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Full text of "Famous American belles of the nineteenth century"



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FAMOUS 



RY 

:SITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 
SANTA CRUZ 



Famous American Belles 

of the 
Nineteenth Century 



Famous American 

Belles of the 
Nineteenth Century 

By 
Virginia Tatnall Peacock 



ILLUSTRATED 




Philadelphia CT London 

J. B. Lippincott Company 

1901 



COPYRIGHT, 1900 

BY 
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 



ELiCTROTYPED AND PRINTED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA, U.S.A. 



To 

My Dear Mother 

from whom I derived my frst 

conception of all that is 

most beautiful in 

woman 



PREFACE 

DURING the century now drawing to its close 
there have appeared in America from time to 
time women of so pre-eminent a beauty, so 
dazzling a wit, so powerful a magnetism, that their 
names belong no less to the history of their country 
than those of the men whose genius has raised it to the 
rank it holds to-day among the nations of the earth. 
Among them have been women of the highest type of 
mental and moral development, women of great political 
and of great social genius, all of whom have left the 
impress of their remarkable personalities upon their 
time. When they have manifested these qualities in 
their girlhood they have risen frequently to an emi- 
nence such as it is scarcely possible for the women of 
any other country to attain at a correspondingly early 
age. 

From among the latter class the subjects of these 
sketches have been taken, those having been selected 
who seemed most adequately to represent their period 
and locality and whose fame was beyond question, it 
having been frequently of national and sometimes of 
international extent. 

Rising to wield the magic of their influence in every 



CONTENTS 

* 

PAGE 

MARCIA BURNS (Mrs. John Peter Van Ness) n 

THEODOSIA BURR (Mrs. Joseph Alston) 18 

ELIZABETH PATTERSON (Madame Jerome Bonaparte) 39 

THE CATON SISTERS 61 

MARGARET O'NEILL (Mrs. John H. Eaton) 69 

CORA LIVINGSTON (Mrs. Thomas Pennant Barton) 80 

EMILY MARSHALL (Mrs. William Foster Otis) 90 

OCTAVIA WALTON (Madame Le Vert) 102 

FANNY TAYLOR (Mrs. Thomas Harding Ellis) 118 

JESSIE BENTON (Mrs. John C. Fremont) 123 

SALLIE WARD (Mrs. George F. Downs) 148 

HARRIET LANE (Mrs. Henry Elliott Johnston) 161 

ADELE CUTTS (Mrs. Robert Williams) 175 

EMILIE SCHAUMBURG (Mrs. Hughes-Hallett) 190 

KATE CHASE (Mrs. William Sprague) 206 

MATTIE OULD (Mrs. Oliver Schoolcraft) 230 

JENNIE JEROME (Lady Randolph Churchill) 239 

NELLIE HAZELTINE (Mrs. Frederick W. Paramore) 257 

MARY VICTORIA LEITER ( Baroness Curzon of Kedleston) . . . 264 

NEW YORK AS A SOCIAL CENTRE . ... 288 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 

EMILY MARSHALL (Mrs. William Foster Otis). From por- 
trait painted by Chester Harding in 1830 ; owned by her 
daughter, Mrs. Samuel Eliot, of Boston, by whose permission 
it is here reproduced for the first time in colors . Frontispiece 

MARCIA BURNS (Mrs. John Peter Van Ness). From minia- 
ture by James Peale, painted in 1797 ; owned by the Corcoran 
Art Gallery, Washington, D. C ............... 12 

THEODOSIA BURR (Mrs. Joseph Alston). From the original 
engraving by Charles B. J. F. Saint Memin ; owned by 
Hampton L. Carson, Esq., of Philadelphia, by whose per- 
mission it is here reproduced ............... 22 

ELIZABETH PATTERSON (Madame Jerome Bonaparte). 
From portrait painted by Quingon ; owned by her grandson, 
Mr. Charles Bonaparte, of Baltimore, by whose permission it 
is here reproduced for the first time ............ 42 

MARY CATON (Lady Wellesley). From portrait owned by 
Mrs. Charles Carroll Mactavish, of Baltimore, daughter of 
General Winfield Scott. Painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 
and reproduced by permission of Miss Emily Mactavish, now 
Sister Mary Agnes of the Visitation, at Mount de Sales, 
Catonsville, Maryland ................... 64 

CORA LIVINGSTON (Mrs. Thomas Pennant Barton). From 
a miniature painted by herself. Reproduced for the first 
time by permission of her niece, Miss Julia Barton Hunt, of 
Montgomery Place, Barrytown-on-the-Hudson ....... 84 

OCTAVIA WALTON (Madame Le Vert). From portrait, re- 
produced by permission of her kinswoman, Miss Josephine 
Walton. Present owner, Mr. George Walton Reab, of Au- 
gusta, Georgia, grandson of Madame Le Vert ....... 104 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 



FANNY TAYLOR (Mrs. Thomas Harding Ellis). From por- 
trait painted by Thomas Sully. Reproduced for the first time 
by permission of her husband, Colonel Thomas Harding 
Ellis. Present owner, her adopted son, Mr. Beverly Randolph 
Harrison, of Amherst, Virginia 118 

SALLY CHEVALIER (Mrs. Abram Warwick). Painted by 
Thomas Sully. Reproduced for the first time by permission 
of Colonel Thomas Harding Ellis 122 

SALLIE WARD (Mrs. George F. Downs). From a miniature 
painted at the age of eighteen, owned by her husband, Mr. 
George F. Downs, of Louisville, Kentucky, by whose per- 
mission it is here reproduced for the first time 150 

HARRIET LANE (Mrs. Henry Elliott Johnston). From photo- 
graph by Julius Ulke 164 

ADELE CUTTS (Mrs. Robert Williams). From portrait by 
George Peter A. Healy, in possession of her husband, General 
Robert Williams, United States Army. Reproduced by per- 
mission of her daughter, Miss Adele Cutts Williams, of 
Washington, D. C 178 

EMILIE SCHAUMBURG (Mrs. Hughes-Hallett). From por- 
trait by Waugh, in possession of Mrs. Hughes-Hallett, of 
Dinar, France, by whose permission it is here reproduced for 
the first time 194 

KATE CHASE (Mrs. William Sprague). From photograph 

by Julius Ulke 212 

MATTIE OULD (Mrs. Oliver Schoolcraft). From photograph 
by George S. Cook. Reproduced by permission of her 
cousin, Mrs. Virginia Brownell, of Washington, D. C. ... 232 

LIZZIE CABELL (Mrs. Albert Ritchie). From photograph. 

Reproduced by permission of her sister, Mrs. John D. Lottier 234 

MARY TRIPLETT (Mrs. Philip Haxall). From photograph 

by Roseti. Reproduced by permission of her sister, Mrs. 

Meredith Montague 236 

xiv 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACE 

JENNIE JEROME (Lady Randolph Churchill). From photo- 
graph by Van der Weyde. Published by permission of 
Lady Churchill 244 

NELLIE HAZELTINE (Mrs. Frederick W. Paramore). From 
photograph by J. C. Strauss ; by permission of her brother, 
Mr. W. B. Hazeltine, Jr 258 

JENNIE CHAMBERLAIN (Lady Nay lor -Ley land). From 

the painting by H. Schmiechen 266 

MATTIE MITCHELL (Duchesse de Rochefoucauld). Daugh- 
ter of ex-Senator Mitchell, of Oregon. From photograph by 
C. M. Bell 272 

MARY VICTORIA LEITER (Baroness Curzon of Kedleston). 
From photograph by Miss Alice Hughes, of London. By 
permission of Lady Curzon 276 

MISS MAY HANDY, of Richmond, Virginia. From photo- 
graph by James L. Breese 284 

CATHERINE DUER (Mrs. Clarence Mackay), of New York. 

From portrait 288 



MARCIA BURNS 

(MRS. JOHN PETER VAN NESS) 

MARCIA BURNS ! What memories the quaint 
Scotch lassie's name calls up ! 

The city of Washington disappears and its 
site spreads before us in flourishing farm lands and 
orchards. Scattered farm-houses raise their chimneys 
amid primeval oaks and elms, and from the low door- 
way of the humblest emerges the winsome form of 
Marcia Burns. Six hundred acres, representing the 
thrift of generations of Scotch ancestors, surround her. 
The Potomac, one of the great water-ways of the 
South, carrying the produce of the fertile lands above 
into Alexandria for consumption or reshipment, almost 
kisses her feet. This is her patrimony, over which 
she has already heard such spirited debate between 
her father and General Washington, then Presi- 
dent of the United States, and the three gentlemen 
commissioned by Congress, at that time sitting in 
Philadelphia, to select and purchase the ground on 
which is to be built the capital city. As she looks 
riverward a canoe is beached in the shadow of the vine- 
hung trees, and the President, accompanied by two of 
the commissioners, whose forms have of late grown 



ii 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

familiar to her childish eyes, have come again to confer 
with her father, whom Washington has already dubbed 
44 the obstinate Mr. Burns." 

"And I suppose you think," says Burns, as the 
dispute again waxes warm, " that people here are going 
to take every grist that comes from you as pure grain. 
But what would you have been if you had not married 
the widow Custis*?" Gracefully or ungracefully, how- 
ever, he must eventually yield, for the " Widow's 
Mite," as Burns's acres were described in the land 
patent of 1681 which bestowed them upon his emi- 
grant ancestor, form part of the tract which Maryland 
has ceded to the nation for its capital. Here is stalwart 
Johnson, governor of the State, to emphasize the fact 
with many a round oath that makes the gentle Marcia's 
heart stand still. 

44 And yonder lassie," says Daniel Carroll, " will be 
the greatest heiress hereabouts." Davy Burns' eyes 
wander towards his daughter. He is long silent. The 
shadows have lengthened into darkness when he says, 
44 Very well, sirs, take the land, and I leave it to your 
fairness to fix the terms." 

Supper is served, and the guests are accommodated 
for the night beneath the moss-grown roof of the 
attic, for Burns' cottage boasts but four rooms, two 
sleeping-rooms, a sitting-room, and a dining-room, the 
kitchen being built apart from the house, as was the 
custom of the time and country. Unpretentious as the 
little abode is, the deed conveying the property to the 
commissioners, in trust for the government, provides 



12 




Marcia Burns 

(Mrs. John Peter Van Ness) 
From miniature by James Peale, 1797 



MARCIA BURNS 

that the streets of the new city shall be so laid out as 
not to interfere with it. 

