troops
     on a war footing in nine days_. Possibly you have already sent such
     a report; send another in more detail....


PARIS, _March 22, 1868_.


     ... What you told me in your last letter is quite just, as far as
     Germany is concerned, but I do not, like you, expect to see the
     Emperor reconcile himself easily to events which might happen, as
     he has done, or been forced to do, up to now. The conditions have
     changed, and if we have submitted to events against which it was
     impossible to oppose any obstacles, to-day we are ready to face,
     with calmness and confidence, those [events] which may be produced,
     and we have only to act in regard to our interests.... We must be
     in a state of constant observation, and work indefatigably to make
     ourselves the strongest.

     It is necessary, in this connection, to render justice to Marshal
     Niel. Since he has been at the [War] Ministry he has accomplished
     veritable tours de force, and from this time, by the admissions of
     the most difficult, of the most prudent, and even of the timorous
     [or “scrupulous”], we can say that we are ready for all events.

      ... I have read to the ---- [? Emperor] several extracts from your


PARIS, _May 28, 1868_.


     I have read, and caused to be read--and that with the greatest
     interest on my part and also on the part of the persons to whom I
     communicated them--the letters which you have sent me for some time
     past, and which I have not yet answered.... You appear to be highly
     thought of at the Ministry of War, where your Reports are
     appreciated in a manner very flattering to you.... I have seen one
     or two of these reports when with the Emperor, who always follows
     with the greatest attention the questions treated in your
     Reports.... All the details which you give upon the [Prussian]
     army, and everything connected with it--armaments, fortifications,
     etc.--are a very useful thermometer to consult, indicating very
     clearly the degree of temperature in which we find ourselves.

     Your private letters are of an equally appreciable interest. Your
     relations with the B---- family[167] place you in a magnificent
     position, and you have a hundred times more advantages than the
     most wary diplomatist to observe and seize, in the family life, a
     crowd of tints which should enable you to judge soundly of the
     hopes which they form for the future, and of the degree of
     confidence or of fear which they have of the success of their
     plans. In my opinion, they [the Prussians] have taken a step in
     advance by the meeting of the Custom-house Parliament [Parlement
     douanier]. M. de B---- [168] has tried to restore the prestige of
     Prussia, which had begun to weaken, by remounting his war-horse, in
     order to repel the foreigner who wished to mix himself up in their
     affairs, and by appealing to German patriotism....

            *       *       *       *       *

     I am happy to tell you to-day that our military situation is
     superb. Never have we had so many resources--never a finer army. If
     you receive the “Moniteur,” you will have been able to read Marshal
     Niel’s report upon our armament and the quality of our rifles. This
     has been published in the official journal in answer to the reports
     circulated in Germany, and noted by you, which tended to create the
     belief that we had not obtained the results which we had expected
     from our rifles. At Châlons they are practising assiduously with
     the new rifle,[169] and as the men are much pleased with it, they
     apply themselves thoroughly to practising with and taking care of

     ... All these military exercises, joined to the other summer
     déplacements, do the Emperor much good....

            *       *       *       *       *

     I have given to the Emperor the various maps which you sent me.
     They are very acceptable to His Majesty, who desires you to
     continue to forward everything new which you may find, and which is
     worth the trouble of sending. It is understood that you keep an
     account of all your expenses. The small atlases which you have sent
     for the Prince are excellent for teaching him geography, and the
     Emperor has given them to General Frossard.[170] If there are any
     others, you can buy them.


FONTAINEBLEAU, _August 17, 1868_.


     I send you with this letter a memorandum which was dictated to me,
     and which requests you to explain some things mentioned therein. I
     preferred to send it in the shape of a memorandum rather than to
     copy it and add it to my letter, as the E. [the Emperor] told me to

     [M. Pietri notes the Emperor’s satisfaction with Colonel Stoffel’s
     last two letters, and with his last reports to the War Minister,
     which His Majesty said were “très bien faits.” The writer

     I must tell you, on my own account, that I should think your
     admiration of the Prussian army and of the country itself was
     exaggerated if I did not know that you intentionally exaggerated
     your views of both a little, with an object which I
     understand--viz., to give France a good idea of the strength and
     vitality of those who may one day become our enemies, as to-day
     they are our adversaries. I believe everybody is in accord upon
     this point.... It has made us feel the necessity of making great
     efforts in order not to be outdistanced. These efforts have been
     made, and are being made every day.... We are ready for every
     event, big as it might be. That we have committed faults, no one, I
     think, will deny; that we have lacked foresight is not to be
     doubted; but from all that we have learnt a good lesson, and it is
     not to be believed that in future we shall leave even the smallest
     things to chance. If our diplomacy has not always been skilful, we
     must do it the justice of saying that for some time past it has not
     done badly by remaining tranquil and by giving way, while not
     losing sight of things, but observing them attentively. We have
     been out of luck up to now, and we must hope that fortune will not
     delay to turn, and that it will bring us some good coups, of which
     we shall have to take clever advantage.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the first week of December, 1868, the Court was at Compiègne. M.
Pietri writes to Colonel Stoffel to say that at Compiègne everything was
proceeding on traditional lines: hunting, shooting, rides and walks to
Pierrefonds, and in the evening “monster dinners and dances.” One
improvement had been made: the barrel-organ, which the Emperor sometimes
“ground,” was replaced by a live pianist, M. Waldteuffel.

Writing from Paris on May 27, 1869, M. Pietri reproaches Stoffel for
having left Paris without hearing Rossini’s Mass. “I like it less than
the _Stabat_, but that did not prevent me from going to hear it three

On December 10, in the same year, M. Pietri wrote to tell the Colonel
that Paris was going through a crisis, and that men’s minds were
unsettled. Matters had not improved at the date of the next letter
(February 4, 1870). Victor Noir had been shot by Prince Pierre
Bonaparte, and on the next day Rochefort published in the “Marseillaise”
an appeal to the people. Thus what was destined to be the “Terrible
Year” began most unfortunately.

     I am told (writes M. Pietri) that the English Government will
     insist upon Prussia disarming. It is thought that nothing would
     come from such a step, and that it would be un coup d’épée dans
     l’eau.... What do you think of it? Do you think that it would be
     sufficient to say to the Federal Chancellor, “You must disarm,” to
     cause him to disarm? I should be curious to know what answer he
     would make to anybody who made such a proposition to him, and what
     he would really think and express privately. I am certain that he
     would make many promises without intending to keep one of them. No
     doubt you think as I do, and if you can find time (try to find it)
     tell me if I deceive myself.

In April, 1870, Colonel Stoffel was in Paris, and M. Pietri wrote on the
9th: “The Emperor wishes to see you to-morrow morning at ten. Be
punctual, and come and breakfast with us.”

After that date there is a gap in the correspondence. In a long letter,
dated March 5, 1871, M. Pietri says: “What sorrows since we parted! More
than once I thought I should go mad, and that my heart would be unable
to withstand so many troubles. To look on powerlessly at the cutting of
the throat of one’s own country; to see all that one holds dearest
ruined, destroyed; and, after the disasters caused by the foreigners, to
foresee others


President of the Geographical Society of France. Father of H.R.H.
Princess George of Greece.

     _Photographed by Boissonas et Taponier, Paris, and lent for this
     work by the Prince._

_To face p. 336._]

caused by the madness of our citizens--are not these things sufficient
to fill with despair the heart of every Frenchman who sincerely loves
his country?...”

A week later M. Pietri writes to tell Stoffel that all the news coming
from France is very sad. He despairs of the future. Then comes a most
remarkable passage, which I take upon myself to emphasize, for it shows,
as I have always argued--years before this book was written--that
Colonel Stoffel, if his warnings had been taken, might, and probably
would, have saved France. M. Pietri himself admits it, and there is no
more trustworthy surviving authority than the Empress Eugénie’s devoted
Secretary and valued friend. M. Pietri writes to Stoffel: “I have always
done you justice, and to-day more than ever _I recognize that you were
right, and that if you had been listened to we should not have been
where we are; but all were blind--Ministers, statesmen, the Deputies who
were in the majority and those who formed the Opposition. Everybody
worked against the country. The Emperor alone, perhaps, saw correctly,
but, blocked every moment by the remarks of some and by the ill-will of
others, he was carried away_ [by the current] _and unable to carry out
many of the plans which he had formed. I admit that he must bear the
responsibility, for in this world there must always be a scapegoat; but_
[public] _opinion will calm down, and by degrees will better appreciate
the responsibility of each_ [individual]. _The Emperor’s responsibility
will then be lessened._” These are noble words, ringing with patriotism
and a desire to render justice to The Man who gave the Warning. And I
rejoice that the Editor of the “Revue de Paris” has so generously
afforded me an opportunity of making the English peoples acquainted with
the fact that France had in Colonel Stoffel the most devoted and most
prescient of servants, who made it as clear as daylight, not once, but
again and again, that Bismarck meant to have war and meant to goad
France into beginning it. At Grenoble most of us have gazed admiringly
at the statue of Bayard, the preux Chevalier, who was “sans peur et sans
reproche.” When will Paris “do the right thing” by Stoffel? _When?_





It has been recently said that I adhere to the Republic, the actual
Government. That is an exaggeration. In the actual Government there are
statesmen, men of order, and, without mentioning names, I may add that
there are talented chiefs. I am, above all, a man of my epoch, a lover
of progress. The time has gone for coups d’état and for proscriptions in
France. I could, to-morrow, work with some past Ministers, or with some
who are retiring. I should have considered it an honour to have voted
for the social laws enacted by the Government. I think only that the
laws ought to be prepared more juridically. A Council of State should
give a legal shape to the informal opinions of legislators not
thoroughly versed in the laws. That could be done without injury to
Parliamentary initiative.

All régimes have some good in them. Take, for instance, the family of
Louis Philippe. Well, Louis Philippe did some excellent things. He
prepared the way for the Empire admirably. If I am not with the Extreme
Left, I am still less with the Right. I have none of the ideas, none of
the illusions, cherished by the Parliamentary party of the Right. I am
in the Centre, with legality. I put my country above dynastic questions;
I would not disturb order. I crave for the Revolution, the mother of all
of us--the Revolution, from which modern France has sprung. It has been
said that yesterday I asked that the “Marseillaise” should be played. At
my marriage, which was celebrated privately, no national air was played;
but in the evening a local band of musicians serenaded us. I was asked
if I should like to hear the “Marseillaise,” with the “Brabançonne”[171]
and the Italian Hymn, and I heard it with a feeling of respect. Did it
not precede the Eagles across Europe? The “Marseillaise” is the only
French [national] hymn the Moncalieri bandsmen know. I was pleased with
it. The words of the “Marseillaise” have now only an historic sense, and
it was with that air that my great-uncle led his armies across the

I note with the deepest interest all that happens in France--everything
that is done and everything that is said. I admit with pleasure that
some excellent things are often done there. The longer we--nous autres
Français--live abroad, the more we love our France. For me the word
“Republic” always preserves its Latin sense, res publica (the “public
thing”), but there were, and there still are, in France men who have
regarded, and continue to regard, it in that sense, and I do not
hesitate to say that I approve from the bottom of my heart their
actions. Excellent things have been done for the army, for the military
service; but more attention ought to have been paid to the cadres, in
order to have assured the re-engagement of the bons sousofficers; more
especially should anti-militarism not have been encouraged.

France has especially need of order. I am often accused of not
concerning myself sufficiently with politics; but there they make a
mistake. I think I should concern myself with politics still less. That
Ministers of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs should be political
Ministers is perfectly natural; but Commerce, Public Works, and
Agriculture ought to be only administrations.[172] That a pension should
be given to every Frenchman upon attaining a certain age is an idea
which I entirely approve; but how many millions of francs would that
cost, and where would they come from? No Government which increases the
taxes would be popular.

The Empire! Do you really believe that France could still exist under
all the laws of the First, and even of the Second, Empire? The times
have progressed. We have railways, telephones, newspapers. The
conditions of the peoples have changed. A good Government, you see, is
one which, above all other things, sees to the needs of the epoch in
which we live.

To be unable to visit our museums in France is one of the most painful
phases of my exile. So much has been done for the museums: they have
been so greatly enriched. My deep love of art suffers from my inability
to inspect their treasures. What emotion I should feel at seeing again
Fontainebleau and the Malmaison, where there are so many souvenirs of my
family! And Versailles!

It seems to me that my exile, in proportion as it is prolonged, exalts
the national sentiment in me. I love France as a good Frenchman, with a
particular and disinterested affection. I am with all those who
contribute to its greatness and prosperity, wherever they come from, and
to whatever party they belong. They know me very imperfectly, and many
errors have been spread about me. I am of my time; I am a man of
progress. I do not live in the past, with old-fashioned sentiments. I
desire above everything the well-being of my country. Narrow political
formulas embarrass me only very slightly.

In all camps I see those who work to realize the greatness of France,
and I am their unknown friend. I have never abandoned my own projects.
Whether it is this one or that one who secures the happiness and
greatness of France matters little to me--that, for me, is a secondary
question. I am with all who collaborate for that purpose. France first!
I am, beside, un sage. I do not believe in adventures. In a modern
country the army alone is powerless to bring about a change of régime,
if it has not behind it the assent and the willingness of the country.

One must know how to await opportunities, and never attempt to
precipitate events.

       *       *       *       *       *

M. Jules Delafosse, the eminent Deputy for Calvados, and a zealous
member of H.I.H. Prince Napoleon’s party, has defined “Bonapartism” as
being, “not a doctrine,” but “an absolutism”:

     It is the régime which Napoleon I. inaugurated, and which Napoleon
     III. adopted, that is represented to-day by their dynastic heir
     [the Pretender]. At present no one occupies himself with
     Bonapartism, and the Prince does nothing to direct attention to
     himself. For the indifferent and the satisfied the Bonapartist
     programme is only a purely speculative indication, which is of no
     more value in their eyes than a prospectus; it will have no value
     until the Republic expires, and the Republic will not die until it
     has lost the right to live. That may come sooner than one imagines.
     The accidental causes which may any day sweep away the régime
     include the increasing dissatisfaction caused by the horrible
     unpopularity of Parliament, which is the visible figure and the
     hidden soul of the Republic. The spectacles which it daily gives us
     reproduce the prophetic features which mark the “agony,” generally
     disgusting, of dying régimes. That, perhaps, is not a reason why
     the Empire should necessarily succeed it; but it is a reason for
     thinking of it. One may think of it in all ranks of society, and
     even in all camps, because the Empire is not a party, but a refuge.
     It is not impossible that the heir of the Napoleons may attain to
     power by the political paths that anarchy fatally opens to the
     predestined man. It is by the Consulate or the Presidency that the
     elect of his race were conducted to the throne. There is no worse
     servitude than that of oligarchies, those especially which have the
     appetites and passions of negroes. It is to this miserable
     condition of affairs--in which the germs of revolution are already,
     thank God! apparent--that Republican Parliamentarism has led us;
     and that is why from all hearts there rises the same cry of desire
     and of hope--“Exoriare aliquis!”

The years 1896 and 1898 were marked by exceptional exultation in the
Bonapartist camp. In 1896 there were serious differences amongst the
rival Orleanist factions. Some of the younger and more ardent Royalists,
recalling the début in political life of Napoleon III., were desirous of
putting forward the Duc d’Orléans as a Parliamentary candidate. The
managing committee of the party, however, decided that “a son of France
should not parody a Bonaparte.” The Duc d’Audiffret Pasquier
communicated this decision to the Duc d’Orléans, who curtly replied that
the committee should have consulted him upon the subject before
expressing an opinion. Pasquier repelled this snub by resigning his
membership of the committee, which, guided by Buffet, De Broglie, and
d’Haussonville, was accused by the stalwarts of lack of energy in the
propaganda. A cleavage seemed imminent among the Royalist sections, for
many Catholics abandoned the party, and the Pope repudiated it.

Taking advantage of the misfortunes of others, the Bonapartists became
more of a militant party. On August 15, 1898 (the old Napoleonic
fête-day), they mustered in force at a banquet, made speeches ridiculing
the Republic, and cheered to the echo a letter from the Pretender
containing a promise to “appear at the proper moment,” which he
declared to be “at hand.” In the intervening thirteen years the
Royalists have done most of the “shouting,” or, rather, it has been done
by the “Camelots du Roy,” led by the two sons of the late Paul de
Cassagnac, M. Léon Daudet, and even M. Henri Rochefort!


The marriage contract of Prince Napoleon and Princesse Clémentine was
signed at Brussels on November 7, 1910.

The banns of marriage were published on October 9, on which day the
subjoined official announcement was affixed to the notice-board of the
Hôtel de Ville at Brussels, where it remained for ten days, in
compliance with the law:

     A marriage is to take place at Moncalieri (Italy) between his
     Imperial Highness Prince Napoleon Victor Gerome Frederick,
     domiciled in Paris, 8th Arrondissement (Seine, France), living at
     Brussels, No. 241, Avenue Louise, eldest son of his late Imperial
     Highness Prince Napoleon Joseph Charles Paul and of Her Imperial
     and Royal Highness the Dowager Princess Marie Clotilde Napoleon,
     Princess of Savoy, domiciled and residing at the Royal Castle of
     Moncalieri, near Turin (Italy), and Her Royal Highness Princess
     Clementine Albertine Marie Leopoldine, Princess of Belgium, Duchess
     of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, domiciled at Brussels, No. 1, Place des
     Palais, eldest[173] daughter of his late Majesty Leopold Louis
     Philippe Marie Victor, Leopold II., King of the Belgians, Duke of
     Saxe, Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and of her late Majesty Marie
     Henriette Anne, Queen of the Belgians, Archduchess of Austria.

English people of all creeds will learn with surprise and amusement that
the Government of the French Republic will not allow Prince Napoleon to
be described in official documents published in France as “Imperial”;
nor may his father (the late Prince “Jérôme”) or his mother (Princesse
Clotilde, daughter of the renowned Victor Emmanuel II.) be so
designated, even in banns of marriage.

Prince Napoleon was described in the “banns” published at Brussels and
at Moncalieri as having a “domicile” in the 8th Arrondissement,
Paris--as, in fact, he always has had, although the law prevents him
from entering his native country. The document containing an
announcement of the marriage was affixed to the wall of the Mairie of
the 8th Arrondissement, Paris, but the words “Imperial” and “domiciled
in Paris” were suppressed by the “Parquet” (otherwise the Public

Many who read the banns of marriage were probably surprised at finding
that neither in that document nor in other official papers does Prince
Napoleon use the historic name of “Bonaparte.” I may, therefore, explain
that under the Second Empire it was decreed by a Family Statute that
henceforward “Napoleon” should be the designation of those branches of
the Imperial Family who might be called upon to reign. The other members
of the family preserved the name of “Bonaparte,” but constituted the
“civil” family of the Emperor Napoleon III., and were not included in
the “Imperial” Family. This distinction is noted in the “Almanach de
Gotha” without explanation--an omission which should be rectified in
future editions of the world’s libro d’oro.[174]

In the _Times_ of November 26, 1909, it was noted that “Prince Victor
Napoleon Bonaparte, after a week’s stay at the Savoy Hotel, left
yesterday for Brussels.”

Our official Court Circular of the same date described the Pretender as
“His Imperial Highness Prince Napoleon Bonaparte.”