Marcia Burns was but yet a child when fate wrought 
the change in her destiny which no wisdom could have 
foreseen. By the death of her only brother she became 
sole heiress to what was at that time an immense for- 
tune. Yet it is not through the magnitude of her 
wealth that she illumines the period in which the 
lines of her life were cast. It is through the exquisite 
qualities of a most exalted womanhood. 

With wise forethought and some premonition of 
the change about to take place in her life, her parents 
placed her in the family of Luther Martin, in Balti- 
more. Martin was at that time at the height of his 
fame as an advocate at the Maryland bar. In the 
enlightened atmosphere of his home, Marcia grew up 
in close companionship with his daughters, her refined 
nature imperceptibly acquiring that ease and grace 
which were ever afterwards characteristic of her, and 
her receptive mind readily cultivating those attributes 
that were to render her most attractive in conversation 
to such men as Hamilton, Burr, Marshall, Randolph, 
and Webster. 

That face of nature familiar to her from her infancy 
was in a state of unlovely transition when she again 
returned to her home. Verdant orchards and sloping 
meadow lands had been divided into building lots and 
crossed and recrossed by muddy thoroughfares. In 
what had been a piece of woods within a stone's throw 

'3 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of her father's home, the President's house was nearing 
completion. A mile and a half to the east, on the 
summit of a hill, the white walls of the Capitol were 
becoming visible to all the surrounding country. At 
irregular intervals houses, single and in rows, were in 
course of construction. There was nothing in the so- 
called city of Washington to which Marcia Burns 
came home, and of which the government took formal 
possession in 1800, that ever so remotely suggested the 
garden spot that it is to-day. Members of Congress 
and foreign ministers alike reviled it, and the lamenta- 
tions of Mrs. Adams are too well known to be repeated 
here. 

Of such social life as there was scattered over so 
vast an area of mud, in which " pedestrians frequently 
slumped and horses became stalled," Marcia Burns 
became a central figure. Though she was too gentle 
and modest ever to assume a leadership, yet all that 
was best and brightest in the life about her naturally 
gravitated in her direction. 

Notwithstanding the pretentious homes that were 
going up around her, she still dwelt contentedly in 
her cottage of four rooms. There, in the summer 
evenings, gathered on the low, broad stone slab of 
its south door, overhung with blooming wistaria, her 
friends and neighbors, the Tayloes from the after- 
wards famous Octagon house, the Calverts, and the 
Daniel Carrolls from Duddington Manor over near the 
Capitol. 

In the winter season, when Congress was in session, 

14 



MARCIA BURNS 

the cheery sitting-room and the hospitable dining-room 
were seldom without their guests. There came Aaron 
Burr, to flatter her as he flattered every attractive 
woman with whom he came in contact, and gallant 
Hamilton, the lover of all lovely women, and Ran- 
dolph of Roanoke, seeking balm for his tempestuous 
spirit in that sweet and gracious presence, and Jefferson, 
to admire, with all the ardor of his democratic soul, 
the simplicity of her life. There, too, Tom Moore 
was entertained during his visit to Washington, whence 
he returned home to write things that did not make 
pleasant reading matter about the city and Mr. Jeffer- 
son, who was our President at the time and who 
had looked rather patronizingly upon the foppish little 
Irish bard. There also came suitors for the hand of 
Marcia, men with a nobility of soul that enabled them 
properly to estimate the beauty of her character, as well 
as men who were attracted simply by the stories of her 
great wealth. 

In 1802, when she was twenty years old, she became 
the wife of John Peter Van Ness, a member of Con- 
gress from New York. He had been graduated from 
Columbia College and admitted to the bar of his 
native State. In 1800, when he was thirty years old, 
he was elected to Congress. His youth, his graceful, 
winning manners, his handsome countenance, and his 
wealth won him an easy popularity in the society of 
the capital. 

Shortly after the death of Marcia's father, Van Ness 
erected, close by the old cottage, one of the hand- 
is 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

somest houses of that day in the city and one th 
compares not unfavorably with the most elegant horn 
built there in recent years. It was designed and bu: 
by Latrobe at a cost of nearly sixty thousand dollai 
its marble mantel-pieces, which are works of art, beir 
imported from Italy. It had, moreover, a forte cocker 
which was a rarity in those days, the President 
house having the only other one in Washington, 
truly magnificent home it was, and destined to be tl 
scene of many brilliant occasions, as also to witne 
days as full of heart-rending unhappiness to Marc 
Burns as those both in the cottage of her girlhoc 
and the home of her early married life had been c 
pure joyousness. 

With all its treasures of art, the chief ornament c 
the new home was Ann Van Ness, who complete 
her studies at a boarding-school in Philadelphia ar 
returned to Washington about the time her paren 
took possession of it. Two years later she marrie 
Arthur Middleton, of South Carolina, the son of 
signer of the Declaration of Independence, and pro! 
ably that same Arthur Middleton, of whom Mi 
Edward Livingston made mention in a letter to h 
husband ten years later to the effect that his mou 
taches, whiskers, and velvet shirt were creating mo: 
of a sensation in New York than the quarrel betwee 
Jackson and Calhoun. Ann died within a year aft< 
her marriage. She was an only child, and to hi 
mother life held nothing that could amend her los 
Thenceforth she withdrew from the sphere to which sh 

16 



MARCIA BURNS 

had been since her early girlhood so great an ornament. 
She frequently sought the seclusion of the little cottage, 
and there, perhaps, lived over in memory the days that 
had known no shadow. 

She did not need the discipline of sorrow, which 
some natures require to sweeten them, but under its 
influence she rose to the loftiest heights of benevolence. 
Her pictured face reveals to us the beauty of her soul. 
The truth that speaks in her eyes, the spirituality of 
her brow, the tenderness of her mouth, combine to 
make the perfection of human character. The Wash- 
ington City Orphan Asylum, which she founded and 
to which she devoted both time and means, is a fitting 
monument to her memory. 

She died on the gth of September, 1832, and is the 
only woman who was ever honored with a public 
funeral in Washington. Through her charities she had 
become as widely known and as tenderly loved in the 
later years of her life as she had been in her youth 
through qualities not less endearing. 

The following tribute to her is by Horatio Greenough : 

" 'Mid rank and wealth and worldly pride, 
From every snare she turned aside. 
She sought the low, the humble shed, 
Where gaunt disease and famine tread ; 
And from that time, in youthful pride, 
She stood Van Ness's blooming bride, 
No day her blameless head o'er past 
But saw her dearer than the last." 



THEODOSIA BURR 

(MRS. JOSEPH ALSTON) 

THEODOSIA BURR was, as has been said of 
the daughter of another eminent statesman 
with whom Aaron Burr was closely identified, 
" the soul of her father's soul." If we would know 
the better part of a man who was one of the most 
remarkable characters of his age, we must know Theo- 
dosia, through whom, perhaps, his name, which all the 
subtlety of his soul was bent on immortalizing, may 
live to a better fame in the centuries to come than has 
attended it through the years of that in which he lived. 
Under the inspiration of her presence both her father 
and husband rose to lofty pinnacles in the political 
arena of their country. Her father on the eve of her 
marriage stood at the very portals of the Chief Magis- 
tracy. In less than ten years of political life he had so 
progressed that the election of 1800 resulted in a tie 
vote for the Presidency between Aaron Burr and 
Thomas Jefferson. 

In 1801, while the festivities attending Theodosia's 
marriage at Albany were at their height, the House of 
Representatives at Washington entered upon that long 

session of seven days which terminated in declaring 

is 



THEODOSIA BURR 

Thomas Jefferson President of the United States and 
Aaron Burr Vice-President. 

From the moment Theodosia linked her life with 
another's, and thus in a measure ceased to be part of 
his, the retrogressive period of Aaron Burr's life began. 

To her husband she carried that same inspiring in- 
fluence which she had wielded over her father. She 
gave an impetus to his luxuriant and aimless existence, 
and at the time of the tragedy which ended her twenty- 
nine years of life he was occupying the gubernatorial 
chair of his State. Her life was closely allied not 
only with the private interests, but with the political 
ambitions of both. Her father rarely dined, either 
among friends or strangers, that her health was not 
drunk. He made her known to everybody, and during 
his travels in Europe so interested Jeremy Bentham 
and other writers in her that they sent her sets of their 
books. 

At a time when woman was regarded rather as the 
companion of a man's heart than as his intellectual 
mate, " the soft green of the soul on which we rest our 
eyes that are fatigued with beholding more glaring 
objects," Theodosia Burr's mental faculties were so 
developed and trained as to fit her for the most com- 
plete and sympathetic union with father, husband, and 
son. 

It is but a negative tribute to say that she was by 
far the best-educated woman of her time and country. 
In the beauty of her mind and person she realized her 
father's ideal of a perfect woman, and amply satisfied 

19 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

his pride and vanity. On the eve of his duel with 
Hamilton he wrote to her, " I am indebted to you, my 
dearest Theodosia, for a very great portion of the happi- 
ness which I have enjoyed in this life. You have com- 
pletely satisfied all that my heart and affections had 
hoped for or ever wished." 

Theodosia was the only child of Burr's marriage 
with the widow of a British army officer who had lost 
his life in the West Indies. 

Fresh from the battle-fields of the Revolution, where 
he had won honors of which he was ever more te- 
nacious than of those achieved elsewhere, and but 
recently admitted to the bar after a brief period of 
study, his marriage to a woman ten years his senior 
and the mother of two well-grown boys was a source 
of genuiue wonderment to Burr's friends in New York. 
Young, of fascinating manner and appearance, some 
means, and good family, he might readily have aspired 
to an alliance with any one of those families which 
vvre a power in the State, the Livingstons, the Van 
Rcnsselaers, or the Clintons. But before he quitted the 
army, Burr had discovered the charms of the society at 
the " Hermitage," presided over by Mrs. De Visme and 
her two daughters, one of whom was the widow of 
Colonel Prevost. 

There he met the most distinguished men of his 
country, through whose influence this family had been 
spared the inconvenience of moving within the British 
lines at the outbreak of hostilities. In the library, 
there, he discovered a treasure-house of French litera- 

20 



THEODOSIA BURR 

ture, to which he was ever partial, and in the inter- 
change of thought which followed his reading, Aaron 
Burr and Mrs. Prevost became constantly more im- 
bued with a sense of the beauty and attraction of each 
other's minds. Through her he gleaned his first rever- 
ence for the intellectual power of woman, and to her 
he owed the happiest days of his life. 

" The mother of my Theo," he said, speaking of her 
towards the close of his life, " was the best woman and 
the finest lady I have ever known." In her finished 
manner, her fine bearing, and her exquisite mind there 
was a delicate harmony that soothed and satisfied Burr's 
artistic soul. His marriage to her in July, 1782, put 
an end to the rumor that he was paying his addresses 
to Miss De Visme, to which his frequent visits to the 
" Hermitage" had given rise. 

The first year of their married life was spent in 
Albany, where he was engaged in the practice of law, 
and where Theodosia was born on the 23d of June, 
1783. In the fall of that year her parents removed to 
the city of New York, where they had leased a house 
in Maiden Lane, at a rental of two hundred pounds 
per year, to commence from the time the British troops 
left New York, which they did on November 23, 

1783- 

So prosperous were Burr's financial affairs that he 
early in his married life acquired also the possession of 
a country seat, Richmond Hill, then two miles from 
the city. The house, a stately frame building with a 
lofty portico supported by Ionic columns, stood on a 



21 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

noble hill, several hundred feet in height, overlooking 
the river and the Jersey shore. It was surrounded by 
a lawn shaded by oaks, lindens, and cedars, on the out- 
skirts of which on all sides stretched woods of more 
than a hundred acres. Within the enclosure was a 
pond known for many years after the property had 
passed from Burr's possession as Burr's Pond. On it 
Theodosia learned the graceful art of skating when still 
quite a little girl. 

The house, built about the middle of the last century, 
was Washington's head-quarters in 1776, and Burr, who 
was there with him, conceived his first desire to become 
its possessor. It was occupied by John Adams during 
his tenure of the Vice-Presidency, when New York 
was the capital, and Burr's long possession of it culmi- 
nated in the elegant hospitality of which it was the 
scene during his term as Vice-President. He returned 
there from Washington at the close of the sessions of 
Congress, and entertained with a lavishness that event- 
ually bankrupted him. 

His library, which bespoke the critical taste of the 
scholar, and which he had begun to collect as a boy, 
was a feature of the house, recalled in after years by 
men who had been his guests as vividly as the brilliant 
dinner parties given beneath the same roof by the dis- 
tinguished Adams and his wife. He had his London 
bookseller, through whom he made constant additions 
to his collection, for Burr was ever a lover of books, 
and he recorded in his journal in his days of exile and 
want with what pangs he had been obliged to part with 



22 




Theodosia Burr 

(Mrs. Joseph Alston) 

By Charles B. J. F. Saint Memin 



THEODOSIA BURR 

some odd volumes he had with him upon discovering 
that he was again under the necessity of dining. 

His passion for books he imparted to his daughter, 
urging upon her at all times the necessity for study and 
improvement, and never relinquishing his endeavors to 
carry her mind to a high order of cultivation. In the 
communication he addressed to his son-in-law on the 
night before his duel with Hamilton, he asked as a last 
favor that he would urge Theodosia to continue to 
study. In all his letters to her his efforts to stimulate 
this habit were uppermost. " The longer I live," she 
wrote to him after her marriage, " the more frequently 
the truth of your advice evinces itself, that occupation 
is necessary to give us command over ourselves." 

In the development of her mind and character he 
pursued a clearly-defined and well-directed course. 
When she was ten years old he wrote to his wife from 
Philadelphia, where he was at the time occupying a 
seat in the Senate, reminding her that he had left a 
memorandum of what Theodosia was to learn during 
his absence. While his public duties were such that 
he was not able always to personally superintend her 
studies, he gave minute instructions to the tutors to 
whom he intrusted her, and constituted himself their 
vigilant and inexorable critic. "If your young teacher," 
he wrote to her when she was in her sixteenth year, 
" after a week's trial should not suit you, dismiss him 
on any pretence, without wounding his pride, and take 
the old Scotchman. Resolve to succeed, and you can- 
not fail." 

23 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Mary Wollstonecraft's book, " A Vindication of the 
Rights of Women," in which Burr became so absorbed 
that he sat up all night reading it, so affected him that 
its influence told on all Theodosia's life. On the princi- 
ples it inculcated were based both her mental and moral 
development. " If I could foresee," he wrote to his 
wife, " that Theodosia would become a mere fashion- 
able woman with all the attendant frivolity and vacuity 
of mind, adorned with whatever grace and allurement, 
I would earnestly pray God to take her forthwith 
hence. But I yet hope by her to convince the world 
what neither sex appears to believe, that women have 
souls." 

" And do you regret," he wrote to Theodosia her- 
self, when she was a little more than sixteen, " you are 
not also a woman *? That you are not numbered in 
that galaxy of beauty which adorns an assembly-room? 
Coquetting for admiration and attracting flattery ? No. 
I answer with confidence. You feel that you are ma- 
turing for solid friendship. The friends you gain you 
will never lose ; and no one, I think, will dare to insult 
your understanding by such compliments as are most 
graciously received by too many of your sex." 

Burr was himself an ornament to many a drawing- 
room, and no man ever had better opportunities for 
estimating the deficiencies in the system of educating 
the women of his day. Theodosia he brought up like 
a young Spartan, with few or none of the feminine 
affectations then in vogue. Courage and fortitude 

were his darling virtues, and so instilled into her from 

24 



THEODOSIA BURR 

her infancy that they formed almost the groundwork of 
her character. " No apologies or explanations. I hate 
them," he said, reproving her for some fault of omis- 
sion when she was a little child. " I beg and expect it 
of you," he wrote to her from Richmond, where he 
was awaiting trial for treason, and whither she was 
hastening to him, " that you will conduct yourself as 
becomes my daughter, and that you manifest no signs 
of weakness or alarm." 

Theodosia's affection for her father was the absorb- 
ing passion of her life. " You appear to me so supe- 
rior, so elevated above other men," she once wrote to 
him, " I contemplate you with such a strange mixture 
of humility, admiration, reverence, love, and pride, that 
very little superstition would be necessary to make me 
worship you as a superior being ; such enthusiasm does 
your character excite in me. When I afterwards revert 
to myself, how insignificant do my best qualities ap- 
pear. My vanity would be greater if I had not been 
placed so near you ; and yet my pride is our relation- 
ship. I had rather not live than not be the daughter 
of such a man." 

He sent his love to " the smiling little girl," in a 
letter he wrote his wife when Theodosia was two years 
old, not knowing that with his going she had not only 
ceased to smile, but that she wept bitterly and heart- 
brokenly whenever his name was mentioned, and that 
it required the combined efforts of her mother and 
nurse to divert her thoughts from the painful fact of 
his absence. As her mother said, the attachment which 

25 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

thus early manifested itself in so marked a manner, 
was not of a common nature. Theodosia's life is an 
evidence of how exalted it was, when, with all the 
world against him, she was yet proud to be his 
daughter. 

Burr exercised an almost hypnotic influence over 
both men and women, and there are extant innumerable 
anecdotes of the conquests he continually made over 
those who had gone forth to apprehend him as a vil- 
lain. In his intercourse with Theodosia he brought 
into play all those delicate attributes of his mind which 
captivated so many women. She was constantly in his 
thoughts. " The ideas of which you are the object, 
that daily pass through my mind," he wrote to her in 
1799, from Albany, where the Legislature was in ses- 
sion, " would, if committed to writing, fill an octavo 
volume. . . . Indeed, my dear Theodosia, I have many, 
many moments of solicitude about you." 

He exacted much of her even as a child, among 
other things that she should keep a journal in his absence, 
to be sent to him at regular intervals, and that she 
should answer his letters minutely and promptly. 
Writing to her when she was eleven years old, he 
said, 

" Yesterday I received your letter and journal to the 
13th inclusive. On the 13th you say you got nine 
pages in Lucian. It was, to be sure, a most surprising 
lesson. I suspect it must have been the second time 
going over, and even then it would have been great, 

and, at the same rate, you will be through a second 

26 



THEODOSIA BURR 

time before my month is up. I should be delighted to 
find it so. I have not told you directly that I should 
stay longer than a month but I was angry enough with 
you to stay three months when you neglected to write 
to me for two successive posts." 

" I beg, Miss Prissy," he wrote to her from Phila- 
delphia during the same year, " that you will name a 
single ' unsuccessful efforf which you have made to 
please me. As to the letters and journal which you 
did write, surely you have reason abundant to believe 
that they gave me pleasure ; and how the deuce I am 
to be pleased with those you did not write, and how an 
omission to write can be called an effort, remains for 
your ingenuity to disclose." 

In his next letter to her, he referred again to " the 
unsuccessful effort." 

" Your letter of the gth, my dear Theo, was a most 
agreeable surprise to me. I had not dared even to 
hope for one until to-morrow. In one instance, at 
least, an attempt to please me has not been 'unsuc- 
cessful.' You see, I do not forget that piece of impu- 
dence." 

He was mindful, too, of her health, and in one of 
his letters begged her to carry herself erect. He had 
himself a remarkably erect and graceful carriage, which 
lent a majesty to his bearing and gave the impression 
of much greater height than he possessed. 

While his letters to her were full of advice and sug- 
gestions for her improvement, they were by no means 
lacking in commendation. As she grew to woman- 

27 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

4 

hood this was more marked, as was also his tendency 
to confide in her. Her father's frequent and prolonged 
absences from home, her mother's long illness, attended 
with much suffering and terminating in death when 
Theodosia was but eleven years old, had necessitated 
an early assumption of those responsibilities which 
mature and strengthen character. To a suggestion 
contained in a letter written by her father shortly be- 
fore her mother's death, that he would leave Congress 
that he might have more time to devote to his wife, 
Theodosia replied with a quaintness that was character- 
istic of her : " Ma begs that you omit the thought of 
leaving Congress." 

From her close association with her mother under 
such circumstances her receptive mind became imbued 
with the beauties of the Christian philosophy, which 
her father, though a grandson of Jonathan Edwards 
and a son of the Rev. Aaron Burr, founder and first 
president of Princeton College, had not included in the 
course of studies so exactingly marked out for her. 
She was at this time studying Latin, Greek, French, 
and music, and learning to dance and to skate. 

After her mother's death, Burr, who had a profound 
admiration for the language, literature, and people of 
France, consigned her to a French governess. She 
acquired a complete mastery of that tongue, and the 
fluency with which she spoke it added much to the 
grace with which she presided over her father's home, 
for Burr frequently entertained Frenchmen. Louis 

Philippe, Jerome Bonaparte, Talleyrand, and Volney 

28 



THEODOSIA BURR 

were all at various times his guests at Richmond 
Hill. 

When Theodosia was fourteen she took her place 
at the head of her father's household and became his 
inseparable companion, her playful wit illuminating his 
hours of relaxation, her steadfast courage, her strength, 
her very presence, constituting his most powerful 
defence in the darkest hours of his life. 