Both those designations are incorrect. Upon the death of his father
(1891), Victor, as eldest son, became “Prince Napoleon”; and it will be
observed that in the original banns of marriage he is so styled, plus
his Christian names, “Victor Gerome [correctly “Jérôme”] Frederick.”

For the solemnization of these princely imperial and royal nuptials on
November 14, 1910, the old château of Moncalieri shook off the dust of
centuries; the chevaliers, in their suits of mail, who sleep their last
long sleep under the tombstones; the more modern heroes, whose great
deeds are narrated in the war-pictures adorning the immense and
melancholy corridors--all these reawoke for some days. Momentarily they
saw once more the venerable citadel, perched, like a great eagle’s nest,
on the flank of the picturesque hills leaning over the River Po, a few
miles from Turin, in which, for so many lustres, Princesse Clotilde has
unrolled the autumnal stages of her saintly existence, divided between
penance and charity. At the jubilant strains of the “Alléluia” the old
home of the Princes of Piedmont, which resembles a fortress charged to
watch over the mausoleum of the Superga,[175] saw itself resuscitated.

After these rapid souvenirs we ascend the slopes of the park, arrest our
steps on the terrace to admire the magnificent panorama of the immense
valley of the Po; then enter this moyen-âge château, with its
interminable galleries and great salles, ordinarily so solitary and
indescribably sombre, but to-day rejuvenated, made comfortable, bedecked
with sumptuous stuffs, with carpets and with flowers, luxuriously
furnished by royal command--by the orders of the King of Italy. And it
is the Administration of the Royal Domains which has sent to Moncalieri
the beautiful services of plate for the wedding repast--something
between a State déjeuner and a State banquet. King Victor Emmanuel III.
had indeed, with kindly and generous tyranny, decreed that, although
celebrated with the strictest princely privacy, there should be lacking
no noble and dignified elements in the solemnization of the marriage of
his cousin-german--great-nephew of Napoleon I., Emperor of the French,
King of Italy--and Princesse Clémentine of Belgium, daughter and
granddaughter of two great monarchs, and great-granddaughter of Louis
Philippe I., King of the French.

If Prince Napoleon was married at his mother’s residence, and in the
midst of his nearest relatives, it was far otherwise with Princesse
Clémentine, who, for political reasons, had to make a long journey to
obtain the fulfilment of a happiness which she had so long awaited. She
had, however, even before the marriage, been received in Italy, not only
as a Princess, but as a relative. The daughter of Queen Henrietta,
Archduchess of Austria, the Princesse is, in fact, distantly related to
the Italian royal family, and, previous to her alliance with Prince
Napoleon, “dispensations” had to be obtained from Rome.

By yet another delicate attention of the King of Italy, Princesse
Clémentine and her aunt, the widowed Comtesse de Flandre, mother of the
King of the Belgians, who accompanied her to the altar, were not
obliged, before the wedding, to face the ennui--in such
circumstances--inseparable from the occupation of apartments at an
hotel. The left wing of the Royal Palace at Turin was, for the special
gratification of these two royal ladies, decorated as it is on great
fête-days; and it was through a forest of chrysanthemums, adorning even
the portraits of their ancestors, that they entered the old palace of
the Kings of Sardinia. The Dowager Duchesse d’Aoste (Princesse Lætitia)
presided, with her wonted taste and grace, over the installation of the
apartments reserved for the two Princesses and their suite; and it was
Princesse Lætitia who, earlier in the year, had chaperoned the fiancée
on her first visit to her future mother-in-law at Moncalieri, the scene
of the fiançailles.

H.I.H. Prince Napoleon arrived at the château of Moncalieri three days
before the wedding, attended by M. Thouvenel, the senior member of the
Prince’s service d’honneur, and by the Marquis de Girardin (who had
accompanied the Prince from Brussels). The other members of the suite
were lodged at Turin. Princesse Lætitia and her son and General Prince
Louis Napoleon stayed at the château of Moncalieri.

At half-past ten on the morning of the wedding the Princes, Princesses,
and their suites assembled in the large salon des Suisses, in which the
Mayor of Moncalieri (M. Protti) celebrated the civil marriage of the
imperial and royal couple. The witnesses at this function were the Comte
de Salemi (son of H.I.H. Princesse Lætitia), the Marquis Ferreri di
Cambiano (Deputy for Moncalieri), Comte Balbo Bertone di Sambuy, and
Comte Negri di Lamporo, the two latter being selected as residing at
Moncalieri (the Italian law requiring that two of the witnesses at the
civil union are residents of the place of the marriage). After the brief
ceremony, the Mayor expressed his hopes that the future of the imperial
couple would be of the happiest; then, on behalf of the Municipality of
Moncalieri, he gave Prince Napoleon the gold pen with which the act of
marriage had been signed; and to the Princesse the Mayor presented a
bouquet of orchids. The procès-verbal of the civil marriage was
afterwards registered at the French Consulate at Turin.

The religious marriage was solemnized in the chapel (which is decorated
with frescoes) of the château. Green plants and white chrysanthemums
covered the altar.

Prince Napoleon (who escorted his mother, Princesse Marie Clotilde
Napoleon) was in plain evening dress, over which appeared the riband of
the Order of Leopold, which had been sent to him through Prince Ernest
de Ligne on the previous day by King Albert. (Some saw in the sombre
garb of the bridegroom the symbol of exile.)

Princesse Clémentine, radiant in beauty and charm, looking equally
majestic and amiable, came next, on the arm of her brother-in-law,
Prince Philippe de Saxe-Coburg (who married, and separated from,
Princesse Louise of Belgium). The bride’s magnificent robe was of
embroidered white satin, covered with lace; her veil and corsage, of
exquisite lace, were the gift of a number of Belgian ladies--in fact,
the subscribers were the “ladies of all Belgium.”

Following the bride came--

H.R.H. the Duc d’Aoste and the Queen-Mother Marguerite (mother of the
present King of Italy);

Prince Ernest de Ligne and H.R.H. the Comtesse de Flandre;

H.I.H. Prince Louis Napoleon and his sister, H.I.H. Princesse Lætitia,
Duchesse Douairière d’Aoste;

H.R.H. the Comte de Turin and H.R.H. the Duchesse de Gênes;

H.R.H. the Duc de Gênes;

H.R.H. the Duc de Abruzzes;

Comte de Salemi (son of Princesse Lætitia and nephew of the bridegroom);

Prince d’Udine;

Duc de Pistoie;

Duc de Bergame (son of the Duc de Gênes); and

M. de Borchgrave (Belgian Chargé d’Affaires at Rome).

The witnesses at the religious ceremony were Prince Philippe de
Saxe-Coburg and Prince Ernest de Ligne--representing the King of the
Belgians; Prince Louis Napoleon, and the Duc d’Aoste (the former
representing his brother, and the last attending as proxy for the King
of Italy).

Other witnesses were--

For PRINCE NAPOLEON: M. Thouvenel, Marquis de Girardin, Baron de Serlay,
Prince Aymon de Lucinge, Lieutenant-Colonel Nitot, Baron Antoine de
Brimont, and Monsieur H. Beneyton (His Imperial Highness’s Private

For PRINCESSE CLÉMENTINE: Comtesse d’Ursel, Baronne d’Hoogworst, Mlle.
de Bassompierre (all three Belgian ladies), General Daelman (Belgian
chevalier d’honneur), and Mlle. de Bassano (a French lady).[176]

The dames d’honneur of Queen Marguerite and of Princesse Lætitia were
also witnesses.

H.R.H. the Comtesse de Flandre was attended by the Vicomte de Beughem,
grand-maître of Her Royal Highness’s household; and by the Comtesse de
Borchgrave, dame d’honneur.

Mass was said by Monsignor Masera, Bishop of Biella, who used the
historical chalice presented to Princesse Clotilde on the day of her
marriage by King Jérôme, who for a while reigned in Westphalia. Two of
Princesse Clotilde’s chaplains assisted the Bishop, who delivered a very
inspiring address, recalling the great deeds of the ancestors of the
bridal pair.

The music was exclusively Beethoven’s and Mendelssohn’s, and included
the latter’s celebrated “Wedding March.”

There were no street or any other decorations in the little town. This
accorded with the wishes of Princesse Clotilde, who took the greatest
pains to avoid all possibility of political embarrassments. In this
laudable task she was seconded by Prince Napoleon, who, ever since the
death of the Prince Imperial and his consequent succession to the rôle
of Pretender to the throne, has evinced the most commendable desire to
remain outside the pale of politics.

Princesse Napoleon’s wedding-presents were artistically arranged in one
of the large salons. They were of the estimated value of 2,500,000
francs (£100,000). The Empress Eugénie sent Her Imperial and Royal
Highness a diamond tiara; the King of Italy a diamond diadem. A group of
French ladies presented the Princesse with a very handsome
toilette-service (table coiffeuse is the technical name for it).[177]
This artistic gift consists of a magnificent toilette, Empire style, in
mahogany, on which stand the various items of a magnificent nécessaire
in silver gilt, also in the purest “Empire,” executed, from several
famous models of the art of the First Empire, by MM. Falize, of Paris.
Accompanying this “all-French” gift was a livre d’or, containing the
names of all the donors. Several of the subscribers were persons in the
humblest walks of life, and their names were read by the Prince and
Princesse with much emotion.

When the “ladies of Belgium” asked the Princess what form she would like
their wedding-gift to take, she expressed her patriotic preference for
lace, because she would be stimulating a national industry. Her Royal
Highness’s choice highly gratified the presentation committee, at the
head of which were Her Highness Princesse Ernest de Ligne and the
Comtesse de Smet de Naeyer, two of the most popular leaders of Brussels
society. This beautiful gift (veil and corsage) was presented to
Princesse Clémentine at the Palais Belle-Vue, accompanied by a
splendidly-bound album containing the names of all the subscribers.

The Princess’s intimate friends greatly admired the Empress Eugénie’s
wedding-gift--a tiara of brilliants--the stones being specially selected
and set in the most artistic manner. Her Imperial Majesty is a
connaisseuse in precious stones of every description, especially
diamonds and emeralds, of which, as well as pearls, she still possesses
a large collection. The wearing of gems she has discarded for forty
years, with the exception of one occasion--that of the visit to
Farnborough Hill of the King and Queen of Spain--when, at the State
dinner and the “At Home” the same evening, one small jewel was
observable, relieving her invariable black costume. Princesse Clémentine
received a number of smaller jewels, in the shape of pendants, earrings,
finger-rings, and hatpins, some of which came from H.I.H. Princesse
Clotilde, the Dowager Duchesse and the Duchesse d’Aoste, the Comtesse de
Flandre, and the Queens of Italy, and others from her friends in

The Empress’s wedding-present to Prince Napoleon was fully appreciated
by His Imperial Highness, whose collection of historical souvenirs has
been increased from time to time by gifts from the august lady. The
Prince’s father was a cousin of the Emperor Napoleon III., so that the
“relationship” of the Pretender and the Empress is of the slightest. As
a result of the injunctions contained in the Prince Imperial’s will,
however, the imperial lady has displayed in the fortunes of Prince
Napoleon as much kindly interest as if he were her second son. From his
men friends the Prince received a number of presents, these including
souvenirs from the Sovereigns of Austria-Hungary, Roumania, Bulgaria,
and Servia, whom he visited in 1908, when he was also the guest for
several days of the ex-Sultan of Turkey.

The honeymoon was passed in Italy. From Moncalieri the newly-married
couple went to Rome, where they were the guests for a few days of the
King and Queen of Italy at the Quirinal. The fact that they did not
visit the Pope during their stay in the Eternal City gave umbrage to a
section of the Belgian Catholics, one of their organs asserting that the
Pretender deliberately kept out of the way of His Holiness. “The
declarations made by the Prince on the day after the wedding at
Moncalieri, the incident of his recent visit to the King and Queen of
Italy, and his affected ignoring of the Vatican, have,” it was stated,
“definitely alienated from Prince and Princess Napoleon the sympathies
of the Belgian Catholics, who would, as a matter of course, have been
friendly to them by reason of the blind hatred evinced by the Catholics
towards the French Republicans.” Not since 1870, it was asserted, “has
there been witnessed the spectacle of a member of a Catholic royal
family visiting Rome without paying his respects to the Pope.”[178]

The Belgian Liberal papers expressed their gratification at the omission
of the Pretender to call upon “the prisoner of the Vatican.” “Let the
Prince become a real Liberal, and he will not have to complain of a lack
of sympathy.”

The sojourn of Prince and Princess Napoleon at Vienna was made
additionally pleasant owing to the very friendly reception given to the
former by the Emperor Francis Joseph when the Prince was entertained by
His Majesty at the Hofburg in 1908, the Pretender’s “great year” of
visits to foreign Sovereigns, including the ex-Sultan of Turkey. On that
occasion the Emperor wore, as his only decorations, the insignia of the
Legion of Honour, presented to him by Napoleon III.

The anniversary of the election of Prince Louis Napoleon (afterwards
Emperor) to the Presidency of the Republic was celebrated in 1910 by a
banquet at St. Mandé, at which there were present numerous prominent
members of the Bonapartist party. The Marquis de Dion, who presided,
expressed the hope that they would see France, “which had been struck in
its beliefs and in its dreams of social fraternity,” rally to the cause
which his party defended. During the banquet an address expressing
devotion to “the cause” was telegraphed to the Prince; and another was
sent to the Princess, congratulating her upon “bringing to the defenders
of the plebiscitary doctrine the support of her great charm and her
tenacious energy to secure the triumph of the great name of Napoleon.”

Italy--both in the official world and in the Press--was somewhat gênée
by Prince Napoleon’s marriage. From all that was said and printed it
appeared clear that neither the Court, nor the Government, nor the more
influential journals had ventured to give to the wedding of the grandson
of Victor Emmanuel II. and cousin of the reigning King the importance
and the éclat with which they would have surrounded the nuptial fêtes of
any Prince who was not, like Victor Napoleon, the issue, through his
mother, of the stock of the Savoys. M. Jean Carrère told in the _Temps_,
in November, 1910, that a very influential Italian politician had said
to him at the period of the nuptials at Moncalieri: “Do you not think
that all the noise made in the Press will disturb your [French]
compatriots, and will make them believe that Italy supports the dynastic
claims of the heir of the Napoleons?”

How many others in Italy (asked M. Carrère) still believe that
contemporary France is vaguely susceptible in all matters relating to
the Pretenders? But times have greatly changed since the expulsion of
the Orleanist and Bonapartist Princes, “and I believe that amongst all
Frenchmen under the age of thirty the song of MacNab is as remote in
history as are the refrains of former days upon Soubise or Marlborough.
However this may be, one can only thank Italy, and especially those who
govern the country, for their extreme discretion in this event. If they
have exaggerated their scruples, it only proves how very correctly the
Court and the people have acted in respect of the French Republic.”

This intention to be agreeable to France was said to be the more
meritorious on the part of the Italians because in reality the
Bonapartes--or, if the word be preferred, the Napoleons--have remained
very popular in Italy, more particularly the Jérôme branch. The battles
of Solferino, Magenta, and Palestro, which covered the Napoleonic name
with so much lustre, are legendary. It is, however, true that Mentana
and the mistakes made towards the end of the Second Empire have slightly
tarnished the memory of Napoleon III. The souvenirs still preserved in
Italy prove that Prince Jérôme--cousin of Napoleon III. and father of
Prince Victor--did not lessen the prestige attached to the name of
Napoleon; he was, in fact, always very popular in Italy. Princesse
Lætitia, Duchesse d’Aoste Douairière, who resides at Turin, is among the
Princesses of the House of Savoy who are most loved by the people, and
she is much cheered whenever she appears at theatres or fètes. It is not
betraying a secret to recall the deep personal affection always
displayed by King Victor Emmanuel III. for his two cousins, the Princes
Victor and Louis, whose cultivated minds and serious characters he so
much appreciates.

At Moncalieri, where Princesse Clotilde’s infancy was passed, and where
her daughter, Princesse Lætitia, was married to her uncle, the Duc
d’Aoste, the widowed consort of the Emperor Napoleon’s cousin Jérôme
(whom the Emperor always addressed as “Napoleon”) saw her dearest wishes
gratified by the union of her eldest son, Prince Napoleon, with a
Princess who is exceptionally accomplished, beautiful, spirituelle,
cultivated, endowed with a taste for the arts, and a fervent Catholic,
with whom the Holy Father evidenced his great sympathy by sending her a
magnificent gift, accompanied by a much-prized autograph letter of

If, as in a vision, Princesse-mère, the august châtelaine of Moncalieri,
evoked the brilliant, or the sad, events which furrowed her life,
clouded by melancholy episodes which her ardent faith in Providence
helped her to face courageously, she saw again the fêtes celebrated for
her own marriage at Turin--the prelude to the union of her beloved Savoy
with France; the cradle of her House offered in exchange for an
independence which France--the France of the Pale Emperor--assisted the
Italians to obtain; she saw again the struggle between the newly-born
Italy and the Holy See; and she saw herself, the patient and devoted
wife, bien Française in the moment of danger, refusing, in a charming
letter, the asylum offered to her by her father, King Victor Emmanuel,
when France was bleeding from the wounds inflicted upon her in the year
of disaster. “At this moment,” wrote Princesse Clotilde to her father,
“I cannot accept your advice, because, if I fled from France, my sons
would blush for me, and you know that the House of Savoy and fear have
never met. You would not wish them to meet in me.” Similarly noble
sentiments were contained in a memorable letter written by Queen
Catherine to the King of Würtemburg, when, urged by her father in 1814
to forsake King Jérôme and take refuge at Stuttgart, she loftily
refused, resolved to share the fate of her proscribed husband.

If, in 1870, events proved to be stronger than the firm will of
Princesse Clotilde, and if she was compelled to quit France, then in the
throes of revolution as well as war, we remember how calmly and with
what dignity, on September 5,[179] she drove en daumont to the Lyons
railway-station, traversing the quarters where the revolutionary danger
was greatest, and still saluted on all sides by a populace disarmed by
this noble woman’s courage. The Princess, looking back through the
years--through forty years!--saw herself once more at Prangins, by her
husband’s side; saw her sons en pension at Vevey; then, her consort
having returned to France after the chute of Thiers, she would have
recalled her arrival at Moncalieri, her home ever since.