She had much of her mother's self-poise and ele- 
gance of manner, together with her father's dignity and 
wit. When she reached maturity, though short in 
stature like her father's family, she carried herself with 
a noble dignity which, with a certain lofty benevolence 
of countenance, the refinement of her features, the 
frank intelligence of her brow, the healthful bloom of 
her complexion, made her singularly beautiful. So 
absolute was her father's confidence in her that he 
wrote when she was but seventeen, " Many are sur- 
prised that I could repose in you so great a trust as 
that of yourself, but I knew you were equal to it, and 
I am not deceived." 

He sent Brant, the Indian chief, to her from Phila- 
delphia with a letter of introduction, she was but four- 
teen at the time and mistress of Richmond Hill, where 
she entertained him with an ease which gave her father 
much gratification. She gave a dinner in his honor, 
inviting to meet him some of her father's friends, 
among them Volney, Bishop Moore, Dr. Bard, and Dr. 
Hosack. She was already a belle, with many admirers 
ever in her wake, when Edward Livingston, then mayor 

29 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of New York, taking her aboard a French frigate 
lying in the harbor of the city, thus warned her : " You 
must bring none of your sparks on board, Theodosia. 
We have a magazine here, and we shall all be blown 
up." 

Her life was full of happiness at this time, with 
Hamilton's wife and daughters among her friends, 
her father one of the Presidential possibilities, and 
she enjoying much of his society, accompanying him 
frequently to Albany on horseback and visiting in the 
neighborhood while he transacted his business at the 
capital. 

In February, 1801, a few months before she was 
eighteen, Theodosia was married to Joseph Alston, of 
South Carolina. He also was young, being but twenty- 
two, and wealthy, possessing extensive rice plantations, 
talented and ambitious, though as yet without a specific 
object on which to expend these qualities. He had 
studied law and been admitted to the bar, though he 
had not begun to practise. Upon Burr's suggestion he 
entered upon a political career, rising eventually to the 
governorship of his State. 

Theodosia argued for a deferment of the marriage, 
quoting Aristotle, that a man should not marry till he 
was thirty-six. With convincing eloquence and ardor, 
Alston replied, winning his suit, notwithstanding Aris- 
totle and other equally eminent authorities. 

On February 7, 1801, the New York Commercial 
Advertiser announced the marriage, which had taken 
place on the 2d, at Albany, where the Legislature, 

3 



THEODOSIA BURR 

of which Burr was then a member, was in session. It 
was a period of intense excitement throughout the 
country, and the names of Jefferson and Burr were in 
all mouths. The people of the country had cast a tie 
vote, which threw the election into the House of Rep- 
resentatives. Party spirit manifested itself for the first 
time in the young republic, and the strength of the 
constitution was early put to a severe test. 

Theodosia, on her way to her new home in the 
South, stopped in Washington, where, on the 4th of 
March, she saw her father inducted into the Vice- 
Presidency. 

Her marriage and her father's new honors inaugurated 
for her three years of absolute happiness. Though her 
husband's home and her father's were a journey of 
twenty days apart, she went frequently back and forth, 
and though she wrote to her husband during one of 
her early visits to her old home, " Where you are, 
there is my country, and in you are centred all my 
wishes," she was undoubtedly in better health and 
spirits when in her northern home. Her winters were 
passed in Charleston, where she was well received and 
much beloved, and where she became an important 
factor in her husband's political success. 

Her father missed her sadly. " For what else, for 
whom else, do I live ?" he had written to her shortly 
before her marriage. When she was no longer at 
Richmond Hill he returned there with painful reluc- 
tance. Theodosia urged him to marry again, and from 
the tone of a letter he wrote to her about this time 

31 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

there seems to have been some probability of his 
accepting her suggestion. If he were really in earnest, 
however, he at least did not conduct the affair with his 
usual sapiency, and though Theodosia from afar threw 
light on the young woman's vagaries, it was to no 
purpose. 

Theodosia's only child, a son, she named after her 
father, to whom he was a source of much pride and 
affection. To Burr the anniversaries of the day of 
Theodosia's birth were ever occasions for rejoicing. 
Her twenty-first birthday, though she was not with him, 
he celebrated with a dinner-party at Richmond Hill. 
He had her portrait placed in a chair at the table, but, 
as it was a profile and appeared unsociable, he had it 
hung up again. " We laughed an hour, danced an 
hour, and drank your health," he wrote to her. 

But already the days of her contentment were 
drawing to a close. Before this letter telling her of 
the happiness the day had given him had reached her, 
the tradegy of Weehawken had been enacted. Its 
shadow fell forever upon him who survived it, and who 
doubtless became a potent instrument in Hamilton's 
canonization. With awful blackness, too, it fell upon 
the far-away daughter when she heard that her father 
was a fugitive with an indictment for murder hanging 
over him. 

From that moment shadows gathered about her with 
ever-increasing sombreness till they culminated in that 
hour of darkness in which her life went out. 

In Burr's Mexican scheme, which he set on foot 

32 



THEODOSIA BURR 

shortly after the expiration of his term as Vice-Presi- 
dent, Theodosia became involved sentimentally, and 
her husband financially. The President's proclamation 
and Burr's arrest put an end to their visionary dynasty 
in Mexico. Instead of beholding him upon a throne, 
they saw him arraigned before the tribunal of justice at 
Richmond, on a charge of high treason, with Chief 
Justice Marshall the presiding judge, and John Ran- 
dolph of Roanoke foreman of the jury. Never, it 
has been said, did two more wonderful pairs of eyes 
than those of Marshall and Burr, black, brilliant, and 
penetrating, look into each other. 

In arraigning Burr, there was an element to be reck- 
oned with that is not ordinarily taken into considera- 
tion, the marvellous personality of the man. From 
his appearance, his manners, his voice, his eyes, ema- 
nated an influence not to be lightly estimated. In his 
bearing and presence he was peerless. He spoke with- 
out effort, in a full, crisp, rather than powerful, voice, 
clothing his thoughts in the language best suited to 
their most accurate expression, terse, epigrammatic and 
devoid of figures, his mobile features lending them- 
selves to the thought that was severe or scintillating, 
tender or impressive. With a woman's tact he com- 
bined an adroit intellect equal to any emergency. 

He conducted his own defence, supported by the 
best legal talent in the country. His son-in-law sat 
beside him every day in court, and Theodosia, the 
beautiful, noble Theodosia, with sublime faith in her 
father, inspired a confidence in him in other breasts. 

3 33 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

She appealed to the poetic fancy of Washington 
Irving, then a young barrister, who was sent from New 
York to report the trial for his brother's paper, and 
whose letters evince an unmistakable sympathy for 
Burr. Luther Martin, one of the foremost geniuses 
of the Maryland bar, defended him with an eloquence 
that rendered Martin himself an object of suspicion to 
Thomas Jefferson. 

" I find that Luther Martin's idolatrous admiration of 
Mrs. Alston," wrote Blennerhassett, " is almost as exces- 
sive as my own, but far more beneficial to his interests 
and injurious to his judgment, as it is the medium of his 
blind attachment to her father, whose secrets and views, 
past, present, and to come, he is and wishes to remain 
ignorant of. Nor can he see a speck in the character 
of Alston, for the best of all reasons with him, namely, 
that Alston has such a wife." 

Though Burr was acquitted, there was an element of 
hostility to him in the government, and much distrust 
of him among the people of the country at large. In 
the following year, therefore, he went to Europe. 
Theodosia had gone to New York to be near him. 
He saw her for the last time on June 7, 1808, the 
night before he sailed. She spent that summer at 
Saratoga, and the following winter in New York, 
where she lived in retirement. 

" The world," she said, in one of her letters to her 
father about this time, " begins to cool terribly around 
me. You would be surprised how many I supposed 
attached to me have abandoned the sorry losing game 

34 



THEODOSIA BURR 

of disinterested friendship." She repeatedly urged him 
to return, promising him that if the worst came to the 
worst, she would leave everything and suffer with him. 

A few months after Madison's elevation to the Presi- 
dency she wrote to Mrs. Madison, whom her father 
had known when she was a young widow, and to 
whom he had introduced Mr. Madison. " Ever since 
the choice of the people was first declared in favor of 
Mr. Madison, my heart, amid the universal joy, has 
beat with the hope that I, too, should soon have reason to 
rejoice," she wrote. She desired to know if there was 
danger of any further prosecution of her father in the 
event of his return. For the same purpose she wrote 
two years later from the Oaks, her South Carolina 
home, to Albert Gallatin, then Secretary of the Treas- 
ury, and once a friend of her father's. The letter was 
calmly logical, yet eloquent with feeling. 

In another year Burr was within sight of his home 
and country. As he neared her shores he wrote in his 
journal, " A pilot is in sight and within two miles of 
us. All is bustle and joy except Gamp [the name by 
which his little grandson called him] . Why should he 
rejoice ?" 

Of all the misfortunes of his life, the heaviest were 
to fall upon him that year. A month after her father's 
arrival in New York, and while her heart was yet re- 
joicing that he had been kindly received, the young 
life of Theodosia's son, full of beauty and promise, 
closed. " I will not conceal from you," wrote Alston 
to his father-in-law, " that life is a burden, which, heavy 

35 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

as it is, we shall support, if not with dignity, at least 
with decency and firmness. Theodosia has endured all 
that a human being could endure, but her admirable 
mind will triumph. She supports herself in a manner 
worthy of your daughter." 

Theodosia longed to see her father. We were at 
war with England at the time, and her husband, gov- 
ernor of his State and general of militia, could not 
leave his post of duty to accompany her to New York. 
Her health was so feeble that she could not safely 
attempt the journey alone. Her father's old friend 
Timothy Green offered his services, going from New 
York to bring her north. Under his care, and accom- 
panied by her maid, Theodosia sailed from. Charleston 
on the "Pilot" on the 3Oth of December, 1812. Save 
by her fellow passengers on the ill-fated vessel, she was 
never seen or heard of again. A violent storm swept 
the coast on the following day, and it has been sup- 
posed that the " Pilot," with all on board, went down 
off Cape Hatteras. After weeks and months of de- 
spairing silence, father and husband gave her up. Burr 
during this period of torturing suspense acquired a 
habit which clung to him to the end of his life, of 
wistfully scanning the horizon for ships as he walked 
on the battery, then the popular resort of all New 
Yorkers. 

Two or three years after she had gone from their 
lives, her husband sent a chest of her belongings, which 
he had not had the courage to open, to her father. 
" What a fate, poor thing !" sighed Burr, as he recog- 

36 



THEODOSIA BURR 

nized the familiar articles. Among the contents was a 
letter addressed, "To my husband. To be delivered 
after my death and before my burial." It was dated 
August 6, 1805, and had been written during an ab- 
sence of her husband from home, at a time when, 
being depressed in health and spirits, she feared that 
death was approaching. After leaving some remem- 
brance to the various members of her husband's family, 
and begging her husband to provide for Peggy, an old 
servant, she says, 

" Death is not welcome. I confess it is ever dreaded. 
You have made me too fond of life. Adieu then, 
thou kind, thou tender husband. Adieu, friend of my 
heart. May Heaven prosper you, and may we meet 
hereafter. Adieu ; perhaps we may never see each 
other again in this world. You are away, I wished to 
hold you fast, and prevent you from going this morn- 
ing. But He who is wisdom itself ordains events ; we 
must submit to them. Least of all should I murmur, 
I, on whom so many blessings have been showered, 
whose days have been numbered by bounties, who have 
had such a husband, such a child, such a father. Oh, 
pardon me, my God, if I regret leaving these. I resign 
myself. Adieu once more, and for the last time, my 
beloved. Speak of me often to our son. Let him 
love the memory of his mother, and let him know how 
he was loved by her. 

" Your wife, your fond wife, 

" THEO. 

37 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

" Let my father see my son sometimes. Do not be 
unkind towards him whom I have loved so much, I 
beseech you. Burn all my papers except my father's 
letters, which I beg you to return to him. Adieu, my 
sweet boy. Love your father, be grateful and affec- 
tionate to him while he lives, be the pride of his 
meridian, the support of his departing days. Be all 
that he wishes, for he made your mother happy." 

After expressing a wish that she may not he stripped 
and washed according to the usual custom, being pure 
enough to return to dust, she concludes : " If it does 
not appear contradictory or silly, I beg to be kept as 
long as possible before I am consigned to the earth." 

Alston, who survived her but four years, wrote heart- 
brokenly to her father : " My boy, my wife, gone 
both ! This, then, is the end of all the hopes we had 
formed. You may well observe that you feel severed 
from the human race. She was the last tie that bound 
us to the species. What have we left ? Yet, after all, 
he is a poor actor who cannot sustain his hour upon 
the stage, be his part what it may. But the man who 
has been deemed worthy of the heart of Theodosia 
Burr, and who has felt what it was to be blessed with 
such a woman's love, will never forget his elevation." 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

(MADAME JEROME BONAPARTE) 

THE city into which Baltimore Town was legis- 
lated on the last day of the year 1796 already 
fostered within its limits the germ of the dual 
life, social and commercial, to which it has owed its 
subsequent eminence. Not infrequently, in the days 
of its inception, the same roof sheltered drawing-room 
and warehouse, the earlier merchants deeming it neces- 
sary to keep their growing interests constantly beneath 
their personal vigilance. Later, the commercial life 
crowded out the domestic life, and merchants built 
their dwellings stately bricks or frames, painted blue, 
yellow, or white, facing on avenues of locust-trees in 
another part of the town, all bearing quaint evidence 
of the far-away ports with which their vessels traded, 
while the whole town was permeated with the odor 
peculiar to shipping districts. 

The first theatre troupe that took the town by storm 
played in one of the old warehouses, whose walls re- 
echoed the approbation of the pleasure-hungry audi- 
ence, among whom were no fastidious critics to pick 
flaws in " King Richard III.," and still less in " A Miss 
in her Teens," which followed. 

39 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Baltimore never had the qualms of conscience which 
afflicted some of her puritanical sister towns concern- 
ing the pleasures in which she might rightly indulge. 
She looked out upon life, rather, with a liberality of 
mental vision which partook of the breadth of the seas 
her merchantmen traversed. 

The brick theatre built in 1781 became one of the 
most revered spots in the town, and when the actors 
came her way, Baltimore turned out en masse to give 
them royal welcome. 

At the close of the Revolutionary War a number of 
the French officers of the army and navy who had re- 
mained in this country settled in Baltimore, thereby 
adding a foreign flavor to the social side of its existence, 
which, like that of all the cities and towns of the young 
Republic, was characterized more or less by a whole- 
some simplicity. 

In the town, a dozen years before it blossomed into the 
city, before its streets were paved, when its only commu- 
nication with inland towns was by means of the stage- 
coach, and three years before Maryland had ratified the 
Constitution of the new union of States, there was born 
to one of her merchants, William Patterson, a daughter, 
the repute of whose beauty was destined to fill two con- 
tinents, the spicy aroma of whose wit to penetrate the 
sacred precincts of imperial throne-rooms, and the 
story of whose life to touch the hearts of many gener- 
ations. 

The daughter of one of the self-made men whose 

sterling qualities have lent such stability to the indus- 

40 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

tries and development of the country, who, born of 
Irish parentage and coming to this country in his four- 
teenth year, had carved his own way shrewdly and 
judiciously to the position of distinction he held 
among his fellow-townsmen and the people of his 
adopted country, Elizabeth inherited many of his 
dominant characteristics. He was estimated to be the 
wealthiest merchant, and, with the possible exception 
of Charles Carroll, the wealthiest man, in the United 
States. Her mother, Dorcas Spear, came of good 
Maryland lineage, and was a woman of gentle charac- 
ter and cultivated mind. She superintended for the 
most part Elizabeth's education, which, if somewhat 
erratic, was, nevertheless, superior to that enjoyed by 
the average woman of that period. It is said that she 
acquired an early familiarity with Rochefoucauld's 
" Maxims" and committed to memory Young's " Night 
Thoughts." Lady Morgan, whose friendship she 
formed later in life, realizing the brilliancy of her 
mind, regretted that its earlier direction had not been 
more systematic. 

Her father, from his own statement, seems to have 
looked after the conduct of his family with the same 
minute vigilance which he bestowed upon his financial 
concerns. 

" I always consider it a duty to my family," he said, 
** to keep them as much as possible under my own eye, 
so that I have seldom in my life left Baltimore either 
on pleasure or business. Ever since I had a house it 
has been my invariable rule to be the last up at night, 

41 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

and to see that the fires and light were secured before I 
retired myself, by which I found little risk from fires 
and managed to have my family keep regular hours. 
What I possess is solely the product of my own labor. 
I inherited nothing of my forefathers, nor have I bene- 
fited anything from public favors or appointments." 

Strangely similar is the concluding sentiment to that 
expressed by the founder of another family on another 
continent, Napoleon Bonaparte. " Sole fabricator of 
my destiny, I owe nothing to my brothers," said he, 
whose fortunes, though he had reared them upon a 
loftier pinnacle, were, nevertheless, to be crossed by 
those of the Patterson family. 

The eldest daughter in a family of thirteen chil- 
dren, Elizabeth Patterson grew up at a period when the 
beaux of society read Chesterfield, when no man be- 
grudged the time expended on the profound and sweep- 
ing bow then dictated by gallantry, and when fencing 
and dancing formed a part of every gentleman's educa- 
tion. 

" She possessed the pure Grecian contour ; her head 
was exquisitely formed, her forehead fair and shapely, 
her eyes large and dark, with an expression of tender- 
ness that did not belong to her character ; and the deli- 
cate loveliness of her mouth and chin, the soft bloom 
of her complexion, together with her beautifully 
rounded shoulders and tapering arms, combined to form 
one of the loveliest of women." She had had numer- 
ous offers of marriage before she reached her eighteenth 

year, her father's wealth and prominence, independent 

42 




Elizabeth Patterson 

(Madame Jerome Bonaparte) 

From portrait by Quingon 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

of her own attractive personality, having insured her 
social prestige, but as yet she walked heart whole and 
fancy free. 

In the summer of 1803 Jerome, the youngest brother 
of Napoleon Bonaparte, and then less than nineteen 
years of age, detaching himself from naval duty in the 
West Indies and following the bent of his own incli- 
nation, eventually put into the port of New York. 
Whatever breach of military discipline this implies will 
in no way astound those familiar with Jerome's char- 
acter. 

Too young to have taken part in the struggles that 
had elevated his family to such dizzy heights, he yet, 
at an age most susceptible to the altered conditions of 
his life, came into the full enjoyment of all the advan- 
tages they offered. Napoleon was wont to take a 
humorous rather than a serious view of this " mauvais 
3ujet" as he frequently called Jerome. Madame Junot 
relates a characteristic anecdote in her memoirs which, 
she says, she had from the Emperor himself. Re- 
turning to Paris after the battle of Marengo, Napoleon 
was presented with various bills contracted by Jerome 
during his absence. One of these, to the amount 
of twenty thousand francs, was for a superb shaving 
set in gold, mother of pearl, silver, ivory, and costly 
enamels. It was a work of art, but of no possible 
use to Jerome, who, being but fifteen years old, was 
without the suggestion of a beard. 

To his mother he was an idol, and to the end of her 
life he was able to extract from her in generous measure 

43 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

much of that substance which she expended grudgingly 
even upon herself. 

Enveloped in the glory of a great name, Jerome's 
advent into the social current of New York was noised 
abroad in the few and ordinarily but little-read news- 
papers of the day. 

By stage the news was brought to Baltimore. The 
returning coach took an urgent invitation to Jerome 
and his suite to visit that city from Commodore Barney, 
who had been his recent comrade-in-arms in the West 
Indies. They accepted the invitation, and early in Sep- 
tember found themselves the objects of a lavish hospi- 
tality. 

Shortly after their arrival one of Jerome's suite, Gen- 
eral Rewbell, lost his heart to Miss Henrietta Pascault, 
one of the belles of the town, to whom he was, after a 
brief courtship, married. 

At the fall races, which were in progress when he 
arrived in Baltimore, Jerome for the first time saw the 
woman in whose life he was thereafter destined to play 
so conspicuous a part. We may well believe that she 
was radiantly beautiful in a gown of buff silk with a 
lace fichu and a leghorn hat with tulle trimmings and 
black plumes. 

He had already heard of the beautiful Miss Patter- 
son, and had declared with youthful impetuosity that 
he would marry her. The fact that she was aware of 
his preconceived sentiments gave a piquancy to their 
first meeting, which was enhanced by the boyish en- 
thusiasm with which he referred to her as his "belle 

44 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

femme." The coquetry with which she resisted his too 
evident admiration had the invariable effect of further 
ensnaring his princely affections. 

They met frequently in those centres of hospitality, 
the home of Samuel Chase, who twenty-odd years 
before had put his name to the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence ; at " Belvedere," the home of Colonel John 
Eager Howard, the hero of Cowpens ; at " Greenmount," 
" Druid Hill," and " Brooklandwood," where three other 
afterwards celebrated beauties were in course of develop- 
ment. 