At Moncalieri, then, the Princesse Clotilde has voluntarily lived her
cloistered life. Not, however, that she has ever failed to discharge her
family duties. Twice she journeyed to Rome--the first time in January,
1878. Her father, King Victor Emmanuel, was dying, and, despite her
repugnance to enter a Rome which had become the capital, she wished, as
a devoted daughter, to receive the King’s last words. Learning en route,
however, that her father had expired, she abandoned her intention of
going to Rome, and returned to Moncalieri. Early in March, 1891, her
consort, Prince (Jérôme) Napoleon, who had resided in Rome all the
winter, was struck down by an attack of nephritis, complicated by
pneumonia. The Princesse, accompanied by her daughter, the Duchesse
d’Aoste, set out once more for Rome. Only a very few persons are
acquainted with the incidents of the Prince’s last illness, and I will
not recall those painful episodes. One detail may, however, be recorded
here, as it shows how the perseverance of Princesse Clotilde triumphed
on that melancholy occasion. Twice had Cardinal Mermillod knelt by the
bedside of the dying Prince, who was still fully conscious. When the
Bishop of Geneva left the sick-room the second time, he seemed relieved
of a great weight, and the face of Princesse Clotilde evidenced her
gratitude at the “good end” made by her husband.[180] With her children
she watched, praying--always praying--by the side of the dead. After
the interment at the Superga (March 30) the widowed Princesse took the
hands of her children, joined them in hers, and said: “Promise to remain
united.” They promised, and they have kept their word. Princesse
Clotilde was last seen in Paris during the illness and at the death of
Princesse Mathilde, the cousin of Napoleon III. On that occasion she
fulfilled once again the rôle of a sœur de charité.[181]


Perhaps--I do not assert it--secret party meetings have been, and are,
held now and again at No. 241, Avenue Louise, in those beautiful salons,
so rich in relics, or in the garden of the imperial residence, now more
than ever an object of public curiosity, with its modest blue stone
façade and its oak door with carved eagles, guarded only by those tall
chestnut-trees which serve as a curtain to many a demeure bourgeoise of
more ambitious aspect. The Prince’s partisans, the associates of his
hopes, evidently come and go very unobtrusively, for no one at Brussels
hears or sees anything of them. The Prince’s voice is raised at long
intervals--whenever he thinks it desirable to formulate the Imperialist
idea--in succinct and frank letters addressed, now to the Bonapartist
Committees of the Seine, anon to personalities like M. Malbert. But
this is done so discreetly, these letters are written in so dignified a
style, without any reference to the question of personal banishment from
France, that the sharpest-sighted critic is unable to trace in them the
faintest infraction of the duty which an exile owes to a country which
shelters him.

Prince Napoleon returns to Brussels from his rare visits to the Empress
Eugénie at Farnborough Hill, and to his sister, the Duchesse d’Aoste
Douairière, at Turin, without getting himself talked about; for on no
account would he say or do anything which might compromise the country
in which he has found an agreeable asylum for half his life. When he
comes to England two lines in the “Times,” “Telegraph,” or “Post”
sometimes announce the fact, either on his arrival or departure. His
“movements” at the Carlton or the Savoy (the hotels of his predilection)
are not watched and reported upon; the names of his visitors are not
publicly, or even privately, mentioned. His friendly visit to King
Manoel at Buckingham Palace in November, 1909, was recorded in the Court
Circular (which scrupulously noted his rank of “Imperial” Highness) and
mentioned in the “Times”--that was all. And perhaps it was enough; for
the Prince it was certainly ample. Let him alone, and he is grateful.

It was amusingly said of him by a Brussels critic: “Prince Napoleon is a
Pretender who seems to have no pretensions.” Probably the author of the
mot was unaware of the homage which he was paying to the Prince’s
correct interpretation of a rôle so difficult to sustain.

The daily life of the Prince has never ceased to be governed, in all its
details, by the same prudent and admirable reserve. His existence is
that of a grand seigneur, too distinguished to “make an exhibition of
himself” for the entertainment of the crowd, too cultivated not to know
how to vary the preoccupations of an exile by useful toil. In the
morning one may often catch a flying glimpse of his tall, robust,
dominating figure among the riders galloping in the beautiful Bois de la
Cambre, or at the “meets” of M. Saint-Pol de Sinçay and of the Prince de
Chimay. But he is seldom to be seen in the afternoon. He is then at
home, studying some work on political economy or some scientific volume,
or, to assist his memory concerning some historical point, turning the
leaves of one or other of the 6,000 books composing his “Napoleonic”
library--those 6,000 volumes of the prodigious annals of the Revolution,
the Consulate, and the Empire. The Prince’s library is, of its special
kind, unique. Of his collection of books and relics he has said:[182] “I
live my darkest hours in the midst of souvenirs of the First Emperor.
Each one of these, in recalling a period of his life, teaches me a
lesson. Force has driven me from the cradle and from the tomb of the
great Emperor. I take refuge in his thoughts. To him alone I go to ask
for inspirations.”

If you have been granted an audience of the Prince--a favour not
accorded to more than a very few of those who seek it, unless an
application is well backed--you wait your turn in one of the rooms on
the left of the entrance-hall, into which you have been shown by a
footman in a light-coloured livery. Here you may find a few of the
Prince’s friends who have come from Paris to spend the day with him, and
who will leave in these rooms some “good mouthfuls” of the air of

When the moment arrives for your interview with the Prince, you pass
through a vestibule gleaming with white marble, and your gaze falls upon
a bronze statuette of Bonaparte, at the age of twelve, reading a book.
You proceed through a vast corridor, paved, like the vestibule, with
white marble. Before entering the cabinet in which Prince Napoleon
receives his visitors, you cast an admiring coup d’œil upon a spacious
landing where portraits and statues of the imperial family form an
incomparable museum, seeming to mount guard on the threshold of this
last representative of the Bonapartes. They are all here--the
grandfathers and the grandmothers. Here Lætitia, robust and bonne, in
her ample senaro of a Roman matron, regards reposefully her peaceable
husband. Neither this Corsican--a humble deputy of the island, not long
become French--nor this Florentine, by origin and temperament, seems to
divine, around the head of the pale infant before them, the unperishable
aureole that awaits him. There Bonaparte, at all the ages of his life,
and at all the stages of his apotheosis, glances, with his cold eye, at
the Kings his brothers and the Queens his sisters. Here is Joseph of
Spain, whose handsome and open countenance is less that of a King than
of a dilettante, épris of belles-lettres. Here is Louis of Holland, with
the cunning eye, observing, not without melancholy, Hortense de
Beauharnais, who seems to turn her head from him. Here is Jérôme of
Westphalia, sanguine, ready-witted, adventurous, regretting that
Napoleon had not allowed him to conquer the crown by his own daring. He
avenged himself, however, many times--among others, on the day when,
not yet having a hair upon his face, he bought, for 12,000 francs
(£480), at the Emperor’s expense (!), at the sign of the “Singe Violet,”
the famous travelling “necessary,” with its ivory-handled razors and
silver-plated wash-hand basins.

Then, in this marvellous gallery, come the women. Here is Pauline
Borghèse, an ideal Diane chasseresse--Canova’s. You remember this
marvellous creature’s reply to someone who had reproached her for posing
for this statue in her splendid nudity, “Oh, il y avait un poèle!” (But
there was a fire!). You linger a moment to gaze upon Joséphine de
Beauharnais, like the lava of a sleeping volcano under the calm envelope
of this warm beauty of the isles of the West--this mortal who, as
someone has said, “had the audacity to love a god.” And here is the
Archduchesse Louise, in the midst of her parrots and her dogs,
indifferent and dreamy as an Austrian woman, and also as far from
Napoleon as from the Schönbrunn, which she prefers even to the

Napoleon III., fearing lest you should surprise him in the midst of his
dreams, flies from you, his eyes almost effaced, as if lost in a mist.
Here is Eugénie, reigning as much by her blonde beauty as by that
imperial crown whose gold seems to be expiring in her glowing hair. Her
eyes, in particular, strike you as strange--tranquil eyes, with their
far-off, melancholy look; eyes like two tears; eyes which are about to
weep, whose too large eyelids resemble inexhaustible wells, from which
sorrow has nothing more to do but to draw the water. Last of all, there
is Napoleon IV., with the eyes, the look, and all the sweet resignation
of his mother: the “little Prince,” in the bearskin of the Imperial
Guard; the Prince, grown taller, as the Woolwich cadet; the
Prince--having attained his majority--in a British soldier’s cap,
mournfully posed upon that languid head, already enveloped by the night
of Death.

But you have arrived at the door of the Prince’s cabinet, an immense
room; and here is the Prince himself, giving you a hearty and hospitable
shake of the hand. The Prince’s broad chest, strong head, wide
shoulders, and firm pressure of the hand which clasps yours indicate
frankness and sympathy.

“Victor or Napoleon? Say, rather, a Savoyard!” exclaimed one of his
opponents, who, however, could not more aptly have described or more
pleased the Prince. Prince Victor is a Napoleon through his father, a
Savoyard through his mother, whose saintly virtues do honour to the
upright, proud character of her son. A little habit of the Prince amuses
you: when he speaks he takes the large triple ring from the finger on
his right hand and transfers it mechanically to his left hand. You note
also that his deep, strong voice is well fitted to utter words of
command--like that of all the Napoleons. The Republic of which he is so
fond of talking is neither Liberal nor Conservative, but an
“authoritative” Republic, with its hierarchical chief at its head.

His words, energetically hammered out, resound through the large salon,
full of cases containing the spolia opima of nearly a century of
imperial grandeurs. Here are sabres, there swords; elsewhere crosses and
medals; hats, browned by powder; redingotes, no longer grey, but faded,
colourless. Ah! that Napoleon--what rays of light he leaves behind him
in his hats, his greatcoats, and his swords, the latter still gleaming,
and all forming a noble cradle for the heir, born to preserve the
immortal memory of the great Emperor! These bullets, mortars, swords,
guns, banners, hats, greatcoats, spurs--all the conqueror’s battle
paraphernalia, sorted and classified--must perturb the mind of even the
most stoical and unsympathetic; and the chances are that you will leave
No. 241 without having studied the Napoleon of to-day as calmly and as
thoroughly as you had intended to. In that dominating head there is a
mixture of the Carignan Savoyards and the Napoleon Bonapartes. The
convex forehead, arched, low, stubborn, is that of Clotilde, his mother.
The moustache, long and sèche, is that of King Humbert, his uncle; but
it is in the chin, prominent and handsome as that in a Greek statue; it
is in the black eyes, sphinx-like in their penetration, and as
steel-bright as an eagle’s (as is said of the Bonapartes), that Prince
Napoleon so strongly resembles his father, as that father resembled
Napoleon I. Summing up, you feel that you have seen a Prince robust
alike in body and mind--mens sana in corpore sano. France, without
distinction of party, may be proud of this scion of a glorious race. And
who knows if the Republic is not damaged by depriving itself of the
services of this citizen?

Some of the privileged few who are received by this descendant of
Napoleon I., in the midst of those rare prints which faithfully
reproduce the episodes of that dazzling career, have dined or supped off
the selfsame campaign plate on which were served the hasty repasts of
the conqueror of Austerlitz or of Jena before or after the victory. “The
privileged ones of whom I speak,” says the most amiable and gifted of
confrères, M. Gérard Harry, “are numerically few, mais de choix. By his
admirable fulfilment of the rôle of a silent and studious exile, by the
charm of his conversation--the talk of an érudit and an artist--and by
his sportsmanlike qualities, Prince Napoleon has made, in the royal
family and in the ‘high society’ of Belgium, friends whose circle he has
restricted only from a sentiment of proud reserve, and the better to
preserve himself from the bothers inseparable from ‘fashionable’
existence. One seldom sees him at the theatre, concealed in the
semi-obscurity of a box, except when some chef-d’œuvre of French
dramatic art is produced; or at the Cercle Artistique et Littéraire; or
at ‘Wauxhall,’ when the attraction is some literary piece brought from
his natal land. On such occasions he is accompanied only by one or other
of the Bonapartist notabilities who come in turn from Paris, like the
‘relief’ of a guard of honour.”

I recall an audience granted by the Prince to the “Figaro” in 1910, at
which the heir of the Napoleons expressed his initiation in the art of
aviation, and his pride that Frenchmen of to-day--Frenchmen of the
Republic--have been the heroes and the conquerors of so many aerial

That so many merits should have attracted Princesse Clémentine is not
more surprising than the attachment of the Prince to a King’s daughter
so morally royal. This youngest of the daughters of Leopold II. has the
same tastes as her consort--a heart as French as his own. It was her
affection for France which led her for so many years to make one of the
Mediterranean plages--St. Raphael--her winter home. She is the only one
of the daughters of King


The Empress. Comte Primoli. M. Pietri.


The Empress Joséphine died in this room on June 1, 1814.

     _Courteously lent by the Proprietors of the illustrated Paris
     journal, “Femina.” The Photograph by “Central-Photo,” Paris._

_To face p. 368._]

Leopold who did not trouble his last years; and she set a good example
to others by submitting to her father’s rigorous will, and by delaying
an alliance which she so long desired. Her artistic education and her
penchant for “glory” make her the ideal companion of an exiled Prince.

From the outset of her acquaintance with the Prince, Princesse
Clémentine has been a fervent upholder of the Napoleonic legend, and has
made a close study of the works of M. Frédéric Masson, M. Émile
Ollivier, and other historians of the First and Second Empires. She, at
all events, does not regard the imperial cause as a lost one; and her
friends laughingly assert that she is really plus Bonapartiste que le
Prince. In her new home she is surrounded by many historical emblems of
her culte--precious souvenirs of the First and Third Emperors and of the
ill-fated “Napoléon Quatre,” these latter including presents from the
Empress and others bequeathed to the present Head of the House of
Bonaparte by the “little Prince” himself.

From her birth Princesse Clémentine was linked in relationship--very
slightly, only in the seventh degree--to Prince Napoleon; for the
youngest daughter of Leopold II. had for her maternal granduncle the
Archduke Régnier of Austria, great-grandfather of the Prince-Pretender.
But “the élans of two hearts are of more avail as a means of bringing
two persons together than the drooping boughs of two genealogical

Prince Napoleon’s exile dates from a quarter of a century ago; and some
ten years have elapsed since there was an entente cordiale between His
Imperial Highness and Princesse Clémentine. There was one obstacle (and,
let it be emphatically said here, only one) in the way of a realization
of their hopes--the fatal raison d’état! King Leopold was, or professed
to be, haunted by the fear that such an alliance might possibly place
Belgium in a delicate position vis-à-vis the French Republic. Has that
apprehension vanished? Anyway, “Leopold the Builder” has gone to his
last account, and Princesse Napoleon is not the daughter, but simply the
cousin, of the reigning Sovereign.

     Machiavelli outlined the line of conduct to be followed by Princes
     who reign or who will surely reign. He would, perhaps, have found
     it difficult to formulate the troublesome rules of existence of a
     Pretender in exile, who is obliged to firmly maintain his
     historical rights to the government of a neighbouring country, and
     to keep them sufficiently in the background, so that they may not
     compromise the nation which shelters him and whose hospitality he
     enjoys. How many banished Princes have known how to comply with two
     such contradictory conditions? The Comte de Chambord, Victor Hugo,
     and General Boulanger failed to grasp this essential point, and had
     to leave Belgian territory. It is by having known, since June,
     1886, by his consummate tact, how to scrupulously respect the laws
     of hospitality, without in the slightest degree abdicating his
     dynastic claims, that Prince Napoleon has secured the respect and
     esteem of all Belgians, whether Conservatives or Liberals. They
     thank their guest because he has never been the cause of the least
     friction between Belgium and the French Republic; and they have
     admired him because, without going back upon his principles, he has
     never troubled the friendly relations which exist between Belgium
     and France.[184]

By the civil law of Belgium, Princesse Clémentine was under no
obligation (her father being dead) to request permission to marry. When
the Constitution was revised in 1893 a clause was inserted providing
that any “Prince” who married without the consent of the King would lose
all rights to the Crown. No mention was made of “Princesses.” If Prince
Napoleon had married the Princesse and created difficulties of an
international character during her father’s lifetime, the Government, by
virtue of Article 1 of the Law of February 12, 1897, could have expelled
him from Belgium. King Leopold’s death changed the situation.

By her marriage Princesse Napoleon became connected with a reigning King
(Victor Emmanuel), a former Queen (Maria Pia of Portugal), and a former
Empress (Eugénie). One of her aunts (the Comtesse de Flandre) is the
mother of a King (Belgium), and another aunt is an ex-Empress (of
Mexico). The latter was deprived of her reason when on her fruitless
mission to Napoleon III. and to Pope Pius IX. to crave their support for
her consort, and was thus spared all knowledge of the execution by the
insurgents at Queretaro, in June, 1867, of the Emperor Maximilian,
brother of the present Emperor of Austria-Hungary. For forty-four years
the Empress Charlotte has lived in complete seclusion in the residences
provided for her by her brother, the late King of the Belgians--first,
at the château of Tervueren, which was destroyed by fire in 1874; and
then at the château of Bouchout, a few miles from the Royal Palace at
Laeken. The veuve tragique (as the Empress of Austria pathetically
described her) wore her imperial crown for only three years--a period of
continuous anxiety, trouble, and bitter humiliations. She had a devoted
friend in the late Queen of the Belgians, and she found another in
Princesse Clémentine.

Princesse Napoléon’s arrival at and departure from the church at which
she hears Mass on Sundays is witnessed by an eager and admiring crowd of
“the faithful”--and others; and she herself related this little episode
to the eminent Belgian sculptor, M. Lucien Pallez, one day, when she was
sitting for the bust which was completed in April, 1911. As Her Imperial
Highness was leaving the church she heard a young girl of the people say
to a companion: “How happy our Princesse looks!” This tribute, said the
sculptor to a friend, touched her more than all her wedding-presents.
The impression of supreme elegance which one derives from a glance at
the bust--a chef-d’œuvre of Pallez--results from the harmony of the
lines and the graceful curve of the neck and shoulders. The general
allure of the bust recalls the Dianes chasseresses of the Renaissance.
“I had only to look at my model to get my inspiration,” said the
sculptor. On the imperial lady’s head (coiffée in Empire style) is a
diamond and pearl diadem; the delicate ears and the supple neck are
unadorned. M. Pallez has previously exhibited at the Paris Salon busts
of the young Queen of Spain and the Queen-Mother, Pope Pius X., and
Cardinal Rampolla.

The German Emperor and Empress met H.I.H. Princesse Clémentine for the
first time during their visit to Brussels in the autumn of 1910. Prince
Napoléon had a long conversation with the Emperor William, whom the
Bonapartist Prince had not previously met. The Kaiser had, however, made
the acquaintance of the Empress Eugénie in July, 1907, when Her Imperial
Majesty received him one Sunday on board her yacht _Thistle_ off Bergen.
It was a memorable meeting, but not a single detail of the interview has
ever been published, and never will be during the Empress’s lifetime.


Some two months prior to the marriage the illustrious fiancés visited
Farnborough Hill, where, in the Empress’s Oratory, the nuptials would
have been solemnized but for the weak health of the Prince’s mother, Her
Imperial and Royal Highness Princesse Clotilde.

Prince Napoléon’s consort was no stranger to the august lady who
entertained her in Hampshire in September, 1910; for the Princesse, her
sister Stéphanie, and their father were the Empress Eugénie’s guests at
Cap Martin some few seasons ago. To her unfeigned gratification, the
Empress witnessed the enactment, chez elle, of an idyll the consequences
of which may ultimately prove to be of high import to Europe. “The
legends woven by the peoples around their Sovereigns must not be
destroyed,” said the Empress one day. Prince Napoléon’s prospects of
ruling France may not be very apparent at the moment; nor, in June,
1870, was the downfall of the Second Empire deemed within the region of
possibility. But one September morning that terrible “shout from Paris”
went up, and the imperial crown “flew off” with a suddenness which
startled and thrilled the world. In France, more surely than in any
other country, it is “the unexpected” which happens oftenest; and it may
be that one day there may be another plébiscite, and that another
Bonaparte may be invested with the imperial purple.