When the festivities in honor of Jerome were at 
their height, Elizabeth was borne away to the seclusion 
of a Virginia estate, under the wing of a vigilant 
mother, who rightly interpreted the course of events 
and foresaw the obstacles that loomed in the pathway 
of their happy termination. There only an occasional 
echo of the gayety that was rife at Baltimore reached 
her, making unbearable that rural quiet, which means 
happiness only to a contented mind, and is a veritable 
torture to such a restless spirit as ever possessed Eliza- 
beth Patterson. Her entreaties at length prevailed, and 
she was brought back to the city, where, on the igth 
of October, to prove how futile the separation had 
been, scarcely eight weeks after their first meeting, Je- 
rome procured a license of marriage. 

He was probably remonstrated with by the members 
of his suite, whose age and the length of whose friend- 
ship made possible that liberty. Rewbell, in the first 
flush of his own happy union doubtless gave Jerome 

45 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

a reckless support that not even the crafty Le Camus 
could counterbalance. To such opposition as Eliza- 
beth's family offered, she replied that she " would rather 
be the wife of Jerome for one hour than of any other 
man for a lifetime." 

On Christmas Eve, 1803, Jerome Bonaparte, brother 
of the man who five months later declared himself 
Emperor of France, and Elizabeth Patterson, daughter 
of an American merchant, entered into that union 
whose subsequent rending was to echo throughout 
Christendom. The ceremony was performed in the 
home of Elizabeth's father, according to the rites of 
the Catholic Church, by the Right Reverend John 
Carroll, first archbishop of America. It was witnessed 
by the French Consul at Baltimore, M. Sotin, Alex- 
ander le Camus, who was Jerome's secretary, and the 
mayor of Baltimore. 

The marriage contract, which was drawn up by 
Alexander J. Dallas, afterwards Secretary of the 
Treasury, bears evidence of the apprehension felt by 
Elizabeth's family as to the outcome of this inter- 
national union with so youthful a bridegroom. 

The dress worn by Elizabeth on her bridal night 
was of exquisitely fine white muslin, elaborately em- 
broidered. She said of the gown in after years that it 
was one she had frequently worn, as she particularly 
desired to avoid anything like vulgar display. " And 
to tell the truth," she added, " there was as little as pos- 
sible of any gown at all, dress in that day being chiefly 
an aid in setting off beauty to advantage," which con- 

4 6 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

curs with the statement made by a man who was 
present at the wedding, to the effect that he could have 
put all the clothes worn by the bride into his pocket. 

The honeymoon days of Jerome and Elizabeth were 
passed at her father's estate outside of Baltimore, 
"Homestead." Late in January they were mingling 
with the merrymakers one afternoon in Market Street. 
There was good sleighing, and the crisp air rang with 
the joyousness of an old-time winter. A snowball, 
sent with the unerring aim and democratic disregard of 
a small boy of the town, struck Elizabeth. Jerome 
was outraged at the indignity, and offered a reward of 
five hundred dollars for the discovery of the youthful 
miscreant. How trivial seems this " missile light as air" 
by comparison with those shafts sped later by a not less 
unerring hand, and striking into the very soul of her 
womanhood, Jerome making no effort to avert them. 

In February this bride and groom of the early cen- 
tury went to Washington, whither since have wended 
their way so many happy bridal couples. Of the jour- 
ney there, made in a stage-coach, General Samuel Smith, 
member of Congress from Maryland, wrote to Mr. Wil- 
liam Patterson describing the runaway of the horses as 
they entered the city and Betsy's presence of mind. 
The driver having been thrown from his seat, Jerome 
sprang from the coach with the hope of catching the 
horses. But as they still sped on, and her danger in- 
creased as they penetrated towards the centre of the 
straggling little capital, Elizabeth opened the door and 
jumped out into the snow without injury. 

47 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

While in Washington they were the guests of the 
French Minister, General Tureau. Aaron Burr, then 
Vice-President of the United States, meeting Elizabeth 
at this time, wrote to his daughter Theodosia, whom he 
thought Elizabeth much resembled, and referred to her 
as "a charming little woman with sense, spirit, and 
sprightliness." 

Jerome's thoughts were already turning towards 
France, where every effort was being made to bring 
about his return alone. While in New York during 
the following summer he was made acquainted with the 
annulment of his marriage, as follows : " By an Act of 
the 1 1 Ventose, all the civil officers of the Empire 
are prohibited from receiving on their registers the 
transcription of the act of celebration of a pretended 
marriage that Jerome Bonaparte has contracted in a 
foreign country during the age of minority, without the 
consent of his mother and without the publication in 
the place of his nativity." 

In February following the marriage Mr. William 
Patterson had written to our Minister at Paris, Robert 
Livingston, enclosing him letters from the President 
and Secretary of State, to be presented to Napoleon 
with the hope of obtaining his approval, or at least 
mitigating any displeasure the marriage might have 
caused. " I can assure you," he wrote to Livingston, 
" that I never directly or indirectly countenanced or 
gave Air. Bonaparte the smallest encouragement to 
address my daughter, but, on the contrary, resisted his 

pretensions by every means in my power consistent 

4 8 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

with discretion. Finding, however, that the mutual 
attachment they had formed for each other was such that 
nothing short of force or violence could prevent their 
union, I with much reluctance consented to their wishes." 

He had, moreover, despatched his eldest son, Robert 
Patterson, to Paris, to discover which way the wind of 
the imperial temper blew. As the matter lay rather 
outside the pale of usual diplomatic issues, it required 
most delicate manipulation, and while young Patterson 
received kindly yet cautious expressions of interest and 
good-will from Napoleon's brothers, an ominous and 
forbidding silence enveloped the First Consul. His 
indignation increased with Jerome's continued absence, 
and when at length he spoke through his Minister of 
Marine, it was to bid Jerome, as lieutenant of the fleet, 
to return to France, at the same time forbidding all 
captains of French vessels to receive on board "the 
young person to whom Jerome had attached himself." 
Through the same channel Napoleon offered his for- 
giveness to Jerome on condition that he abandon Eliza- 
beth and return to France, there to associate himself 
with his fortunes. Should he persist in bringing her, 
she would not be allowed to put foot on French terri- 
tory. Jerome's mother wrote to him at the same time, 
suggesting that he return to France alone and send his 
wife to Holland. Robert Patterson, however, who suc- 
ceeded admirably in keeping himself posted on the varia- 
tions in the attitude of Jerome's family, advised that 
Jerome should not return to France without his wife. 

Though he made several efforts during the year that 

4 49 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

followed to return thither, there is only one on record 
when it was his purpose to sail alone. 

In September, 1804, General Armstrong sailed from 
New York to replace Livingston at Paris. He had 
agreed with Jerome to take Madame Bonaparte with 
him, Jerome himself intending to go on one of the 
French frigates then in New York harbor. She could 
thus, at least, have landed in France as a member of 
the family of the American minister, who might have 
succeeded in presenting her to Napoleon, with whom 
she could, no doubt, have pleaded her cause with more 
effect than could have been produced by any amount 
of diplomatic correspondence or family intervention. 
She had the gifts which he most admired in women, 
great personal beauty and wit, and though the latter 
might have been too keen for his entire appreciation, 
she no doubt would have been shrewd enough to tem- 
per it to his taste. 

She wrote her father from New York, September 5, 
1804, of her disappointment at Armstrong's having 
sailed without her. The reason given was that Jerome 
and Elizabeth had arrived by stage a few hours after 
fhe ship had sailed. 

An effort to sail during the following month ended 
in shipwreck off Pilot Town, where they were finally 
landed and temporarily housed by one of the inhabi- 
tants, on whose clothes-line Madame Bonaparte dried 
her wardrobe, and from whose hospitable board she 
enjoyed a dinner of roast goose with apple-sauce, being 
in exuberant spirits over her rescue. 

5 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

On March 1 1, 1805, they finally made their departure 
from Baltimore in the " Erin," a ship belonging to Mr. 
Patterson. Though they sailed at an early hour in the 
morning, and the arrangements for their departure had 
been conducted with much secrecy, General Tureau 
wrote from Washington two days later to Mr. Patter- 
son to ask what disposition had been made of Jerome's 
four carriage-horses, and to suggest, if they were to be 
sold, that he should like to be considered as a pur- 
chaser. 

The " Erin" reached Lisbon on April 2, whence Je- 
rome wrote in English to his father-in-law of their safe 
arrival, and took the opportunity to express his affection 
for and gratitude towards his second family. He spoke 
of Elizabeth having been very sea-sick, and added, 

" But you know as well as any body that sea-sick 
never has killed nobody." 

Napoleon's ambassador met the ship upon its arrival, 
and called upon Elizabeth to ask what he could do for 
her, addressing her as Miss Patterson. 

" Tell your master," she replied, " that Madame 
Bonaparte is ambitious, and demands her rights as a 
member of the Imperial family." 

She was forbidden to land, and Jerome, taking that 
farewell of her which fate had destined should be his 
last, went overland to Paris, while the " Erin" sailed for 
Amsterdam. 

On his way to Paris Jerome met General and 
Madame Junot en route for their new post in Spain. 
He breakfasted with them and opened his anxious 

51 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

young heart to them, showing them a miniature of 
Elizabeth, from whom, he declared, nothing should ever 
separate him. 

Upon reaching Paris he went at once to Malmaison 
and sought an audience with Napoleon, who refused to 
see him, bidding him write what he wished to say. He 
wrote, simply announcing his arrival, and received the 
following reply : 

" I have received your letter this morning. There 
are no faults you have committed which may not be 
effaced in my eyes by a sincere repentance. Your 
marriage is null and void, both from a religious and 
a legal point of view. I will never acknowledge it. 
Write Miss Patterson to return to the United States, 
and tell her it is not possible to give things another 
turn. On condition of her return to America, I will 
allow her a pension of sixty thousand francs a year, 
provided she does not take the name of my family, to 
which she has no right, her marriage having no exist- 
ence." 

From this position Napoleon never swerved. The 
annuity was paid to Elizabeth after her return to 
America until the fall of the Empire, and formed the 
basis of the fortune of one and a half million dol- 
lars, accumulated through a long life of frugality and 
cautious investment, of which she died possessed. 