It needs a Ruskin or a Matthew Arnold to depict the Nature-glories of
Farnborough Hill, the scene of this idyll. The rustic gabled mansion,
the terraced slopes, the bosky lanes and dells, the “forest” which
skirts the imperial domain, and the smiling Arcadian landscape provide
all the materials for a great painter’s canvas, a poet’s tuneful lay.
“How many walks,” says one of the venerable châtelaine’s French guests,
“I recall in the alleys of the park at Farnborough Hill in the evenings
of glorious days; or in winter, when the great trees were powdered with
frosty rime, giving to the English landscape the semblance of some
phantom picture; or in the early morning, in the second park, which has
been christened ‘Compiègne,’ planted with rhododendrons and young
pine-trees. The black dogs gambol round us, now racing off like mad
things, then returning at the call of their mistress. The Empress’s firm
voice mounts higher and higher in the pure invigorating air, as, leaning
on her cane, with which she taps the sandy path, she gazes around,
drinking in the freshness of the morning which she loves. Her features
are more than usually animated. ‘Compiègne’ has revived memories of the

In “Compiègne,” those glorious autumn days, the story which is never old
was once more told, to the accompaniment of the birds’ music and the
rustle of the falling leaves, with, for spectator, an Empress,
dethroned, ’tis true, but perhaps greater in her fall than in her
elevation. Amid these beautiful surroundings, gladdened by the sympathy
of one who has seen the world at her feet, the lovers’ days flew on
lightning wing. For the Princesse, whose charm exercised a spell over
all, those September days were of the nature of an imperial fête. The
“auto” in which she and the Prince sped through the Hampshire and
Berkshire lanes was not, certainly, preceded by piqueurs in the
green-and-gold livery of the vénerie of the other Compiègne; but, to
compensate for the absence of such luxe, the imperial guests revelled in
that blissful solitude which is the one thing needful for the complete
enjoyment of “love’s young dream.”

An excursion to Windsor awakened memories of happy days which the
Princesse had spent at the royal château with her father as guests of
the beloved “Great Queen,” whose good graces King Leopold’s youngest
daughter enjoyed to the full. And, further, she was befriended at
Sandringham by the then “Prince” and “Princess.” In Victorian days, too,
Prince Victor had received hospitable entertainment at Windsor. His
father had presented him to the Queen at Camden Place, Chislehurst,
after the obsequies of the young Prince who had willed Prince Jérôme’s
eldest son as his successor to the headship of the House of Bonaparte.
Prince Victor could recall to his fiancée how, a score of years ago, he
was taken along those same roads to Windsor, and how, at Queen
Victoria’s dinner-table, he had met the Tsar of to-day, who later had
also his idyll on the marge of the Thames.

Accompanied by M. Franceschini Pietri, the Princesse and the Prince paid
their homage to the Empress’s beloved dead. They bore with them two
crosses of violets, which with reverent hands they laid on the tombs of
the Emperor and his son, the young victim of the assegais, who, as
Monsignor Goddard said of him, had “the soul of a Sidney and the heart
of a Bayard.” The then newly-erected arched tomb--the
“arcosolium”[186]--for the surviving member of the illustrious trio was
gazed upon by the Princesse with moistened eyes; the beautiful vestments
in the sacristy--some made by the Empress and by the widowed Duchesse de
Mouchy, the devoted friend of nearly half a century--were unfolded, to
the royal lady’s inexpressible admiration; and she was shown the
Sultan’s humeral veil; the illuminated altar-cards, whereon is traced a
passage from the Prince Imperial’s “Prayer” (said by Cardinal Manning to
be one of the most beautiful outpourings of a pure, devout soul he had
ever read); the priestly purple vestments made from the Emperor’s pall,
and the ecclesiastical apparel fashioned



     Princess George and her Consort were the guests of the King and
     Queen at the Coronation of their Majesties. The Princess is the
     only member of the House of Bonaparte who ever attended the
     Coronation of an English Sovereign. Before leaving England, Prince
     and Princess George were the guests of Her Majesty Queen Alexandra
     at Sandringham.

     _Specially photographed by Boissonas et Taponier, Paris, and lent
     for this work by H.H. Prince Roland Bonaparte._

_To face p. 376._]

out of the Empress’s wedding-robe. There were no spectators of this
pious pilgrimage of the Princesse and the Prince, or they would have
witnessed the pathetic figure of the royal pair kneeling side by side at
the foot of the high altar, and imploring the Divine blessing upon their
union. Warm thanks for his genial courtesy were bestowed upon the Lord
Abbot, Dom Cabrol, who had summoned all the members of the Benedictine
community to witness the arrival and departure of the visitors, and to
be presented to the Princesse.

Princesse Napoléon’s intimate friendship with the members of the Royal
Family dates from as far back as 1895. Queen Victoria had expressed a
wish to make the acquaintance of the youngest daughter, and on December
3 King Leopold and Princesse Clémentine proceeded to Windsor Castle,
where they spent three days. Prince Christian and Princess (and the late
Prince) Henry of Battenberg met the visitors at the railway-station, and
escorted them to the Castle. Queen Victoria’s guests at the royal
dinner-party that evening included the Belgian Minister and the Marquis
and Marchioness of Lansdowne. While at Windsor Princesse Clémentine was
taken to the cavalry barracks at Spittal, where she saw a “double ride”
by non-commissioned officers and men of the 2nd Life Guards. From
Windsor King Leopold and the Princesse went to Sandringham on a visit,
from Saturday until Monday, to the then Prince and Princess of Wales,
the former accompanying them to St. Pancras on the conclusion of their

Princesse Napoléon has two sisters: one, Stéphanie, married, as her
first husband, the Austrian Archduke Rudolf, and, secondly, Comte
Lonyay; the other, Louise, became the wife of Prince Philip of
Saxe-Coburg, a son of the celebrated Princesse Clémentine (daughter of
Louis Philippe, King of the French until his abdication in 1848), and
consequently brother of Ferdinand, King and Tsar of the Bulgarians.
Princesse Stéphanie’s widowhood was brought about by the Archduke’s
tragic death in his hunting-box at Meyerling--a mysterious drama of
which there are many versions, all of them unsatisfactory.

The story of Princesse Louise’s wedded life is only a shade less
poignant than that of her sister Stéphanie. It has been told, in all its
harrowing details, by a young Austrian officer, Count Mattachich, in a
volume which had a sale of more than 30,000 before it was seized and its
further circulation in the Austrian Empire prohibited by the Government.
It is a narrative of dissensions between Princesse Louise and her
husband, of bills of exchange bearing the signatures of herself and her
sister, the widowed Archduchess, of a charge of falsification brought
against the Lieutenant, of his imprisonment, of the placing of Princesse
Louise under surveillance as being of weak mind, and of a discussion on
all these circumstances in the Reichsrath. The death of King Leopold led
to the opening of another chapter of family quarrels relating to the
manner in which he had disposed of much of his large fortune by gifts to
the lady whom he had made Baroness Vaughan, and to whom, it was publicly
asserted by an ecclesiastical dignitary, he had been married. Princesse
Louise displayed no indications of feeble-mindedness when, in May, 1911,
she contested her father’s will. The little ironies of royal lives, as
well as those of humbler rank, are illustrated by the fact that Prince
Philip of Saxe-Coburg was among the wedding-guests bidden to Moncalieri.


Before ending this narrative of the most important event in the history
of Bonapartism since the martyrdom in Zululand of the only child of
Napoleon III. and the Empress Eugénie--that tragedy which made Prince
Victor, in accordance with the explicit terms of the Prince Imperial’s
will, Head of the House--a few lines may be fittingly devoted to the
Pretender’s brother and sister and their father.

At the period of the Prince Imperial’s death, in 1879, the Bonapartist
Pretender of to-day and his only brother, Louis, now a General in the
Russian army, were being educated in Paris. Their tutor was M. Blanchet,
one of the most eminent scholars in France. He lived at No. 13, Rue de
la Cerisaie, and the two sons of Prince Jérôme Napoleon were his only
boarders. One of my friends asked M. Blanchet if Prince Victor was
clever. “Very,” was the reply. “His early education was neglected, and
it is wonderful how he holds his own with others who began the race long
before him. [Prince Victor was then going through a year’s course at the
Lycée Charlemagne, under his tutor’s supervision.] Before he came to me
he was at a school at Vevey, and then at Vanves. He is, perhaps, best in
physical sciences, history, and French. His mathematics might be better,
but they were neglected in early youth. He excels in all field sports
and all physical exercises. His great ambition is to be a distinguished
soldier. [Later he studied at St. Cyr, the French Sandhurst.] Everything
relating to military matters interests him, and he takes special
pleasure in his fencing lessons, which are given him once a week. He is
brought up very strictly. His father desired me to train him in the most
liberal ideas, and keep him away from the many temptations which beset a
youth in Paris. He hardly ever goes to theatres and races.”

Both Prince (Victor) Napoleon and his brother have worn the uniform of
the French army. They entered the ranks as volontaires, and served for
the regulation period, one year--Victor in the artillery, and Louis in
the infantry. In 1908 Prince Napoleon made his “grand tour.” Accompanied
by Prince Aymon de Lucinge and Colonel Nicot, he visited the Emperor of
Austria-Hungary (who wore the Cross of the Legion of Honour given him by
his young friend’s relative, Napoleon III.), the ex-Sultan of Turkey,
and the Sovereigns of Bulgaria, Roumania, and Servia. In November, 1909,
he was to be seen at Buckingham Palace, in friendly converse with one
who, like himself, was to become an exile--King Manoel.

Princesse Lætitia’s marriage with her uncle, the Duc d’Aoste, aroused
intense interest in Italy in September, 1888, owing to the high position
of the bridegroom and bride and to their close relationship. The Duc’s
daughters were not over-pleased at the prospect of having a stepmother
of only two-and-twenty, who was also their cousin. Their two brothers
showed their good-feeling by desiring their father to continue to reside
at the castle of Cisterna, which had come to him by his first wife. The
bridegroom (a one-time King of Spain) was double the age of the
Princesse, who had the ripened intelligence of much older women, and
exercised great influence in the family councils, more especially over
her father. No one could manage Prince Jérôme better than Princesse
Lætitia. Sometimes he rebelled, but only to yield with the protest,
“Where did you get that strong little head?” In consenting to the
marriage, she made it a condition that she should be allowed to see her
brother, Prince Victor, as often as she chose.

Princesse Lætitia was only four when, in 1870, the day after the flight
of the Empress from the Tuileries, she left Paris with her mother for
Prangins, on the Lake of Geneva. Five years later she accompanied her
mother, Princesse Clotilde, to the château of Moncalieri, an immense
square edifice, then almost uninhabitable, situated on the hills above
Turin. Owls and bats had made their homes in the castle; the vast rooms
contain the portraits of many undistinguished members of the House of
Savoy. Here the young Princesse spent her girlhood, going daily to a
school at Turin, and, later, entering the convent school of the Sacré
Cœur at Lyons, where the Sisters of the Adoration supervised her
education. Thirsting for more knowledge after her return to Moncalieri,
she received instruction from tutors of both sexes, the present King’s
father (the ill-fated Humbert, who was assassinated at Monza) placing at
her disposal rooms in the Royal Palace at Turin. Her principal studies
were drawing, painting, music, and languages. She speaks with equal ease
French, Italian, German, and English, has still a fine voice, and sings
with taste and feeling. Turin society thought that a more suitable
consort for the Princesse would have been her cousin, the Duca delle
Puglie, then nineteen, the present head of the ducal house of Aoste, who
married the Princesse Hélène d’Orléans in 1895.

Princesse Lætitia’s wedding was not lacking in incidents. There was an
evident coolness between the members of the House of Savoy and the
Bonapartes. When the bride’s father and his youngest son, Prince Louis
(now a General in the Russian army), arrived at Turin nobody awaited
them at the station. The Court officials had been instructed to attend,
but at the last moment the order was cancelled, and Prince (Jérôme)
Napoleon and his son drove to the Hôtel de l’Europe, all the other
wedding-guests staying at the Royal Palace. Even Princesse Clotilde
abstained from meeting her consort on his arrival, and Princesse Lætitia
sided with her mother. Prince Jérôme carried his resentment so far as to
refuse to meet his eldest son, the Pretender, who was consequently, to
the general regret, not present at his sister’s wedding. These family
differences, arising out of the nomination by the Prince Imperial of
Prince Victor as his successor, had their effect upon the Empress
Eugénie, who did not attend the wedding, although she had given a
qualified promise to be present if Prince Jérôme “made it up” with his
eldest son. But even Princesse Lætitia never succeeded in bringing about
a reconciliation between her father and her brother.

Prince Jérôme Napoleon (as it has been usual, although incorrectly, to
style him) never recovered from the blow to his pride inflicted by the
Prince Imperial. He died in Rome in 1891, refusing to be reconciled to
his eldest son, and on his death-bed nominating his other son, Prince
Louis, as Head of the House of Bonaparte. That position Louis declined
to accept, and “recognized” his brother forthwith. Prince Jérôme’s death
was described by M. Duruy, son of one of the most distinguished of
Napoleon III.’s Ministers, as “the end of a dream.” Princesse Mathilde,
Jérôme’s sister, died thirteen years after her brother, and with her
passed away the last niece of the “Great” Emperor.

One act of Prince Victor’s father will always be remembered to his
credit. He condemned the declaration of war in 1870 from the first. When
the fatal missive went forth, he foresaw what would, and did, happen,
and said to the Emperor: “Tout est fini, et nous avec.” It was at
Châlons, in the “blood month,” August, that Prince Jérôme next saw his
imperial cousin. At a council held on the 17th the Prince, in angry
mood, shouted to the Emperor, racked with pain and in the deepest
despair: “To take part in this war you abdicated by leaving Paris, and
now, by leaving Metz, you have abdicated the command of the army. Unless
you cross over to Belgium, you must do one of two things--either
re-assume the command, which is impossible; or go back to Paris, which
will be difficult and dangerous. But, damn it! if we _must_ fall, let us
fall like men!”

Prince Jérôme Napoleon disinherited his eldest son and his only
daughter, and left all he possessed to his second son, Prince Louis, who
has long held the rank of General in the Russian army. Prince Louis’
inheritance amounted to about £100,000; and his aunt, Princesse
Mathilde, Jérôme’s only sister, made further provision for him under her
will, leaving him also many valuable jewels and objets d’art. Scarcely
anything was left by the Prince to his wife. As a Princess of the House
of Savoy, the Italian Government allowed her £4,000 a year, a sum which,
as she had lived a very retired and simple life since her husband’s
death, sufficed for her wants. Princesse Lætitia was adequately provided
for by her consort, or she would have been practically sans le sou, and
this despite the fact that her mother brought Prince Jérôme a very
handsome dot. Jérôme dissipated many thousands in wild speculations, and
lost heavily by maintaining three newspapers--the “Peuple,” the “Ordre,”
and the “Napoléon.”

The number of Bonapartist marriages since Napoleon III. ascended the
throne is very limited. They include the wedding of the Emperor to “the
beautiful Spaniard,” Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo, “Grandee of Spain of the
first class,” in 1853; the late Prince Jérôme Napoleon (father of the
present Pretender) and Princesse Clotilde, daughter of King Victor
Emmanuel II.; the late Princesse Mathilde (sister of Prince Jérôme, and
consequently aunt of Prince Victor and General Prince Louis Napoleon),
who made an ill-starred marriage with the Russian Prince Anatole
Demidoff, Prince of San Donato; Prince Pierre Bonaparte, who, although a
first cousin of Napoleon III., made the reverse of a “great” marriage;



     _Photographed “for her friends” by Reutlinger, Paris, and lent for
     this work by H.H. Prince Roland Bonaparte._

_To face p. 384._]

Prince Roland Bonaparte (only son of Prince Pierre), who espoused a
daughter of the late M. François Blanc, of Homburg and Monte Carlo fame;
the recently deceased Princesse Jeanne Bonaparte (Prince Pierre’s only
daughter), who married the Marquis de Villeneuve; Princesse Lætitia
(sister of the Pretender), the widowed Dowager Duchesse d’Aoste, who
married as her second husband her uncle, the late Duc d’Aoste, the
sometime King Amadeus of Spain; and Princesse Marie Bonaparte, the only
child of Prince Roland, the consort of H.R.H. Prince George of Greece, a
nephew of Queen Alexandra.

On April 2, 1910, at St. Paul’s, Grove Park, Chiswick, Miss Gertrude
Crowther married Mr. Napoleon Gerald Bonaparte-Wyse, youngest son of the
late Mr. C. W. Bonaparte-Wyse, of the manor of St. John’s, Waterford,
and grandson of the late Right Hon. Sir W. T. Wyse, K.C.B., and
Princesse Lætitia Bonaparte, daughter of Prince Lucien, brother of
Napoleon I. There is a species of relationship--very remote, it is
true--between Madame Sarah Bernhardt and one branch of the Bonaparte
family. Prince Lucien, brother of Napoleon I., married as his second
wife a Mlle. de Bleschamp, mother of Prince Pierre Bonaparte, Prince
Roland’s father. Her daughter, by her marriage with a M. Maurice
Jablonowski (her second husband), had a son, who, in 1860, married an
American lady, Miss Mohr. The daughter of that union, Marie Terka
Virginie Clotilde, married in 1887 M. Maurice Bernhardt, son of the
famous actress, one of whose most successful parts is that of the
“Aiglon” (the Duc de Reichstadt).

The marriage at Moncalieri revived general interest in the period of the
Second Empire. The “great year” of the régime was that of 1867, when
the Emperor and Empress of the French entertained foreign Sovereigns,
Heirs-Apparent, Princes and Princesses, Generals, diplomatists, and the
fine fleur of European society.

In 1911 there are still surviving several distinguished personages who
were among the imperial guests in the summer and autumn of the most
brilliant days of the Napoleonic reign. These include the Emperor of
Austria-Hungary, whom the Empress Eugénie visited at Ischl in 1906; the
King of Denmark; the King of the Hellenes; the King of Montenegro; the
ex-Sultan of Turkey; Duke of Connaught; Comtesse de Flandre, Princesse
Clémentine’s aunt; Prince Murat; the Duchesse de Mouchy (_née_ Princesse
Anna Murat), the most cherished friend of the Empress; the Princesse de
Metternich, who in 1910 was relating her recollections of Second Empire
days to a select audience in her salon at Vienna; and the Comtesse
Edmond de Pourtalès, who hastened to Chislehurst in 1870 to assist the
Empress in a very practical way, and in 1911 is the valued friend of
Prince Napoleon and his consort.

To this list must be added the familiar names of Mrs. Ronalds and Mme.
De Arcos, both of whom have been for many years popular members of
English society, and both residing in London. The last-mentioned lady
and her sister, Mrs. Vaughan, are among the Empress’s most attached
surviving friends; and Miss Vaughan has accompanied Her Majesty on some
of her recent tours. M. Franceschini Pietri remains the most invaluable
and devoted of secretaries.