The reply of Pope Pius, to whom Napoleon ap- 
pealed for the annulment of the marriage, accompany- 
ing his request with a costly gold tiara, to the effect 
that after mature deliberation he had been able to dis- 

52 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

cover no grounds on which the marriage could be can- 
celled, though it chagrined the Emperor to an extent 
which he never forgave, did not yet alter the stand 
he had taken. When Jerome was finally admitted to 
his presence, he greeted him with that magnetic smile 
whose potency swayed men and women alike. 

" So, sir, you are the first of the family," he said, 
" who has shamefully abandoned his post. It will re- 
quire many splendid actions to wipe off that stain from 
your reputation. As to your love-affair with your little 
girl, I pay no attention to it." 

The " Erin," meanwhile, arrived in the Texel Roads, 
where, though flying the flag of a friendly power, and a 
merchant vessel whose clearance from Baltimore showed 
that she carried no guns, she was placed under guard 
of two French men-of-war and all communication with 
the shore prohibited. Through the intercession of 
Sylvanus Bourne, our Consul at Amsterdam, she was 
permitted at the expiration of a week to depart, and, 
bearing her full measure of human desolation, she 
headed towards the shores of England. The fame of 
her fair passenger had preceded her, and so large a con- 
course of people had gathered at Dover to witness the 
landing of Madame Jerome Bonaparte that Mr. Pitt, 
then Prime Minister of England, sent a military escort 
to protect her from possible annoyance of a sympa- 
thetic though curious throng. 

At Camberwell, near London, her son was born on 
the yth of July, 1805, and named Jerome Napoleon. 

In June of that year, two months after his return, 

S3 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Jerome had been restored to his rank in the navy and 
was cruising off Genoa, whence he wrote, through his 
secretary, Alexander le Camus, to Mr. William Pat- 
terson, of Baltimore, expressing his dissatisfaction at 
Elizabeth's having gone to England, that country being 
at the time at war with France. The tone of the letter 
betrays the change that was already working in Jerome's 
feelings, though he was at that time sending Elizabeth 
by every available opportunity messages and pledges 
of his unswerving love for her. 

When we judge him, let us bear in mind not only 
his youth and all the circumstances of his life, but, 
above all, that soul-crushing will which he, weakly 
enough it seems to us, was striving to stand against. 

In a subsequent letter to Mr. Patterson, written also 
by Mr. le Camus, in the course of which Jerome ex- 
pressed the desire that Elizabeth should return to 
America and wait there in her own home till he ob- 
tained her recall from the Emperor, one feels instinc- 
tively that between the lines is written the finale to the 
short chapter of the romance of Elizabeth Patterson 
and Jerome Bonaparte. 

She returned to her father's home in the fall, though 
she had written shortly before that she was glad to be 
among strangers, because " in Baltimore, where people 
are always on the watch," she would be more observed. 

On August 12, 1807, Jerome married Princess 
Frederika Catherine, daughter of the King of Wurtem- 
berg. As King of Westphalia he offered Elizabeth a 
home within his dominions, with the title of Princess 

54 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

of Smalcalden and a pension of two hundred thou- 
sand francs per year. In regard to the former, she re- 
plied that Westphalia was a large kingdom, but not 
quite large enough for two queens, and with regard to 
the pension, having already accepted Napoleon's an- 
nuity of sixty thousand francs, she made the oft-quoted 
response that she preferred " being sheltered under the 
wing of an eagle to being suspended from the bill of a 
goose." 

Napoleon, with his high appreciation of a bon mot, 
desired to know what favor he could bestow upon a 
woman capable of this witticism. Elizabeth replied 
through the French Minister at Washington that she 
was ambitious, and would like to be a duchess. 

The Emperor promised the gift, but never conferred 
it. Notwithstanding her unremitting yet ever futile 
struggle for recognition, Madame Bonaparte cherished 
always the most enthusiastic admiration for the genius 
of the man who had blighted her life. In one of her 
letters to her father, written from Europe, whither she 
returned after the fall of the Empire, she said, " They 
do not in England pretend to revile Napoleon as we 
have done. His stupendous abilities are admitted ; his 
misfortunes almost respected by his enemies. I listen 
silently to any discussion in which he bears a part. I 
easily perceive that he has more justice done him here 
than with us." 

In a subsequent letter she details more fully her atti- 
tude towards the entire family. 

" I cannot say," she writes, also to her father, " that 

55 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

I have the least reliance on that family, although I am 
inclined to reciprocate their kind words and receive their 
offers of friendship without allowing myself to be de- 
ceived by either." And farther on in the same letter 
she says, in regard to allowing her son to visit Pauline 
Bonaparte, then the Princess Borghese, at Rome, " My 
resolution is uninfluenced by personal feelings, never 
having felt the least resentment towards any individual 
of that family, who certainly injured me, but not from 
motives which could offend me. I was sacrificed to 
political considerations, not to the gratification of bad 
feelings, and under the pressure of insupportable dis- 
appointment became not unjust." 

From her letters there seem to have been frequent 
rumors afloat in regard to her marrying again, both in 
this country and in Europe, where she was greatly ad- 
mired. In one letter to her father, written in 1823, she 
says that while the American newspapers were marry- 
ing her she was making her will. 

Though she obtained from the Maryland Legislature 
a divorce, after the fall of Napoleon, it seems to have 
been rather as a precautionary measure against any pos- 
sible demands Jerome might make upon her financially 
than with a view to marrying again. 

Tom Moore, whom Lady Morgan sent to her with 
a letter of introduction, afterwards described her as a 
beautiful woman, but destitute of all sentiment and 
with a total disbelief in love, on which, indeed, she be- 
stowed only ridicule. There can be no doubt, however, 
of the concern and tenderness which she expended upon 

56 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

a dog, Le Loup, which belonged to her son, and which 
she said was " superior to half the persons one meets in 
the world." There are many traditions of her wit, 
which, though tinged with asperity, was ever ready and 
scintillating. The Honorable Mr. Dundas, who sat 
beside her at a dinner in London, she speared so un- 
sparingly with the shafts of her sarcasm that his egotism 
never forgave her. When he asked her, finally, if she 
had read Captain Basil Hall's book on America, she 
replied affirmatively. "And did you observe," he 
continued, bluntly, with the hope of avenging his 
wounded self-love, " that he called all Americans vul- 
garians ?" "Yes," replied Madame Bonaparte, while 
the table paused to listen, " and I was not surprised. 
Were the Americans descendants of the Indians and 
Esquimaux, I should have been. But being the direct 
descendants of the English, nothing is more natural 
than that they should be vulgarians." For both her wit 
and her beauty she was admired by men and women 
of fastidious taste, among whom were Sir Charles and 
Lady Morgan, Talleyrand, GortschakofT, and Madame 
de Stael. She so fascinated the Prince of Wurtem- 
berg, uncle of Jerome's second wife, that he confessed 
his wonderment that Jerome could ever have aban- 
doned her. " Si elle n'est pas reine de Westphalie, elle 
est au moins reine des cceurs," was Baron Bonsteller's 
tribute to her. 

She seldom alluded to Jerome, though she believed 
that she always stood first in his heart. She referred in 
a letter to her father to the probability of his coming 

57 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

to Rome while she was there, but added that she 
should not see him, " nor would he like it himself after 
the unhandsome way in which he has always conducted 
himself. I shall hold my tongue, which is all I can 
possibly do for him." 

Though the greater part of her life was spent in 
Europe, and she was for a time on terms of consider- 
able intimacy with his family, she met Jerome but 
once, when they passed each other in the gallery of 
the Pitti Palace in Florence, Jerome with the Princess 
Catherine upon his arm. Though they recognized 
each other, they passed without greeting, Jerome ex- 
claiming, " That was my American wife." Jerome 
Napoleon, the son of his American wife, was frequently 
his guest, and was treated with much kindness by the 
Princess Catherine. Jerome, however, added practi- 
cally nothing to this son's material comfort, much to 
his mother's chagrin, and at his death in 1860 it was 
found that he had not even mentioned his name in his 
will, a lack of recognition which wounded both mother 
and son in a more profound sense than his lifelong 
failure to make provision for him had done. So great 
was his son's resemblance to his family, and par- 
ticularly to the Emperor, that the charge d'affaires of 
France at Amsterdam, in 1820, refused his mother a 
passport for him to travel through France. It was a 
strange coincidence that Madame Jerome Bonaparte 
herself should bear a remarkable resemblance to the 
Bonaparte family, particularly to Napoleon and Pau- 
line, even having some of their mannerisms. 

58 



ELIZABETH PATTERSON 

In August, 1855, Louis Napoleon offered to create 
Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Duke of Sartene, but he 
declined the honor, as the object was to take away his 
name and the rights he possessed as his father's eldest 
son. 

At the request of his half-brother a family council 
was called, before which the celebrated Berry er pleaded 
the cause of Madame Jerome Bonaparte and her son, 
whose rights were ultimately defined as limited exclu- 
sively to the use of the name. 

On November 3, 1829, Jerome Napoleon Bona- 
parte, to his mother's intense dissatisfaction and dis- 
appointment, married an American, the lovely Miss 
Susan Mary Williams, of Baltimore. During a long 
residence abroad Madame Bonaparte had become im- 
bued with the idea that it was a duty her son owed 
both to her and to himself to ally himself matrimonially 
with some European family of distinction. Writing 
to her father from Florence, where she was residing at 
the time of her son's marriage, she said, " I would 
rather die than marry any one in Baltimore, but if my 
son does not feel as I do upon this subject, of course 
he is quite at liberty to act as he likes best." 

Her father died in 1835. He had never been in 
sympathy with her desire to live in a foreign country, 
and had frequently upbraided her for her prolonged 
absence from home. In his will he denounced her as 
an undutiful daughter, bequeathing her a few small 
houses besides the home in which she was born, on the 
.. east side of South Street, with the lot surrounding it. 

59 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

In April, 1879, Madame Bonaparte, who was then 
in her ninety-fifth year, having outlived her son and 
all of her own generation, passed from the sphere 
where she had been so conspicuous a figure. She died 
in a boarding-house in her native city, where she had 
acquired the reputation of being a keen, eccentric old 
woman. The sorrows of her youth, belonging to the 
early days of the country, were too remote to be re- 
membered by her later-day contemporaries, who dis- 
covered in her no trace of the bewitching Elizabeth 
Patterson who had taken by storm the heart of the 
youthful Prince Jerome. 

She rests to-day in Greenmount Cemetery, Balti- 
more, in a small triangular lot which she selected 
shortly before her death, saying that as she had been 
alone in life, so she wished to be in death. On her 
monument are graven the words that express so much 
for her, " After life's fitful fever she sleeps well." 