Illustrious _disparus_ include King Edward and his brother, the Duke of
Edinburgh; the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Comte de Flandre;
the King of Denmark, Queen Alexandra’s father; the King of Holland,
father of Queen Wilhelmina; Queen Sophia of Holland; the King of Sweden,
father of his present Majesty; the King of Portugal, Dom Manoel’s
grandfather; the Emperor William I.; the Emperors Alexander II. and
Alexander III.; Ismaïl Pasha; Abdul Aziz, Sultan of Turkey from 1861
until 1876; Prince Jérôme Napoleon, father of the Bonapartist Pretender;
Prince Pierre Bonaparte, father of Prince Roland and grandfather of
Princess George of Greece; Princesse Mathilde, cousin of Napoleon III.
and aunt of the Princes Victor and Louis; the Prince Imperial of France;
the Prince of Monaco, father of the present ruler of the Principality;
that Prince of the Netherlands popularly known as “Citron,” Bismarck,
the great Moltke, Princesse Clotilde, and Queen Maria Pia.


Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Eugénie, who is deeply interested in
the future of Prince and Princesse Napoleon, celebrated her eighty-fifth
birthday on May 5, 1911. The unexpected and tragic death of King Edward,
on May 6, 1910, came as a great shock to the Empress, who had known our
beloved Sovereign from his boyhood--in fact, since 1855, when, some six
months before he had attained his thirteenth year, he and his eldest
sister (the Princess Royal, afterwards Crown Princess of Prussia, and
later Empress Frederick) accompanied their august parents on their
memorable return visit to the Emperor and Empress of the French. As
Prince of Wales, King Edward had been present, earlier in that year, at
the installation, at Windsor, of the Emperor Napoleon III. as a Knight
of the Order of the Garter, and heard from his royal mother that, after
the ceremony, the Emperor had expressed his gratitude for the honour
conferred upon him, and, in a moment of rare expansiveness, had said to
the Queen, “Now, at last, I feel I am a gentleman!”--a frank admission
which much pleased, and probably amused, our beloved sovereign lady.

A week after the King’s death I learnt (although no mention of the fact
had been made public) that early on the morning of May 7 (His Majesty
passed away at a quarter before midnight on the 6th)--the Empress
Eugénie had telegraphed “heart-felt condolences” to Queen Alexandra,
Princess Henry of Battenberg, and Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. It
was also confided to me that, immediately after telegraphing, the
Empress, although momentarily “stupefied” by the calamity which plunged
our Empire into mourning, had written what were described to me as “very
beautiful and most pathetic letters” to the three royal ladies. I was
privileged to see other letters written by the Empress in May, 1910, and
I do not hesitate to say that they were truly remarkable productions,
revealing Her Imperial Majesty (as the Emperor once wrote of her) “in
her true colours.”

I have a word to add. The Empress commissioned a Paris art firm to
execute a very beautiful souvenir of King Edward. This she sent to Queen
Alexandra, and in the autumn it was placed near the King’s tomb in St.
George’s Chapel, Windsor. The Empress lunched (for the last time) with
King Edward and Queen Alexandra, at Buckingham Palace, on December 16,
1907, when the imperial lady was accompanied by Mrs. Vaughan (whose
sister, Mme. De Arcos, represented the Empress at the funeral of Queen
Victoria) and M. Pietri.

In the summer of 1910 the Empress cruised in the _Thistle_ for more than
two months, visiting, besides Italian ports, Corfu, Athens, the
Dalmatian coast, Smyrna, and Constantinople, which she first saw in
1869, when she went to Egypt to inaugurate the Suez Canal. The Sultan of
those distant days and the Sultan of these entertained her. In the
August of 1910 the Empress was in the Solent, and witnessed the launch
of the Orion at Portsmouth. Later in the year she lunched, for the first
time, with the King and Queen at Marlborough House, M. Pietri
accompanying her.

The Empress signalized her eighty-fifth birthday (May 5, 1911) by a very
pleasant cruise in the Mediterranean, as the guest of Sir Thomas Lipton,
Bart., on board his yacht _Erin_, and on June 24 she witnessed the
review of the fleet.

In my previous volume[187] I dwelt upon the solicitude of Queen Victoria
and other members of our Royal Family--notably King Edward and Queen
Alexandra--for the Empress Eugénie and the fatherless Prince Imperial. I
note the fact here because I am delighted to find that the details which
I gave of that more than cordial--that affectionate--relationship are
supplemented by M. Xavier Paoli in his volume of Souvenirs, entitled
“Leurs Majestés....”[188] Some two years ago, in the “Pall Mall
Gazette,” I announced M. Paoli’s intention to produce his reminiscences,
and I emphasized the opinion that his work would contain some
entertaining and piquant “indiscretions” concerning Queen Victoria and
the Empress Eugénie. That my anticipations have been fully realized will
be seen by what follows.

When Queen Victoria was at Nice a grave responsibility fell upon those
who, like M. Paoli, the “Protector of Sovereigns,”[189] were charged
with the onerous duty of guarding the royal residence without any great
display of force, almost without any indication of it. The small body of
infantry installed near the Queen’s abode had merely to present arms
when the august lady appeared, and when French official personages
called upon her.

One afternoon there was a “piquante adventure,” and all on account of
“the” Empress. M. Paoli’s amazed gaze fell upon the little infantry
force drawn up in the court, and he asked the officer in command “the
cause of this mobilization, which was not in the day’s programme.” The
officer replied that he had turned out the guard at the request of the
Queen’s Courier, M. Dosse, who explained that Her Majesty was expecting
the visit of “a crowned head.” Somewhat annoyed at his ignorance of what
was about to happen, M. Paoli further questioned M. Dosse, who remarked:
“Then you know nothing about it?” “Ma foi, non.” “Well, we are expecting
the Empress Eugénie.” Paoli jumped. “What!” he exclaimed, “you want
soldiers of the Republic to render honours to the former Empress of the
French!” “I admit,” answered M. Dosse, “that I did not look at it from
that point of view.” “But,” said M. Paoli, “I _do_ look at it from that
point of view;” and he requested the officer to march his men off

A few days later M. Paoli related the incident to the Empress, who said:
“Oh, how pleased I am that you have told me about it! Certain papers
would have made me responsible for what happened, and my very delicate
position would not have been improved.”

When the Empress attends a church in England other than St. Michael’s,
Farnborough, it is an event. On Sunday, August 14, 1910, Her Majesty,
accompanied by M. Pietri and Miss Vaughan, landed at Cowes and heard
Mass at the church of St. Thomas of Canterbury. The celebrant was the
Rev. John O’Hanlon, who told me he was born and brought up at Dumfries,
less than a dozen miles from Closeburn, the home of the Kirkpatricks,
from whom, through her mother, the imperial lady descends. The Empress
walked up the steep road leading from Cowes Pier to St. Thomas’s Church.
An observant spectator wrote of her: “Except for a slight lameness, the
Empress has the activity and vigour of a well-preserved woman of sixty.
The glorious chestnut hair, though now iron-grey, is still abundant, the
eyes are bright, the features finely chiselled. The Empress, who once
led fashions for all Europe, is now content to follow far in their wake,
for the skirt of her simple costume was much ampler than those lately
seen on the Royal Yacht Squadron’s lawns, while her coat had sleeves of
a bygone fashion.” In the afternoon the Empress visited Princess Henry
of Battenberg, at Osborne Cottage. On the following day (August 15, the
date of the great fête in the Empire period) Princess Henry and Princess
Christian took tea with the Empress on the _Thistle_, which remained in
the Solent for several days. The Queen of Spain and Princess Victoria of
Schleswig-Holstein were other visitors. The Empress was seen walking on
the parade at Cowes, but no one noticed the “slight lameness” referred
to, which, in fact, is non-existent.

On February 4, 1911, the daily papers announced the death of John Brown,
of Southwold, aged seventy-four, “a pensioner of the Empress Eugénie”;
and it was added that Brown “brought the Prince Imperial’s body home.”
This was incorrect. Colonel Pemberton had charge of the remains from the
Cape to Woolwich. The body was brought to England by the _Orontes_, and
transhipped at Portsmouth to the _Enchantress_, which conveyed it to
Woolwich. On board those vessels, besides Colonel Pemberton, were the
Abbé Rooney, the Prince’s valet (Uhlmann, who died some four years ago),
and two grooms (Lomas and Brown).

In January, 1911, the Empress’s friends read in the Paris papers the
somewhat disquieting announcement that MM. André de Lorde and A. Binet
had written a play called “Napoleon III.,” in which both the Emperor and
the Empress Eugénie will figure. French dramatists have hitherto, I
think, refrained from presenting the august lady on the stage, and it is
only within the last five years that the Emperor was impersonated in a
piece entitled



     From a private and unpublished photograph, courteously presented to
     the Author in 1911 by the Comte de Pimodan, the well-known author
     of a recently-issued valuable work on the Comte F. C. de
     Mercy-Argenteau, counsellor and confidant of Marie Antoinette.

_To face p. 392._]

“La Savelli,” by M. Max Maurey, produced by Mme. Réjane at her new
theatre, Rue Blanche, in December, 1906. In the part of the Emperor M.
Buguet acted with much distinction. His “makeup” was surprisingly good.

Very different was the treatment of the Emperor on the German stage, as
recently narrated by M. Jules Claretie: “I was disgusted at seeing, at a
Berlin theatre, in an adaptation of an old French féerie, Napoleon III.,
caricatured by a low comedian, dancing a cancan, his breast adorned with
the grand cordon of the Légion d’Honneur.”

In December, 1907, MM. Julien and Marcel Priollet selected “Napoleon
III.” as a title for their piece, produced at the Comédie de l’Époque,
“amidst the bravos of the public.”

The Prince Imperial was dragged on the stage as a consequence of the
“romantic” story first told to his detriment in 1879.[190] So
persistently was the rumour spread that the Prince Imperial had lost his
heart to an English girl that a German play was written on the subject
and produced at the theatre at Kreuznach within a month of the Prince’s
death in Zululand. In this amazing piece, which the German Government
allowed to be performed at the fashionable watering-place (where the
Empress Eugénie had “made a cure” some time after the war of 1870, and
by whose inhabitants she was consequently well known), the Prince
Imperial was portrayed in love with a gamekeeper’s daughter, “Miss
Mary.” A rival tried to shoot the Prince, who escaped by the aid of a
German servant, “Reinecke.” The story, as unfolded on the stage, showed
that, when the Prince had made up his mind to go to the Cape, the
Empress offered a bracelet to “Miss Mary,” who, regarding it as an
attempted bribe, refused it, declaring melodramatically that woman’s
love was “not to be bought with gold.” The dramatist made the most of
the Zulus’ “surprise” of the reconnoitring party, numbering nine all
told, led--or assumed to be led--by Lieutenant Carey, 98th Regiment; and
the attack, the abandonment of the Prince by his comrades, and his cruel
slaying by the savages were all enacted. The scene of the last act was
described as “the crypt of the Catholic Church, Chislehurst,” and the
Empress Eugénie was seen giving her dead son’s last letter to “Miss
Mary,” who revealed to the imperial lady that she had been really
married to the “little Prince” before he left for the Cape.

Not long after the tragedy of the First of June some Zulus were
exhibited in Paris, and for fourpence, in a booth, illumined by oil
lamps, M. Proudhon saw “how the Prince Imperial was killed”!

These fragments are pieced together for the sole purpose of completing
the record of the history of the Empress given in my first volume. Such
a record, imperfect as it may be, will not be found elsewhere. To be
able to infuse into the narrative a note of gaiety is most agreeable to
me, as I hope it will be to my readers at home and abroad.

One glorious summer afternoon[191] I roamed through rhododendron land.
Oh the beauty of it!--the joy of living in so fair a world, a Paradise
terrestrial! Through leafy mazes I wandered into gardens, where the air
was laden with the perfume of roses and honeysuckles. For miles, and
miles, and miles all was forest--dense, impenetrable forest. Unwillingly
I left this scene of enchantment and entered a park. My brief midsummer
day’s dream was over. I was invited to mount one of quite a “stable” of
prancing steeds, galloping in a circle--“patronized by the Royal Family
and the English aristocracy.” I was urged to “try my skill” in the
art--say, rather, the science--of casting wooden rings over clocks,
vases, and Lowther Arcade prettinesses in general. I was tempted by
roundabouts, swings, “hooplas,” cocoanut shies, Aunt Sally, and
“numerous side-shows.” “Zara,” the “celebrated Palmiste,” offered me
“peeps into the future--the past laid bare”--“Zara,” whose “remarkable
character readings” were guaranteed to “astonish you” (I felt sure of
it). “Afternoon, 2s. 6d.; evening, 1s.” I could not, unfortunately, stay
until the evening, or perhaps I might have made “Zara’s”
acquaintance--at the reduced fee.

And what else? A Pastoral Play--scenes from “As You Like it,” presented
by the “Marlboro’ Players”; a Venetian play, “The Honour of the
Joscelyns”; a Vaudeville entertainment, by “The Bluebirds,” an “amateur
association of ladies formed for the purpose of providing entertainments
for the poor in winter, and also assisting deserving organizations”; a
concert; Morris dances; a “display” by 100 boy scouts; daylight and
evening fireworks.

It was a two days’ Coronation Fête, given at Farnborough Hill, “by kind
permission of H.I.M. the Empress Eugénie,” in aid of the funds of the
county branch of the National Service League. Farnborough had never seen
the like, and rose to the occasion. I imagine that this garden festival
“at the Empress’s” will be, as it deserves to be, writ large in
Hampshire history.

Since the appearance of my first volume,[192] “the Empress’s
Church”--St. Michael’s, Farnborough--has received an addition. While the
Empress was on her unwontedly long cruise in the _Thistle_ during part
of May and the whole of June and July, 1910, a striking scene was being
enacted within the walls of St. Michael’s. For some months the quiet
which ordinarily reigns in the Mausoleum was disturbed. Sculptors and
masons--French and English--appeared, masses of stone were hauled into
the church, and the sound of mallets and chisels reverberated through
the great crypt, which extends beneath the choir and transepts. Entering
the crypt, I gazed at the transformation which had been effected. I saw
a third tomb! It is a graceful arch, rising from the back of and
surmounting the high altar. All who have visited the Catacombs at Rome
will recall the “table” tomb and the “arched” tomb, and will not need to
be told that the latter, from its shape, is the arcosolium. These tombs
differ only in the form of the surmounting recess. In the “table” tomb
the recess above, essential for the reception of the entombed body, is
square. In the arcosolium, a form of later date, the recess for the tomb
is semicircular, as at Farnborough. These modes of interment were
adopted by the early Christians. I leave it to the archæologists to tell
us whether or no the Empress Eugénie’s arcosolium is unique in this
country. I cannot recall anything resembling it. A space behind the
altar is occupied by a massive block of masonry, with a flat surface,
flush with the side walls from which the arch springs, and upon this the
Empress’s sarcophagus (assuming it should take that form, and so
harmonize with the granite tombs of the Emperor and the Prince Imperial)
will rest.

Here, then,

“In God’s own time, but not before,”

Eugénie de Montijo, Empress, will sleep her last long sleep with her
beloved Dead--Exiles all.

The historian who comes after us will find in this place of Napoleonic
sepulture ample materials for a moving chapter. He will have to
re-narrate, with the assistance of my modest records, the amazing rise
and the more astounding downfall of an Emperor and the deplorable end of
a Prince. But he will “use his best ink” in the endeavour to limn a
faithful portrait of her who held the world in thrall by her beauty, who
has endured her martyrdom with a resignation and fortitude so admirable
as to have compelled the affectionate solicitude of the nation whose
honoured guest she has been for forty-one sorrowful, yet not wholly
gloomy, years.

As I write these closing lines the air is full of processional melody,
the Town gay with colour. I think, not of the EMPRESS, when she, like
our own beloved Albert Edward and Alexandra, was the centre of
adulation, but of the WOMAN, in the not unkindly winter of her life,
kneeling before a tomb--her own. It is All Saints’ Day--the Jour des
Morts[193]--and in the crypt she mingles her prayers with the
Benedictines’ “pour tous les fidèles défunts.” So I had seen her
aforetime, and some words I heard then will not be kept back when the
sluices of memory are opened:

     ... And now, as in a strain of music, the theme comes back again,
     and we end with the first notes with which we began, so, if our
     thoughts have for a while run in another channel, they fall back
     into the great deep of sweet sorrow, and, I will say, of
     thanksgiving, for that noble, princely youth who has passed before
     our eyes with the brightness of a ray of light, and from this world
     has disappeared for ever.... What a morning in life it was when
     that beautiful youth entered into this world! What a mother’s joy!
     If ever son was worthy of a mother’s love, it was he. And if ever
     mother loved a son as an only son can be loved, it was she. What a
     desolation now! The solitary home. All alone. Yet not alone; for
     they who believe are never lonely. They have come unto “Mount Sion,
     and to the City of the Living God; to the company of many thousands
     of angels; to the Church of the first-born, who are written in the
     heavens; to God, the Judge of all; to the spirits of the just made
     perfect”; to the great cloud of witnesses ever about them. And as
     the Mother, who, when her Divine Son was in the grave, looked on
     with certain confidence to the glory of the Resurrection, to the
     future recognition in personal identity, and in the restored bonds
     of Mother and of Son in all the perfection of maternal and filial
     love glorified in eternity, so is it now. And this will be her
     consolation.... And what is the longest life of waiting but a
     little while at last?[194]

    The light beats down, the gates of pearl are wide:
    And she is passing to the floor of peace.
    And Mary of the seven times wounded heart
    Has kissed her lips ... the Light of Lights
    Looks always on the motive, not the deed,
    The Shadow of Shadows on the deed alone.







    _Exile or Cæsar? Death hath solved thy doubt,_
    _And made thee certain of thy changeless fate;_
    _And thou no more hast wearily to wait,_
    _Straining to catch the people’s tarrying shout_
    _That from unrestful rest would drag thee out,_
    _And push thee to those pinnacles of State_
    _Round which throng courtly loves, uncourted hate,_
    _Servility’s applause, and envy’s flout._
    _Twice happy boy! though cut off in thy flower,_
    _The timeliest doom of all thy race is thine:_
    _Saved from the sad alternative, to pine_
    _For heights unreached, or icily to tower,_
    _Like Alpine crests that only specious shine,_
    _And glitter on the lonely peak of Power._

                   ALFRED AUSTIN.

    _June, 1879._



Abdul-Aziz, 387

Aguado, Mme., 63, 153

Albany, Duchess of, 83

Albe, Duc d’, 4, 47
  Duchesse d’, 57, 62, 107, 153
  Mlles. d’, 293

Albuféra, Maréchale d’, 47
  Duchesse d’, 353

Alcanises, Marquis d’, 60

Aldama, Mme. de, 153

Alexander II., Emperor, 297

Alexandra, Queen, 388, 389

Allsop, Mr. (Orsini), 83

Alten, Count von, 206

Alvensleben, General von, 208

Ambès, Baron d’, 24, 270

André, M., 269, 270

Angely, Marshal Regnault de Saint-Jean d’, 78

Aoste, Dowager Duchesse d’, 349, 351, 354, 358
  (late), Duc d’, 380
  Duc d’, 382
  Duchesse d’, 382

Arcos, Mme. de, 73, 153, 386, 389

Argyll, Duchess of, 388

Arnaud, Mme. St., 37

Auber, M., 79

Augusta, Queen of Prussia, 291

Aumale, Duc d’, 201

Austin, Alfred (Poet-Laureate), 400

Austria, Empress of, 148
  Emperor of, 168, 356, 371

Autemarre, General d’, 192, 193

Auvergne, Prince de La Tour d’, 194

Azeglio, Marquis d’, 230


Bacciochi, Comte, 100, 269

Baden, Grand Duchess of, 31

Bapst, M. Germain, 168, 184, 186, 190

Baroche, M., 271

Barron, Mrs., 155

Barrot, M., 271

Bartholini, Mme., 133, 134

Bassano, Duc de, 300
  Mlle. de, 352

Bassano, Duchesse de, 40

Battenberg, Princess Henry of, 377, 388, 392
  Prince Henry of, 377

Bazaine, Marshal, 181, 183, 192, 193, 196, 199, 201,
    202, 203, 210, 294, 304, 305

Beaumont, Comtesse de, 149

Beckwith, Miss, 155

Bedmar, Marquis de, 45

Belgiojoso, Princesse, 154
  Marquise de, 60

Benedetti, Comte, 282, 291

Beneyton, Monsieur H., 352

Bernhardt, Mme. Sarah, 385

Berryer, M., 26

Bertrand, M., 306

Beust, Count, 166, 298
  M. and Mme. Maurice, 385

Bigelow, Mr. John, 108

Billault, M., 271

Bischoffsheim, Mme. Ferdinand, 155

Bismarck, Count von, 69, 75, 125, 208, 218,
    220, 221, 275, 278, 291, 292, 332, 333

Blanchet, M., 379

Blessington, Lady, 19, 22, 28

Bojano, Duchesse de, 154

Bonaparte, Louis, King of Holland, 8, 9, 28, 29
  Prince Pierre, 21, 336
  Prince Roland, 385
  Princesse Jeanne, 385
  Princesse Marie (Princess George of Greece), 385
  Princesse Lætitia, 385
  Prince Lucien, 385
  Princess Lucien, 385

Boulanger, General, 370

Bourbaki, General, 291

Bourgoing, Baron de, 75, 133

Brown, Mr. John, 392

Bruat, Admiral, 328
  Mlles., 328

Brunswick, Duke of, 80

Buguet, M., 393

Burdett-Coutts, Miss, 31

Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John, 231, 233, 234, 235
  Lady, 231, 233


Cabanel, M., 135

Cabrol, Dom, Lord Abbot of St. Michael’s, Farnborough, 377

Calderon, M., 153

Calmette, M. Gaston, 278

Canisy, Mme. de, 149, 155

Canrobert, Marshal, 74, 78, 182, 192, 193, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200
  Mme., 169

Carette, Mme., 57

Carey, Lieutenant, 306

Carrère, M. Jean, 357

Carroll, Mrs., 155

Cassagnac, MM. de, 345
  Paul de, 217, 303

Castelbajac, Comte de, 153

Castellane, Marquis de, 274

Castelnau, General, 213

Castiglione, Comtesse de, 137, 141, 154

Cavour, Count, 229, 230

Chaband-Latour, General, 178

Chambord, Comte de, 370

Chambrier, M. James de, 88

Changarnier, General, 271

Chapelle, Comte de La, 301, 320
  Vicomte de La, 301, 308

Chaplin, Mr., 72

Charette, General Baron de, 155

Chasseloup-Laubat, Marquise de, 155, 328

Chazal, General, 190, 222

Chigi, Mgr., 143

Chimay, Prince de, 363

Christian, Princess, 392

Circourt, Comtesse de, 229

Clarendon, Lord, 97, 111

Claretie, M. Jules, 393

Clary, Comte, 316, 317

Conegliano, Duc de, 236

Conneau, Dr., 23, 24, 103, 105, 228, 301
  Mme., 72
  M., jun., 133

Constantine, Grand Duke, 120

Contades, Marquise de, 42

Conti, M., 276

Cornu, Mme., 27, 275

Corvisart, Baron, 211

Courson, General de, 213

Courtval, Mme. de, 163, 164

Coventry, Lord, 72

Cowley, Lord, 100
  Lady, 101


Daru, Comte, 284

David, M. Jérôme, 184, 185, 190, 286

Davilliers, Comte, 211

Delafosse, M. Jules, 343, 344

Delessert, Mme., 2
  M. Edouard, 100

Demidoff, Prince Anatole, 32, 41, 384

Denmark, King of, 386

Diego, M., 153

Dino, Duchesse de, 45, 47

Dion, Marquis de, 356

Dosse, M., 390, 391

Douay, General, 169

Ducrot, General, 211

Dumas, Alexandre, 163

Dumont, General, 192

Dumoulin, M. Maurice, 227

Duperré, Charles, 180, 185, 192, 193, 194, 195

Durangel, M., 185

Duruy, M., 383

Duvernois, M. Clément, 286


Edinburgh, Duke of, 387

Edward VII., King, 387, 388, 389

Edwards, H. Sutherland, 206

Ellrichshausen, Colonel von, 220

Espinasse, M., 271

Eugénie, the Empress:
  sees her future Consort for the first time, 1;
  her Paris education, her friends, departure from Paris for Spain, 2;
  the school at Clifton, in her teens, at the bull-fights, the “élégants,” 3;
  “Ugenia” and the Spanish Dukes, the Comtesse de Montijo’s
    salon and her “pollos,” 4;
  a variegated life, travels, Eugénie at Buckingham Palace, 5;
  at the Palmerstons (London), in the Pyrenees, 6;
  Eugénie at Compiègne, the courting, the Fortoul incident, 33;
  the Emperor’s offer of marriage, 34;
  the Court divided on the question, 35;
  the gipsy fortune-teller, 36;
  the lovelorn Dukes, snubbing the fiancée, the hasty Empress, 37;
  “a delicate question,” 38;
  the Emperor’s real opinion of Eugénie, “only my husband shall kiss me,” 39;
  discomfited Ministers, 40;
  M. Thiers’ sarcasm, Princesse Mathilde’s appeal to the Emperor, 41;
  Eugénie at Princesse Mathilde’s ball, she is “the actual
    rising sun,” at the Opera, 42;
  she makes splendid “copy” for the papers, some unflattering
    people, 43;
  the Comtesse de Montijo’s parsimony, enthusiasm of the Madrid
    Press, 44;
  the Duchesse de Dino’s amusing letters, jokes made about the
    Empress, 45, 46, 47;
  the Heralds’ College, Paris, explains the genealogy of the
    Montijo-Guzmans, 48;
  portrait-in-words of the Empress, 49-69;
  at Biarritz, 70, 71;
  the Empress and the Grand Prix, 72;
  quality of the Tuileries’ wine criticized, “not so good as
    Pinard’s,” a military review, 73;
  Eugénie “in all the radiance of her beauty,” 74;
  the “Bal des Souverains,” 75;
  other fêtes to the Foreign Sovereigns and Princes, the Empress’s
    success as hostess, 76;
  the Empress and Isabelle, the flower-girl, 79;
  some distinguished people, 80;
  the Orsini “attempt,” the Empress’s courage, 83-87;
  as the result of “scenes,” the Empress goes to Scotland, 89;
  the Empress Eugénie and the Empress of Mexico, a scene at St.
    Cloud, the weeping Eugénie, 93;
  the Empress at Windsor Castle, the “Garter” conferred upon the
    Emperor in the Empress’s presence, 94, 95;
  the Empress with Queen Victoria at Osborne, 97;
  her happy days in the Isle of Wight, 98;
  the Empress’s “great” and “little” balls, 99;
  the Empress seldom dances, 100;
  she tells a story at one of the “Mondays,” 101, 102;
  the Duchess of Sutherland and the Empress, 105, 106;
  Lord Ronald Sutherland-Gower describes the Empress at the Tuileries
    and at Windsor, 106, 107;
  visit of the Empress to Stafford House, 107;
  an American diplomatist describes the Empress “without a country,” 108;
  the Empress’s letter on cricket, 111, 112;
  the Empress at Fontainebleau, the Imperial Hunt, 115;
  Eugénie’s apartments at Fontainebleau formerly occupied by
    Marie Antoinette, the boudoir, “she would have liked to milk
    a cow and to make butter,” the procession to the imperial
    bedrooms, 117;
  the Empress improvises open-air dinners, her “turlututus,”
    she is a “romantic,” 119;
  Pierrefonds, the château which gave the Empress a travelling-name,
    she admires the eighteenth century, at Fontainebleau she is
    happiest, 120;
  the splendours of Fontainebleau, the ladies’ stories, 121;
  “talk to the Empress about her crinolines” (De Morny), 122;
  the Empress speaks loudly, her drives, luncheons, and excursions, 123;
  she enjoys herself when wet through, and pays a fine for being
    late at dinner, 124;
  a dramatic incident at Fontainebleau, the Empress in tears at a
    Ministerial Council, 126;
  the first of “the Compiègnes,” attended by Eugénie and her mother,
    both ardent sportswomen, 129;
  family gathering on the Empress’s fête-day, life at Compiègne, the
    Empress acts in a piece by Feuillet, 132;
  Her Majesty in high spirits, rejoicing at the coming struggle in
    Mexico, 135, 136;
  the Empress blamed for countenancing the “Exotics,” 137;
  she is thrown among cosmopolitan society, 138;
  the Empress, Princesse de Metternich, and the Comtesse de Castiglione,
    enthusiasm of the Austrian Ambassador for the Empress, 141;
  influence of the Princesse over Eugénie, 143;
  what she said about Her Majesty, 148;
  the beautiful Duchesse d’Albe, the Empress’s sister, 153;
  the Empress welcomes the Spanish ladies, 154;
  a great favourite of the Empress, 160;
  the Comtesse E. de Pourtalès and the Empress, 161;
  the Empress’s war telegrams to the Emperor, her courage and hopefulness,
    indefatigable exertions, and ability as Regent, 165-201;
  new versions of the Empress’s flight from the Tuileries and escape
    from Paris, 223-228;
  story of Chevalier Nigra and the Empress, 230-231;
  Sir John Burgoyne’s narrative of the Empress and the voyage from
   Deauville to Ryde, 231-234;
  what the Empress told Lord Ronald Sutherland-Gower at Chislehurst,
    the bust of Marie Antoinette swept off the table, 235, 236;
  the exact hour of the Empress’s departure from the Tuileries,
    September 4, 1870, 237;
  “the Empress’s crown of thorns,” her heroic conduct after Sedan, 237, 238;
  plot to defraud the Empress described by M. Pietri, 238, 239;
  list of objects left at the Tuileries in 1870 by the Empress, the
    Emperor, and the Prince Imperial, 240-244;
  the Empress’s complaints to Queen Victoria of English newspaper
    attacks upon the Emperor, Bismarck a favourite of the Empress, 275;
  M. Émile Ollivier and the Empress, 277;
  the “Case” for the Empress, published in the volume, “The Empress
    Eugénie: 1870-1910,” her own statement, 278;
  what the Empress said upon reading that the Hohenzollern candidature
    was withdrawn, 291;
  “Do your duty, Louis!” 293;
  M. Émile Ollivier’s courageous defence of the Empress, and
    confirmation of her statements in the “Case,” 295;
  the Author’s remarks on the “Case,” 296;
  the critics, Comte de La Chapelle, and the Empress, 301;
  Marshal Bazaine and the Empress, 304;
  the Vicomte de La Chapelle confirms statements published in
    “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910,” 305;
  the Empress and the Comte de La Chapelle, 316, 317;
  the Empress and Colonel Stoffel, 323;
  the Empress’s presents to Prince and Princess Napoleon on their
    marriage, 353, 354;
  a portrait of the Empress chez Prince Napoleon, 365;
  Prince Napoleon and Princesse Clémentine visit the Empress
    at Farnborough Hill, 373;
  King Leopold, Princesse Clémentine, and Princesse Stéphanie
    visit the Empress at Cap Martin, _ibid._;
  the Empress at her Hampshire home, 374, 375;
  the Empress at eighty-five, her letters of condolence to Queen
    Alexandra, Princess Henry of Battenberg, and Princess Louise,
    Duchess of Argyll, on the death of King Edward, and her Imperial
    Majesty’s beautiful souvenir of the King, 388, 389;
  the Empress’s last visit to King Edward and Queen Alexandra at
    Buckingham Palace, her long cruise in 1910, her visit to the
    Sultan, she witnesses the launch of the _Orion_ and lunches
    with King George and Queen Mary at Marlborough House, a cruise
    in the _Erin_ as the guest of Sir Thomas Lipton, she is present
    at the King’s Coronation Review of the Fleet, 389;
  M. Paoli narrates an adventure at Nice concerning the Empress, 390, 391;
  the Empress hears Mass at the Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury,
    Cowes, 391;
  she visits and is visited by English Princesses, and walks on the
    Parade at Cowes, 392;
  death of one of her pensioners, _ibid._;
  a new French play, “Napoleon III.,” with the Empress and the
    Emperor as characters, other Napoleonic plays, 392-394;
  a garden festival in the park and grounds of the imperial
    residence, Farnborough Hill, 395;
  the Empress’s tomb at St. Michael’s Abbey Church, 396;
  Cardinal Manning’s eulogy of the Empress and the Prince Imperial, 398, 399;
  the words of the Empress, 399

Evans, Mr. T. W., 223, 226, 227, 231, 232


Falize, MM., 353

Farnborough Hill, idyll of, 373

Farquhar, Mr., 25

Fave, General, 75

Favre, Jules, 26, 288

Flandre, Comtesse de, 351, 352, 354, 371
  Comte de, 387

Fleury, Comte, 21, 60, 68, 78, 271, 276
  Comtesse, 78

Flowers, Miss, 3

Forest, Baron de, 158

Fortoul, M. and Mme., 33, 37, 128
  M., 271

Fould, M. Achille, 35, 47, 48, 61, 149, 271

Frederick Charles, Prince, 219

Frias, Duchesse de, 153

Frossard, General, 171, 172, 173, 180, 181, 182, 293, 334


Galliera, Duchesse de, 142

Galliffet, Marquise de, 73, 106, 133, 155, 159, 160, 161
  Marquis de, 79, 160, 161
  Mlle. Diane de, 159

Gamble, Mr., 217

Gautier, Théophile, 79, 363

Geneva, Bishop of, 360

Gerlach, General von, 273

German Emperor and Empress, 372, 373

Glenesk, Lord (Mr. A. Borthwick), 110, 300

Goddard, Monsignor, 393

Goltz, Baron, 71
  Major-General Count von, 75

Gordon, Mrs. (_née_ Bruault), 20

Gounod, M., 135

Goze, General, 212

Grammont-Caderousse, Duc de, 79, 151, 152, 160

Gramont, Duc de, 282, 291, 292, 293, 295, 296, 297, 298

Greece, King of, 386
  H.R.H. Prince George of, 385

Gricourt, Marquis de, 21, 281, 282

Guadalcazar, Marquis de, 153

Guadalmina, Marquise de, 153

“Gyp,” 37


Halévy, M., 154

Hamilton, Duchess of, 73

Harry, M. Gérard, 349, 368

Hastings, Marquis of, 72, 73

Hatzfeldt, Count, 155

Haussmann, Baron, 75, 177, 178, 194

Hériot and Chauchart, MM., 150

Hérisson, Comte d’, 231, 259

Hertford, Marquis of, 152

Hilliers, Marshal Baraguay d’, 176, 186, 189, 190, 191

Hirsch, Baron, 158, 159

Hohenzollern, Princess Adelaide of, 31
  Prince of, 285
  Prince Leopold of, 31

Holland, King of, 80, 81, 82, 387
  Prince of, 387

Hope, Mr., 156

Hortense, Queen, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 17, 19, 21, 28, 32

Houssaye, Arsène, 79

Hugo, Victor, 370


Isabelle, 79, 153

Ismaïl Pasha, 387

Italy, King of, 168, 348, 349, 353, 355
  Queens of, 354


Jablonowski, M. Maurice, 385

James, Sir Henry (Lord James of Hereford), 221

Jersey, Lord and Lady, 31

Joséphine, Empress, 19

Juarez, President, 136


Kératry, M. de, 286


Laborde, Comtesse de, 2, 38

Lafitte, M. Charles, 79

Lagrange, Comte de, 79

Lambert, Baron, 133, 162

Lano, Pierre de, 137, 140, 141, 143, 259

Lansdowne, Marquis and Marchioness of, 377

Lebœuf, Marshal, 75, 107, 170, 177, 181,
    187, 188, 189, 192, 193, 195, 199, 201, 204

Lebreton-Bourbaki, Mme., 223, 224, 225, 226, 227

Lebrun, General, 183, 189, 199, 201, 212, 213, 214

Legge, Edward, 206, 222

Legouvé, M., 132

Lejeune, Mme., 328

Leopold II., 345, 370, 371

Lhuys, Drouyn, de, 35, 36, 37, 111, 271
  Mme., 128

Lieven, Princesse de, 153

Ligne, Princesse E. de, 353

Lipton, Sir Thomas, 389

Lomas, Mr., 392

Lonyay, Comtesse (Princesse Stéphanie), 373, 377

Lorde, M. André de, 392

Louise (of Belgium), Princesse, 378

Louis XVIII., King, 234, 235

Lyons, Lord, 71, 73


Mackau, Baron de, 279, 280, 295

MacMahon, Marshal, 169, 170, 174, 176, 182, 195, 210, 211, 214, 215

Magnan, Marshal, 115, 271

Magne, M., 197, 271

Maillard, M. J., 236, 237

Malbert, M., 362

Malmesbury, Lord, 6, 31

Manchester, Duke and Duchess of, 206

Manning, Cardinal, 398, 399

Manoel, King of Portugal, 362, 380

Manzoni, Signor, 230

Marcello, Comtesse, 154

Maria Pia (the late), Queen, 371, 387

Marie Henriette Anne (the late), Queen of the Belgians, 345

Marrast, M., 268

Marx, Adrien, 73, 76, 77

Masera, Monsignor, 352

Massa, Marquis de, 79, 119, 132, 145, 162

Masson, M. Frédéric, 236, 369

Mathilde, Princesse, 32, 36, 41, 42, 62, 72, 128, 174, 218, 361, 383, 384

Mattachich, Count, 378

Mauget, M. Irénée, 43, 44, 61

Maupas, M., 270, 271

Maurey, M. Max, 393

Meilhac, M., 154

Meissonier, 135

Mentschikoff, Prince, 152

Mercy-Argenteau, Comtesse de, 245-258

Mérimée, Prosper, 1, 3, 61, 66, 230

Mermillod, Cardinal, 360

Metternich, Princesse de, 73, 106, 133, 134,
    137, 141, 142, 143, 144, 149, 155, 173, 227, 297, 386

Metternich, Prince de, 79, 133, 141, 142,
    173, 175, 197, 227, 228, 229, 297, 298

Mexico, Empress Charlotte of, 90-94, 371

Mitchell, M. Robert, 218

Mocquard, M., 103

Moltke, General von, 208, 387

Montmorency, Duc and Duchesse, 173

Monts, General Count von, 281, 282

Monaco, the late Prince of, 387

Moncalieri, the Mayor of, 350

Montijo, Comtesse de, 1, 4, 32, 42, 43, 48, 61, 129

Morny, Duc de, 35, 36, 79, 122, 153, 271, 276
  Duchesse de, 72

Mouchy, Duc de, 80
  Duchesse de, 376

Moulton, Mrs., 73, 155

Murat, Prince, 386

Murat, Princes Achille and Lucien, 21
  Prince Joachim, 31

Musard, Mme., 81

Musset, Paul de, 135


Napoleon III., the Emperor:
  arrives in Paris under arrest, and is seen for the first
    time by Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo, 1;
  boyhood and youth, 7;
  his father and mother, 9;
  travels in Italy, the prophecy of a negress, Louis Napoleon
    imbued with his mother’s superstitious ideas, “What would
    you do to obtain a livelihood?” 10, 11;
  at the age of seven, he implores Napoleon I. “not to leave
    for the war,” a curious conversation with the Emperor, 12, 13;
  the boy’s character, “a type of German dreaminess,” 14;
  the “doux entêté,” a prediction of the “Grand Albert,” the
    boy’s one quality, 15;
  George Sand’s remark, the Prince’s education vitiated, his
    docility, effects of changes of scene, drawbacks to study,
    some of his writings, 16, 17;
  Louis Napoleon’s life in London, 18;
  his drawing-rooms full of souvenirs and relics, his rides and
    drives, he makes numerous friends, Lady Blessington, he publishe
   s his “Idées Napoléoniennes,” 19;
  De Persigny and the Prince, Louis Napoleon’s failure at Strasburg,
    Mrs. Gordon, 20;
  Fleury, De Persigny, and the Marquis de Gricourt, the Prince deported
    to America, he meets the Murats and Prince Pierre Bonaparte, returns
    to London, goes to Arenenberg, and is present at his mother’s death,
    his proclamations posted at Boulogne, 21;
  how Boulogne took the announcements, 22;
  the expedition to France, a fiasco, the conspirators fly, the Prince
    and others jump into the sea, some are drowned, arrest of the Prince
    and most of his adherents, 24;
  letter from Thélin, the Prince’s valet, dated from a Paris prison, 25, 26;
  the Prince and others are tried at the Luxembourg, 26;
  the sentences--the Prince to be perpetually imprisoned in a fortress,
    his six years at Ham, he is assisted by Mme. Cornu, his foster-sister, 27;
  escape of the Prince from Ham, his arrival in London, death of his
    father, the Prince becomes comparatively rich, and buys a house for
    Miss Howard, 28;
  Louis Napoleon’s letter to his father on the subject of marriage, 29, 30;
  he denies that he is a pretender to the hand of Queen Doña Maria, 30;
  the Prince’s matrimonial advances, 31;
  Mlle. Eugénie de Montijo and her mother, 32;
  the Montijos at Compiègne, card-playing, Eugénie has “a very good
    hand,” the courtship, Eugénie is insulted, 33, 34;
  the sympathetic Emperor, he offers marriage, and announces his
    intention in a speech from the throne, 34;
  objections to the marriage, 35;
  M. Drouyn de Lhuys and Mlle. de Montijo, De Morny’s saying, 36;
  ladies oppose the marriage, Eugénie is persecuted at Compiègne, 37;
  analysis of her temperament, 38;
  Mlle. de Montijo will not allow anyone to kiss her but her husband, 39;
  criticism of the Emperor’s fiancée, Princesse Mathilde begs the Emperor
    to abandon his intention, 41;
  Lamartine supports the Emperor, “everybody courts Mlle. de Montijo,” 42;
  the Comtesse de Montijo and the generous Emperor, 44;
  “what a responsibility to have a young wife, beautiful, and southern!” a
    story of the Emperor and Eugénie, 46;
  after the marriage, “the Empress submits everything to the Emperor,” 47;
  the Empress and her diamonds, 48;
  the Emperor
deplores his Consort’s waywardness, “scenes,” some “distraction for the poor
    Emperor,” who is to be “shown some pretty women,” the Emperor cautions
    the Empress against “people who are no better than spies,” 54;
  a letter from the wife to the husband, 55;
  the Emperor and Empress much discussed in Paris and London, sidelights
    upon their lives, 57;
  the Emperor induces the Empress to travel in Scotland, 58;
  the Emperor provides an unknown poet with a wife, 58-60;
  the Emperor insists upon strict etiquette, 60;
  the Emperor and his wife’s letters, “scenes” between the Imperial
    couple, 61;
  the Emperor orders the Empress’s mother to leave Paris, the Empress’s
    with the Emperor in the garden, the Emperor refuses to allow the
    Comtesse de
    Montijo to return to Paris, 62;
  the Emperor “is suspicious and severe to excess,” he gives Mme.
    Aguado her congé,
    the Empress “chaffs” her Consort, 63;
  a charming letter from the Empress to Napoleon III., her
    Majesty’s letters to the
    Emperor before their marriage, 66;
  the Empress “knows how to deliver the Emperor from General
    Fleury and M. Émile
    Ollivier,” 68;
  the Emperor’s mispronunciation of some French words,
    Bismarck’s sarcasm, Napoleon
    “only looked a real Emperor when he was mounted,” 69;
  the Emperor and Biarritz, 70;
  the wife of His Majesty’s doctor, 72;
  the Emperor honours Alexander II., the Tsarevitch, the
    King of Prussia, and
    the Crown Prince, 74, 75;
  the Emperor shows his Royal guests his stables and his
    twelve saddle-horses, 76, 77;
  the story of “Mr. Allsop” (Orsini) and the attempted assassination of
    Napoleon III. and his wife, 83-87;
  the Emperor as the “Sire de Framboisy,” 87, 88;
  the Emperor’s “political successes and military glories,” 88;
  reconciliation of the French Sovereigns, 89;
  the Empress of Mexico at St. Cloud, a dramatic episode, Napoleon
    “bewildered,” “tears were in all eyes, even the Emperor’s,” the
    official account of the Empress Charlotte’s visit, 92-94;
  Queen Victoria invests Napoleon with the Order of the Garter,
    “Enfin, je suis gentilhomme,” 95-97;
  the Emperor and Empress visit Queen Victoria and the Prince
    Consort at Cowes, the Emperor’s mot, 97, 98;
  at a ball at the Tuileries, before the marriage, the Emperor
    dances with Lady Cowley and with Mlle. de Montijo, 101;
  the Emperor’s toilet, an amusing scene, 102-105;
  Lord Ronald Sutherland-Gower describes the Emperor at a Tuileries
    ball, 106, 107;
  an American Minister’s opinion of Napoleon III., 108;
  Lord Glenesk’s comical story of the Emperor who “did not want
    to be snubbed again,” 110, 111;
  the Emperor’s liking for Fontainebleau, his curious Louis XV.
    hunting-dress, English friends welcomed, 113, 114;
  torchlight “curées” and gay “shoots,” 116;
  Napoleon III. sleeps in the room of Napoleon I., the forest the great
    attraction at Fontainebleau, 118;
  the Emperor and Empress are “romantics,” 119;
  when their Majesties arrive--“how different to the Tuileries!” 121;
  the Théâtre Impérial, Fontainebleau, Albéric Second’s amusing “saynète”
    and De Morny’s witty impromptu, 121, 122;
  the Emperor’s unconventional garb, 122;
  music at dinner, “the Emperor had no ear,” his favourite tunes, 123;
  at Fontainebleau the Emperor smokes and talks with Bismarck, they have a
    “political walk” through the grounds, 125;
  an incident at a Council at Fontainebleau, “the Empress burst into
    tears, and left the Council Chamber,” 126;
  the Emperor at Compiègne, the Imperial “buttons,” a “final act of
    diplomacy,” 129;
  Christmas theatricals, a big “meet” on Christmas Day, guests at the
    “séries,” a miscellaneous company, 130;
  good dinners and excellent music, 131;
  various games, amateur play-acting, the Emperor “plays” a piano-organ,
    the Marquis de Massa’s “skit” on the Emperor’s “Commentaires
    de César,” 132;
  enemies and intrigues, the Emperor “using himself up,” 143;
  the Emperor promises the Princesse de Metternich that “Tannhäuser”
    shall be produced, 145, 146;
  the Emperor gives Liszt the Cross of the Légion d’Honneur, 147;
  the Emperor and the Marquise de Galliffet, 160;
  the Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès, a warm friend of the Emperor and
    Empress, warns them of Prussia’s intentions, 161;
  the Emperor’s war telegrams to the Empress, 166-196;
  Napoleon III. at Metz “seemed to be dreaming,” “he had become an
    embarrassment,” 199;
  the Emperor, Canrobert, Lebœuf, and Bazaine together at the Préfecture,
    Metz, Napoleon hands over the command to Bazaine, 201;
  the Emperor’s Aide-de-Camp, General Pajol, describes the battle of
   Sedan and the splendid courage of His Majesty, 210-216;
  was the Emperor rouged at Sedan?, 216-218;
  interviews of Napoleon with Bismarck, the King of Prussia, and the
    Crown Prince, 218-221;
  the Emperor en route to Wilhelmshöhe, he writes a full explanation
    of the causes which led to his defeat, 221-222;
  a list of the property left at the Tuileries in 1870 by the Emperor,
    the Empress, and their son, 240-244;
  the Emperor’s letters to the Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau, 248-258;
  the Emperor’s other correspondence, 259-267;
  Napoleon as Citizen, President, and Emperor, his extraordinary
    letter concerning Miss Howard, 269, 270;
  the history of the coup d’état, 270-272;
  his four years’ Presidency of the Republic, 273;
  tributes of M. Émile Ollivier and Baron de Mackau to Napoleon III., 276-281;
  the Emperor, at Wilhelmshöhe, writes a detailed statement of his
    policy as regards Germany, 281-291;
  what the King of Prussia was asked to write to Napoleon III., 291-292;
  the people who forced the Emperor to declare war, 292;
  last words of Napoleon to M. Ollivier, 293;
  Napoleon III. is left without allies and goes to war single-handed,
    298, 299;
  the Emperor and his collaborator, the Comte de La Chapelle, 301-304;
  how the Emperor and “the Cause” were financed, the Comte de La
    Chapelle’s letters to the Emperor, 308-318;
  letter of Napoleon III. to M. Rouher, 319, 320;
  in letters to Colonel Stoffel M. Franceschini Pietri speaks for
    the Emperor, 321-337

Napoleon, General Prince Louis, 379
  Prince (the late), 41, 72, 128, 294, 297, 298, 326, 345, 358,
    383, 384
  Princesse (the late Clotilde), 100, 345, 347, 350, 352, 354,
    358, 359-361, 381, 382, 384
  Prince (the Pretender), 339-384
  Princesse (Clémentine), 345, 348, 349, 350, 352, 353, 354,
    355, 369-378
  Emperor (I.), 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 19, 347

Naeyer, Comtesse de Smet de, 353

Ney, Edgar, 35, 115

Niel, Marshal, 181, 200, 279, 280, 323, 333

Nieuwerkerque, Comte de, 41, 79

Nigra, Chevalier, 124, 227, 228, 229, 230, 298

Noir, Victor, 336


Offenbach, Jacques, 79, 151

O’Hanlon, Rev. John, 391

Ollivier, M. Émile, 68, 168, 178,
    180, 276, 277, 281, 282, 283, 284,
    287, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 301, 303, 324, 369

Orléans, Duc d’, 344
  Princesse Hélène (Duchesse d’Aoste), 382

Ossuna, Duc d’, 4, 36, 45

_Owl, The_, and some of its writers, 110


Padoue, Mlle. de, 29

Padwick, Mr., 72

Pajol, General, 209, 211, 213, 215, 216

Palikao, General, 89, 186, 187, 188, 190, 192, 194, 201, 296
  Mlles., 328

Pallez, M. Lucien, 372

Palmerston, Viscount and Viscountess, 6
  Viscount, 97

Panizzi, Dr., 1

Paoli, M. Xavier, 389, 390, 391

Parieu, M. de, 271

Pasquier, M., 26
  Duc d’Audiffet, 344

Patti, Adelina, 72

Paule, Don François de, 31

Payne, Mrs., 155

Pearl, Cora, 152

Pellé, General, 214

Pemberton, Colonel, 392

Pepa, 197

Perrin, M., 133

Persigny, Duc de, 20, 21, 24, 27, 35, 63, 276, 281
  Duchesse de, 128, 151

Pestel, Captain von, 208

Philippe, King Louis, 18, 348

Pietri, M. Franceschini, 170, 183, 228,
    238, 239, 276, 300, 321, 325-338,
    376, 386, 389, 391

Pilié, Mrs., 155

Pinard, M., 73

Pius IX., Pope, 371

Plon, M., 331

Podbielski, Count von, 205, 207, 208

Poet Laureate (sonnet, “The Prince Imperial”), 400

Polk, Miss, 155

Poïlly, Mme. de, 133

Poniatowski, Prince, 174, 175

Pope, the, 355

Portugal, Queen (Doña Maria) of, 30
  King of, and Infant Don Fernando, 135

Post, Mrs. and the Misses, 155

Pourtalès, Comtesse Edmond de, 73, 133, 134, 149, 155, 161, 162, 386

Prim, Marshal, 31

Prince Imperial, 71, 74, 78, 293, 294, 298,
    304, 306, 307, 315-317, 379, 383, 393,
    394, 398, 400

Priollet, MM. Julien and Marcel, 393

Proudhon, M., 394

Prussia, Crown Prince of, 77

Prussia, Frederick William, King of, 273
  Crown Princess of, 107
  Crown Prince of, 170, 218


Régnier, Archduke, 369

Réjane, Mme., 393

Riario-Storza, Duchesse, 154

Richard, M. Maurice, 187

Richter, Captain von, 208

Ridgway, Miss, 154

Ripon, Lord, 25

Rivas, Duchesse de, 153

Rochefort, M. Henri, 80, 284, 336, 345

Romieu, M., 271

Ronalds, Mrs., 155, 386

Rooney, the Abbé, 392

Rose, J. H., 277

Rostopchine, Comte, 152

Rothschild, Baron and Baronne Alphonse de, 162

Rouher, M., 271, 311-314, 320

Rowles, Miss, 31

Royer, M. de, 271

Rudolph, Archduke, 378

Russell, Lord John, 88


Sagan, Princesse de, 73, 149, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 164
  Prince de, 158, 159, 160

Saint-Amand, Baron Imbert de, 101, 237

Saint-Arnaud, Marshal, 270, 271

Saint-Genest, M., 303

Salemi, Comte de, 350

Sandeau, Jules, 135

Sardou, M. Victorien, 80

“Savelli, La,” 393

Saxe-Coburg, Prince Philip of, 350, 379

Saxony, King (Albert) of, 208
  Crown Prince of, 219

Schneider, Hortense, 151

Schneider, M., 193, 271

Schöler, General von, 210

Scholl, Aurélien, 144, 145

Schouvaloff, Count, 75

Seckendorff, Count von, 220

Seillière, Baron, 156
  M. Frank, 159

Sesto, Duc de, 4, 37, 60

Seymour, Lord H., 152

Sheridan, General, 206

Silberer, Victor, 206

Sinçay, M. Saint-Pol de, 363

Sophia, Queen of Holland, 387

“Sornette,” 160, 161

Soubeyran, M., 149, 150

Soumain, General, 186

Spain, Queen of, 392

Stiegler, M. Gaston, 102-105

Stoffel, Colonel, 162, 279, 321-338

Sutherland, Duchess of, 105-107

Sutherland-Gower, Lord Ronald, 105-107, 235, 236

Sweden, King of, 387

Swetchine, Mme., 153


Taisey-Chatenoy, Marquise de, 43

Talhouët, M., 281

Thélin, Charles, 24, 25, 26, 102

Thérèsa, 142, 149

Thiers, M., 22, 41, 181, 286

Thompson, Sir H., 300, 301

Thouvenel, M., 125, 126

Toledo, M. de, 153

Torre, Duchesse de la, 153

Toulongeon, Colonel de, 33, 35

Trécesson, General de, 213

Trochu, General, 176, 177, 179, 193, 194, 224, 326

Tuileries, list of objects found at the, 240-244

Turkey, the Sultan of, 389


Uhlmann, M., 392


Vaillant, Marshal, 126

Valençay, Duc de, 156

Vambéry, Arminius, 275

Vassoigne, General, 211

Vaughan, Baroness, 378

Vaughan, Mrs., 73, 386, 389
  Miss, 386, 391

Véron, M., 271

Victor Emmanuel II., 296, 359

Victor Emmanuel III., 348, 371

Victoria, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein, 392

Victoria, Queen, 5, 6, 94-98, 125, 127, 273, 275, 375, 376, 377, 389, 390

Vieil-Castel, M., 41

Villeneuve, Marquis de, 385

Villiers, Lady Clementina, 31

Vimercati, Count, 168, 298

Visconti-Venosta, Marquis, 166

Vitzthum, Count, 297


Wagner, Richard, 145, 146, 147

Wagram, Prince de (and daughter), 31, 45

Waldteuffel, M., 335

Wales, Prince and Princess, 128, 377
  Prince of, 163, 164

Wedding of Prince Napoleon and Princesse Clémentine, 345-357

Welschinger, M. H., 291, 292

Westphalia, ex-King of, 33, 35, 272, 281

Whitehurst, Felix, 70, 71, 72, 73

William, King (of Prussia), 74, 76, 126, 204,
    205, 206, 208, 215, 218, 219, 220, 281, 291,
    296, 327

Wimpffen, General de, 210, 212, 213, 214, 215

Wolff, Sir Henry Drummond, 221

Worth, M., 144

Würtemburg, King of, 359

Wyse, Mr. Napoleon Gerald Bonaparte, 385
  Mr. C. W. Bonaparte, 385


Zola, Émile, 216, 217, 218, 318



“_Holds the attention because the information is at first-hand._”--DAILY




_Author of “The Comedy and Tragedy of the Second Empire.”_

Demy 8vo.   Illustrated.   2nd Impression.   =7s. 6d.= net.

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     cause of the Franco-Prussian War. She lives on still, a woman
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                   *       *       *       *       *

                           ISABELLA OF MILAN

                          By CHRISTOPHER HARE

_Author of “The Most Illustrious Ladies of the Italian Renaissance,”
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                             QUEEN MARGOT


                          By H. NOEL WILLIAMS

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[1] This has been confirmed by M. Émile Ollivier in the “Revue des Deux
Mondes” (1911).

[2] “Quarterly Review,” April, 1910.

[3] “Les Élégances du Second Empire.” Par Henri Bouchot. Paris: À la
Librairie Illustrée. 1896.

[4] “La Cour des Tuileries” (Conférence prononcée à la Société des
Conférences le 17 janvier, 1910). Paris: “La Revue Hebdomadaire” (Plon),
1910. “Mes Souvenirs et Impressions.” Par le Marquis de Massa. Paris:

[5] General Palat, author of “La Guerre de 1870-1871,” completed in
October, 1910. In seventeen volumes. Paris and Nancy: Levrault et Cie.

[6] Péladan, the “Figaro,” March 19, 1910.

[7] Author of an article on French Children in “Blackwood’s Magazine,”
December, 1871.

[8] “Reminiscences of Carl Schurz.” London: John Murray. 1909.

[9] “Etions-nous prêts?” Par Émile Ollivier. Tome XV. Paris: Garnier.

[10] Paris: E. Dentu. 1868.

[11] Paris: Victor Havard. 1894. London and New York: Harper and

[12] “L’Impératrice Eugénie.” Paris: Sociétés des Publications
Littéraires Illustrées. 1909.

[13] “Amours Tragiques de Napoléon III.” Paris: Albin Michel. 1910.

[14] “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper and Brothers. New
York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[15] Vide “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper and Brothers.
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[16] “Contemporary France,” by Gabriel Hanotaux. London: Constable.

[17] This lady was at Chislehurst when, in 1873, the Emperor passed

[18] The Exhibition building was erected at the western end of the park,
midway between Rotten Row and the Ladies’ Mile.

[19] “She is a very beautiful woman, who will be well able to maintain
her position, inasmuch as they say she is ‘made for the part.’”

[20] Paris: Félix Juven.

[21] The King himself is asserted to have declared that “not a drop of
Bonaparte blood flowed in the boy’s veins.”

[22] M. de La Guéronnière.

[23] At the Bibliothèque Nationale there is an interpretation of the
“Prédiction Miraculeuse du Grand Albert sur Louis Napoléon Bonaparte,”
published two years before December 2, 1851 (the date of the coup

[24] “Idées Napoléoniennes.”

[25] The site of the Royal Societies Club, which (1911) numbers among
its members a Bonaparte (Prince Roland).

[26] The Prince is also said to have had lodgings at one time at
Waterloo Place.

[27] “Mémoires inédits sur Napoléon III.” Par le Baron d’Ambès;
Recueillis et Annotés par Charles Simond et M. C. Poinsot. Paris:
Société des Publications Littéraires Illustrées.

[28] The nominal author of a remarkable pamphlet written at Wilhelmshöhe
by Napoleon III.

[29] This promise Conneau kept. He shared the Prince’s captivity at Ham,
and heard the last words Spoken by Napoleon III. on January 9, 1873:
“Etiez-vous à Sedan?”

[30] The mother was Alexandrine Vergeot, a maker of sabots, who helped
the prison-porter’s wife to keep the canteen tidy. She married Louis
Napoleon’s foster-brother, and died poor at Paris in 1886.

[31] King of Holland, 1806-1810.

[32] This lady died in 1910.

[33] “L’Impératrice Eugénie.” Paris: Société des Publications
Littéraires Illustrées. 1909.

[34] King of Westphalia, grandfather of Prince Victor and General Prince
Louis Napoleon.

[35] “Souvenirs de la Duchesse de Dino” (_Chronique_, tome iv.). Paris:

[36] The ever-recurring infidelities of her consort prompted the
long-suffering Empress to absent herself from France for a while, and to
confide her troubles to Queen Victoria.

[37] Mme. de Ferronays.

[38] A prominent Minister of the period.

[39] The Emperor’s description in the local records.

[40] M. Pinard was a prominent Minister, who died in 1910.

[41] Mme. De Arcos and her sister, Mrs. Vaughan, reside in London
(1911). The first-named lady represented the Empress Eugénie at the
funeral of Queen Victoria.

[42] His son, the present Baron, one of the doughtiest of Bonapartists,
after the war married the celebrated actress, Mme. Reichenberg, who
assisted at a charitable fête in 1911.

[43] A well-known artiste.

[44] General Roguet, who was sitting outside, had been badly injured in
the neck, and bled profusely.

[45] Derived from “Amours tragiques de Napoléon III.,” by Gaston
Stiegler. Dedicated to M. Adrien Hébrard, rédacteur-en-chief of _Le

[46] For what is known as “the Orsini attempt” to murder the Emperor and
Empress on January 14, 1858, Orsini and Pierri were executed. Gomez and
Count Rudio were sent to the galleys for life, the latter having been
reprieved at the last moment. Rudio escaped from his prison, and died in
California in 1910, aged seventy-seven.

[47] Then Prime Minister.

[48] Palikao (Montauban) was War Minister, under the Empress’s Regency,
at the downfall of the Empire.

[49] The idea of Napoleon III. appears to have been to secure what he
called “the American equilibrium” by founding in Mexico “a regenerating

[50] Prosper Mérimée.

[51] “Amours Tragiques de Napoléon III.” Par Gaston Stiegler. Paris:
Albin Michel.

[52] Dr. Conneau was with the Emperor at Sedan, at Wilhelmshöhe, and at
Chislehurst until the end came in January, 1873.

[53] The Duchess of Sutherland.

[54] There had been serious misunderstandings between the Emperor and
Empress, and the latter came to London for a few days, staying at
Claridge’s, en route to Scotland.

[55] Napoleon III. made a somewhat similar present to the Prince of
Wales (King Edward VII.).

[56] “Reminiscences,” 3 vols., 1910. London: Unwin.

[57] “Salathiel,” a romance, by George Croly, on the subject of the
Wandering Jew.

[58] Until the autumn of 1910 the Flora Pavilion remained undisturbed.
Then some changes were made for Government purposes in the
rez-de-chaussée and the two floors, the kitchens being left intact, just
as they were prior to 1870.

[59] Nothing remains of the cellars but the walls. All the furniture,
fittings, and utensils of the Tuileries kitchens have been preserved
intact, and this sous-sol of the Flora Pavilion is now one of the
curiosities of the Louvre.

[60] The late Lord Glenesk, in a conversation with Lady Dorothy Nevill
shortly before his death.

[61] Uncle of Mrs. Borthwick (Lady Glenesk).

[62] “Partant pour la Syrie,” composed by Queen Hortense, became the
French National Hymn under Napoleon III. It was founded upon the
imaginary exploits of a soldier, Dunois, in Palestine, and, translated,
was a very popular song in England in the fifties and sixties.

[63] Bismarck had been recalled from St. Petersburg to replace Comte
Albert de Pourtalès at Paris.

[64] James de Chambrier.

[65] The Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès (who happily survives in 1911)
had, it is true, courageously uttered no vague warnings; but they fell
on heedless ears.

[66] “Souvenirs et Impressions.” Paris: Calmann-Lévy.

[67] Of the five ladies mentioned, two survive in 1911--Princesse de
Metternich and Mme. E. de Pourtalès. Mme. Bartholoni died this year.

[68] “L’Impératrice Eugénie.” Par Pierre de Lano. Paris: Victor-Havard.

[69] M. Pierre de Lano.

[70] The “star” of the Alcazar--the Yvette Guilbert of the Second Empire

[71] The Empress.

[72] She still (1911) resides at Vienna, and is one of the
rapidly-vanishing participants in the splendours of the Second Empire.

[73] This was a pardonable exaggeration. We know from the Princess’s own
lips that her fan was too valuable to be destroyed in a moment of anger.

[74] M. Chauchart died in 1910, leaving an enormous fortune and a
marvellous collection of works of art.

[75] “Entre l’Apogée et le Déclin,” par James de Chambrier. Paris:

[76] Ludovic de Grammont (sometimes spelt with one “m”), Duc de
Caderousse, died in 1865.

[77] The Irish Emma Crouch, whose father composed “Kathleen Mavourneen.”

[78] Brother of Prince Anatole Demidoff, who married Princesse Mathilde,
aunt of the Princes Victor and Louis Napoleon.

[79] “Sornette.”

[80] It was this old soldier whose support was so anxiously sought by
Napoleon III. after Sedan.

[81] Mme. (Edmond) de Pourtalès is (1911) the sole survivor of these
four charmeuses.

[82] The wealthy gentleman who adopted the Baron de Forest as his son.

[83] One of the heroes of the historical cavalry charge at Sedan.

[84] Daughter of Baron Lionel, sister of Lord Rothschild, and widow of
Baron Alphonse. She died on January 6, 1911.

[85] Needless to say, Sunday is the great race-day in Paris: the reason
why “the Prince”--the King--of happy memory never witnessed the contest
for the Grand Prix.

[86] In other words, the question of protecting the Pope.

[87] The Prince Imperial’s so-called “baptism of fire.”

[88] Count Vimercati, one of the Emperor of Austria’s representatives.

[89] M. Franceschini Pietri, the Emperor’s Secretary.

[90] The day of her flight from the Tuileries.

[91] Subsequently the late Baron de Hirsch purchased this hôtel, No. 1,
Rue de l’Elysée, at the corner of the Avenue Gabriel.

[92] After Sedan General Chazal conducted Napoleon III. from Belgium to
Verviers (Prussia).

[93] This officer is now an Admiral. He visited the Empress Eugénie at
Cap Martin in February, 1911.

[94] All these valuables were delivered to the Empress soon after her
arrival in this country (September 8, 1870).

[95] I am greatly indebted to MM. Plon-Nourrit, the eminent Paris
publishers, for most kindly permitting me to print the Sovereigns’ war
despatches and the summary of events in August, 1870. They are from the
valuable work, “Le Maréchal Canrobert,” by the well-known writer, M.
Germain Bapst, an admitted authority on the subject. Five volumes of
this brilliant historical work have already appeared through MM.
Plon-Nourrit et Cie., and M. Bapst is engaged upon the sixth volume, to
be issued in 1912.

[96] August, 1870.

[97] H. Sutherland Edwards, Edward Legge, and Victor Silberer.

[98] The narrative of General V. Pajol, aide-de-camp of Napoleon III. To
the best of my belief it has not appeared in any French, and certainly
not in any English, volume.

[99] “La Débâcle.”

[100] _Revue des Deux Mondes._

[101] This historical episode had an echo in 1888. The Colonel, then a
member of the Reichstag, was unexpectedly sent for by Bismarck, who
said: “The Press has been stating that I treated Napoleon with undue
roughness upon the occasion of our meeting at Donchéry. You were the
only eye-witness of the scene, so do you tell them the truth.”

[102] This remarkable document appears textually only in “The Empress
Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper & Brothers. New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[103] From the late Duc de Conegliano’s volume (1897), “La Maison de
l’Empereur,” preface by Frédéric Masson. Paris: Calmann Lévy.

[104] Statement by M. Pietri to “Le Matin” in 1910.

[105] This pavilion was not destroyed by the Communards in 1871. It
contains the kitchens of the Tuileries (_vide_ p. 108).

[106] Mother of Napoleon I.

[107] Of these four ladies, two survive in 1911--the Duchesse de Mouchy
and the Comtesse E. de Pourtalès.

[108] The letters are reproduced by arrangement with Herrn Paul

[109] The Emperor’s former Secretary, and later a Deputy.

[110] “Les Forces Militaires de la France en 1870.”

[111] Charles Thelin had been the Emperor’s valet at Ham, and was
employed in a confidential capacity during the reign.

[112] “Mémoires inédits sur Napoléon III.,” par le Baron d’Ambès.
Recueillis et Annotés par Charles Simond et M. C. Poinsot. Paris:
Société des Publications Littéraires Illustrées.

[113] “Memoirs of General von Gerlach.” Published, in German only, in

[114] “Men and Things of My Time,” by the Marquis de Castellane. London:
Chatto and Windus. 1911.

[115] Probably a reference to a public religious service in connection
with the Crimean War.

[116] “The Story of my Struggles,” by Arminius Vambéry.

[117] In Roman history the period of the reigns of Antoninus Pius and
Marcus Aurelius was generally characterized by domestic tranquillity.

[118] “The Development of Nations,” by J. H. Rose. London: Constable.

[119] Napoleon III., January 3, 1870.

[120] Editor of “Le Figaro.”

[121] His Majesty’s own detailed statement of the causes which, in his
opinion, led to the defeat of his army at Sedan appears textually in the
volume, “The Empress Eugénie: 1870--1910” (and, I think, in no other
work). London: Harper and Brothers; New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

[122] “La Captivité de Napoléon III. en Allemagne,” par le Général Comte
C. de Monts, Gouverneur de Cassel. “Souvenirs traduits de l’Allemand,”
par Paul Bruck Gilbert et Paul Lévy. Préface de Jules Claretie, de
l’Académie Française. Paris, Pierre Lafitte et Cie. 1910.

This positive statement of General von Monts is confirmed by M. Émile
Ollivier (“Le Figaro,” October 22, 1910). The Marquis de Gricourt was a
Chamberlain of Napoleon III. and also a Senator.

[123] Through the Liberal Empire.

[124] One of the cardinal points of the Emperor’s policy, foreshadowed
by him when he was in London in 1839-40.

[125] M. Ollivier’s critics condemn him for disregarding Marshal Niel’s
earnest appeals to increase the military forces of the Empire, and so
put the country in a proper state of defence. The annual contingent was,
in fact, as the Emperor notes, _reduced_ by 10,000 men!

[126] His Majesty ignores the fact that for at least two years there had
been throughout the country a growing feeling of discontent, aroused, to
a large extent, by M. Henri Rochefort’s denunciations (in the
“Lanterne”) of the Emperor, the Empress, and the Court.

[127] These extracts were doubtless translated by the Emperor himself,
for not one of those who were with him at Wilhelmshöhe could speak a
word or read a line of German! Napoleon III. had an almost better
acquaintance with German than with French, and he spoke French as many
Germans speak it, the result of his early education in Germany and

[128] A Bonapartist intransigeant who greatly influenced the Empress.

[129] Strictly speaking, it was exactly five weeks later.

[130] July, 1870.

[131] “Les Causes et les Responsabilités de la Guerre de 1870.” Par H.
Welschinger. Paris: Plon. 1910.

[132] To similar assertions the Empress Eugénie, in her Reply to her
Accusers, gives an emphatic denial.

[133] Part of the chorus of one of Nadaud’s popular songs.

[134] _Revue des Deux Mondes_ (January 1, 1911). “La Guerre de 1870:
Notre Première Défaite.”

[135] _Ibid._

[136] The Baron de Mackau (previously referred to in this chapter).

[137] Known at the Foreign Offices, but unknown to the outside world,
the Press included.

[138] From the hitherto unpublished correspondence of Count Beust,
Chancellor of Austria-Hungary, July, 1870.--“Deutsche Rundschau,” 1910.

[139] London: Harper and Brothers. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

[140] “Peasants, you are being deceived.”

[141] Communicated by the Vicomte de La Chapelle (1911). The Comte de La
Chapelle’s dramatic description of the painful scene at Camden Place,
Chislehurst, on the day of the Emperor’s death is given in the volume,
“The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper and Brothers. New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[142] He had been convicted of treason in December, 1870, but the
death-sentence was commuted to twenty years’ imprisonment. He escaped on
August 9, 1874.

[143] The Vicomte thus confirms the assertions on this point published
in “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper and Brothers. New
York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[144] Communicated by the Vicomte de La Chapelle (1911).

[145] The loans for paying the war indemnity of five milliards

[146] The Emperor.

[147] The Emperor died on January 9.

[148] The Comte de La Chapelle had supported Zola in the Press
respecting one of the historical passages in “La Débâcle.”

[149] See the facsimile on the previous page.

[150] Colonel Stoffel’s Reports were published in 1871 under the title,
“Rapports Militaires Ecrits de Berlin: 1866-1870.” Paris: Garnier.

[151] The Colonel died in 1907, aged eighty-eight.

[152] M. Émile Ollivier, writing in the “Revue des Deux Mondes”
(December 1, 1910), proves that Lebœuf was absolutely accurate when, in
July, 1870, he said emphatically, “Nous sommes prêts, archi-prêts” (We
are ready--more than ready).

[153] M. Pietri’s deeply-interesting and historically-important letters
appeared in the influential and deservedly popular magazine, the “Revue
de Paris,” on June 15 and July 1, 1911. I am greatly indebted to the
Editor of the “Revue de Paris” for very kindly allowing me to print some
extracts from these valuable documents, which are “revelations” in the
best sense of the word.

[154] General Trochu, the valiant soldier who deserted the Empress in
her great extremity (September, 1870).

[155] Prince Napoleon, father of the Bonapartist Pretender of to-day.

[156] The needle-gun (Zundnadelgewehr), first used by the Prussians in
warfare that year (1866) in the Austrian campaign.

[157] Wife of the Minister of Marine in 1851, and again from March,
1859, until January, 1867.

[158] Daughters of General Cousin-Montauban, Comte de Palikao.

[159] Daughters of Admiral Bruat (who died at sea on returning from the
Crimea to France).

[160] The Imperial Hunt.

[161] A devoted ally of the Empress Eugénie. He survives in 1911.

[162] M. Pietri hints that the Prussian postal officials were “très

[163] “Who goes slowly, goes well. Who goes well, goes far.”

[164] Literally, “drinkers of blood”; figuratively, “bloodthirsty.”

[165] It may be safely assumed that these amounts came from the
Emperor’s purse.

[166] The Emperor.

[167] The Bismarcks.

[168] Bismarck.

[169] The chassepot.

[170] Divisional-General Frossard, aide-de-camp of the Emperor, member
of the Committee of Fortifications. Governor and chief of the Military
Household of the Prince Imperial from 1868.

[171] The Belgian National Anthem.

[172] It was pointed out to the Prince that “la République a bien du
monde à caser; elle a fait beaucoup d’enfants qui veulent être nourris
et pensionnés.”

[173] By inadvertence the Princess was described in the “banns” as the
“eldest,” instead of the “youngest,” daughter of the late King and

[174] Napoleon I. always objected to the use of the surname “Bonaparte”;
consequently, the three stones (now to be seen at the Invalides) on his
tomb at St. Helena bore, and bear, no inscription.

[175] The Royal Basilica, near Turin.

[176] This lady, one of Princesse Napoleon’s dames d’honneur, is a
daughter of that Duc de Bassano who was the Grand Chamberlain of
Napoleon III. He was at Chislehurst with the Imperial Family, and,
later, was often to be seen at the Empress Eugénie’s residence,
Farnborough Hill. The author has occasion to remember him with

[177] This was presented to Princesse Napoléon on April 6, 1911, by the
Duchesse d’Albuféra, who was begged by the imperial couple to convey
their grateful thanks to the dames Françaises for their superb gift.

[178] This was nonsensical. Etiquette precludes the King’s guests from
visiting the Pope.

[179] The day following the Empress Eugénie’s flight from the Tuileries,
and the same day on which Her Imperial Majesty actually left Paris for
the coast.

[180] It would be idle to suppress a fact which everybody knew, and
knows, that the Prince had been a Freethinker all his life.

[181] Princesse Clotilde died at Moncalieri on June 25, 1911.

[182] In a letter to Théophile Gautier.

[183] M. Gérard Harry, the celebrated Belgian publicist, author of a
very pungent, detailed, and erudite criticism, in “La Grande Revue”
(Paris), of the volume “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper
and Brothers; New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[184] M. Harry Gérard.

[185] “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper and Brothers; New
York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. This volume contains the only “intimate”
account of the Empress’s English home ever published.

[186] Constructed and erected in 1910, a few months before the visit of
Prince Napoléon and Princesse Clémentine to the Empress at Farnborough

[187] “The Empress Eugénie: 1870-1910.” London: Harper and Brothers. New
York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[188] Paris: Ollendorff. 1911.

[189] His official title was “Commissaire Spécial, attaché aux
Souverains étrangers en France,” a post which he resigned nearly two
years ago.

[190] When this monstrous tale of an alleged liaison was widely
published eight years later--in January, 1887--I denied it in the _Pall
Mall Gazette_, on the authority of Monsignor Goddard. In 1911 it was
again revived.

[191] June 7 and 8, 1911.

[192] “The Empress Eugénie, 1870-1910.” London: Harper and Brothers; New
York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1910.

[193] November 2, 1910: St. Michael’s, Farnborough.

[194] “In Memory of the Prince Imperial.” Sermon at St. Mary’s,
Chislehurst, on Sunday, July 13, 1879, by Henry Edward, Cardinal

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