60 



THE CATON SISTERS 



AMONG the belles of the early century loom the 
forms of those gracious women whose names 
are interwoven with those of the most historic 
figures of their age, the Caton sisters of Baltimore. 
Granddaughters of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one 
of the most illustrious Americans of the period, they 
became through marriage identified with the most dis- 
tinguished families in England. 

In 1787 Richard Caton, an Englishman who had 
settled in Baltimore two years before, and engaged in 
the manufacture of cotton goods, succeeded in winning 
the fair hand of Mary Carroll. Rumor said that it had 
been already partially plighted to her cousin John Car, 
roll of Duddington Manor. Cousin " Longlegs," how- 
ever, as Kitty, her irreverent younger sister, called him- 
was in Europe at the time with her brother Charles, 
and in those days of slow travel Mary had probably 
capitulated to the young Briton before John even knew 
that he had a rival. 

Her father, who was reputed the wealthiest man in 
America, and who provided liberally both for his chil- 
dren and grandchildren, settled upon Mary at the time 

61 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of her marriage to Richard Caton, the beautiful estate 
of "Brookland Wood," in the centre of the suburb 
which has since sprung up and been named for them, 
Catonsville. Their four daughters were born there and 
grew up to beautiful womanhood, Mary, Elizabeth, 
Louisa, and Emily. They derived every grace of mind 
and body from a cultivated and accomplished mother 
who had been educated abroad, and who, accompany- 
ing her father to Philadelphia when Congress met there, 
had known the best there was of social life in America. 
Closely associated, moreover, from their infancy with 
their grandfather, a most courtly gentleman, who ever 
beheld in woman an object worthy of his most chival- 
rous devotion, they bore every evidence of that innate 
refinement which created distinction for them in Eng- 
land as the " American Graces." 

The life at that time surrounding such men as 
Carroll was idyllic. Honored by his countrymen, 
blessed with the wealth giving him every material com- 
fort and luxury, owning his town house, his estate of 
Doughoregan, and his plantation the famous Carrollton, 
sought out by the most distinguished men and women 
at home and from abroad, to say nothing of the myriad 
resources which such a man as Carroll possessed within 
himself, he already saw his family the third genera- 
tion born in America well established, with the roof- 
trees of his son and daughters close by his own. His 
granddaughters were much with him, and though they 
were the belles of Baltimore town from their earliest 
girlhood, a very delightful phase of their life was that 

62 



THE CATON SISTERS 

portion of it spent on their own and their grandfather's 
estates. There is frequent mention both in the journal 
and letters of Charles Carroll of visits from them and 
also of that princely hospitality that is ever associated 
with the names of many of the old Maryland estates. 

In one letter he alludes to a ball to be given by Cap- 
tain Charles Ridgley of " Hampton," for which three 
hundred invitations were out, and to which Mary, 
Betsy, and Louisa were all going. In another he men- 
tions a ball given by Louisa, who was entertaining the 
Misses Pinkney at his place at Annapolis. 

Many a belle in those days went to balls on horse- 
back with a blanket thrown over her muslin gown to 
protect it from the dust. Yet it was not too much of 
an undertaking to go all the way from Annapolis -to 
Baltimore, or vice versa, for the pleasure of being present 
at somebody's ball or dinner-party. Roads and weather 
permitting, the Catons occasionally made the trip in 
winter time in a " sled." Roads and weather had 
much to do with the timing of one's visits in those 
days of primitive transportation facilities when Charles 
Carroll recorded that he sent his servant from Dongho- 
regan with a led mare to fetch Miss Nancy Robinson 
who had been visiting at Homewood, his son's estate. 

Nature lent her perfecting hand to the rural life of 
these people, for nowhere was she ever more munificent 
in the bestowal of her epicurean gifts than in the State 
of Maryland, whose lands and whose waters alike cater 
to the gastronomic proclivities of the bon vivant. 

Oliver Wendell Holmes at a later period attributed a 

63 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

lack of appreciation of literature which he fancied he 
had detected among the Baltimoreans to the prepon- 
derance of these very blessings, and suggested that the 
highest monument in the city should be crowned with 
a canvas-back duck. 

There were club-houses and merrymaking in plenty, 
with oysters, soft-shell crabs, terrapin, canvas-back 
ducks, and a roasted young pig with an apple in its 
mouth, or a turkey stuffed with oysters, as piece de resis- 
tance, with a nip of punch for sauce. Miss Ridgley 
depicts it very temptingly in her little book. 

Foremost among the beautiful women whose pres- 
ence lent piquancy to this life were the Catons. In 
1807 Mary, who was at the time nineteen years old, 
was married to Robert Patterson, the eldest son of 
William Patterson. She thus became the sister-in-law 
of the unhappy Madame Jerome Bonaparte, between 
whom and herself there seems to have existed no great 
sympathy, through no fault of Mary Caton's. 

The event was a welcome one to William Patterson, 
who was at the time the wealthiest merchant in America. 
The wedding ceremony was performed in the private 
chapel of the Carroll family by Archbishop Carroll, 
who four years previously had similarly united Eliza- 
beth Patterson and Jerome Bonaparte. In April, 1811, 
Robert and his wife, accompanied by her sisters Eliza- 
beth and Louisa, went abroad, sailing from Baltimore 
on one of his father's ships and landing in Lisbon in 
the latter part of May. Robert Patterson had already 
travelled and lived much in Europe. To the Catons it 

64 




Mary Caton 

(Lady Wellesley) 

From portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence 



THE CATON SISTERS 

was the first of a series of numerous trans-Atlantic 
trips. 

While in Spain they met the Duke of Wellington, 
who was there at that time conducting the peninsular 
war, and Colonel Sir Felton Bathurst Hervey, who had 
been his aide-de-camp at Waterloo and whom Louisa 
Caton afterwards married. Charles Carroll, writing of 
Hervey after his marriage to Louisa, which occurred on 
the 1st of March, 1817, said, "All who know him 
love him." He was a gallant soldier and had lost his 
right arm at Vittoria. 

The Duke of Wellington's ardent admiration for 
Mrs. Patterson drew him within the wake of the little 
American party as they progressed in their travels over 
Europe, lending them the prestige which opened for 
them the most exclusive houses in England. Ap- 
parent as his admiration was, not the least breath of 
scandal ever touched the name of this beautiful young 
matron. The Prince Regent, to whom Wellington 
presented her, spoke later to Richard Rush, the Ameri- 
can Minister, of her unusual beauty. When she came, 
later in life, into contact with William IV. as first lady 
in waiting at Windsor, she won the sincere admiration 
of that sovereign oo account of the high standard of 
morality which she maintained. 

After the marriage of Hervey and Louisa Caton 
they were entertained by the Duke of Wellington at 
Walmer Castle. The Duchess of Rutland gave them 
a ball, and bestowed upon the sisters on that memor- 
able night the title under which they became famous, 
5 65 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

the " American Graces." Hervey's death occurred in 
1819, and Robert Patterson's at Baltimore in the fall 
of 1822. The widow of the latter shortly afterwards 
rejoined her sisters in England, where they were again 
entertained at Wellington's country-seat. While there 
they met for the first time his eldest brother, Richard 
Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, and like himself a sol- 
dier and a statesman. In 1797 he had been made 
Governor of India by George III., who, in return for 
the services he rendered there, had created him Marquis 
of Wellesley. At the time he met Mrs. Patterson and 
her sisters he was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Two 
years later, when Mrs. Patterson and Elizabeth Caton 
visited Dublin, he entertained them royally, bestowing 
the most devoted attentions upon the former, to whom 
he subsequently offered himself. 

After a brief engagement they were married at the 
viceregal castle, the ceremony being performed twice, 
to accord with the religious convictions of both the 
bride and the groom, the Archbishop of Dublin marry- 
ing them according to the rites of the Catholic Church, 
and the Lord Primate of Ireland according to those 
of the Church of England. 

Unusual magnificence marked the festivities which 
followed this event, as well as those of the remainder 
of Lord Mornington's reign as viceroy. 

On July 4, 1827, Bishop England, of South Caro- 
lina, gave the following toast to Charles Carroll, who 
was the last survivor of the signers of the Declaration 
of Independence : u To Charles Carroll of Carrollton : 

66 



THE CATON SISTERS 

in the land from which his grandfather fled in terror 
his granddaughter now reigns a queen." 

It was rather a strange coincidence that two daughters 
of the little American town of Baltimore, Elizabeth 
Patterson and Mary Caton, neighbors and contempo- 
raries, should have married brothers of two of the most 
formidable characters in modern history, Napoleon 
Bonaparte, the self-styled conqueror of the world, and 
the Duke of Wellington, his conqueror. 

Madame Jerome Bonaparte, who was in Europe at 
the time of her sister-in-law's second marriage, thus 
wrote to her father concerning it : 

" HAVRE, November 21, 1825. 

" DEAR SIR, I write by this packet to announce to you the marriage 
of Mrs. Robert Patterson. Mrs. Brown received a letter from Betsy 
Caton the day on which it was to take place. She has made the 
greatest match that any woman ever made. . . . The Marquis of 
Wellesley is Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He is sixty-five. He 
married an Italian singer, by whom he had a family of children. She 
is dead. He has no fortune. On the contrary, he is over head and 
ears in debt. His salary is ^3?>ooo per annum as Lord Lieutenant 
of Ireland. He will be there eighteen months longer, and if the 
King does not give him another place he is entitled as a poor noble- 
man to at least a thousand pounds a year. He is brother of the 
Duke of Wellington. Mary's fortune is reported in Europe to be 
^800,000 cash. It has been mentioned in all the papers at that 



Wellesley retained his position in Ireland till 1828. 
He was then appointed Controller of the Royal House- 
hold of William IV., and his wife first lady in waiting 

67 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

at Windsor Castle. Wellesley's death occurred in 
1842, the Marchioness surviving him over eleven years. 
The latter part of her life was spent at the Royal Palace 
at Hampton Court, where Queen Victoria presented 
her with a house in recognition of her husband's ser- 
vices. 

Louisa Caton was married for the second time in 
1828 to the eldest son of the Duke of Leeds, Francis 
Godolphin D'Arcy Osborne, Marquis of Carmarthen, 
who came into his title and estates ten years later. 

This marriage called forth another letter from Mad- 
ame Jerome Bonaparte to her father : " Louisa has 
made a great match. He is very handsome, not more 
than thirty-eight, and will be a duke with 30,000 a 
year." 

Elizabeth Caton married once, and that much later 
in life than her sisters. She became, in 1836, the wife 
of Baron Stafford, whose family name was Jerning- 
ham. 

Emily Caton, the youngest of the four sisters, and 
the only one who left descendants, married John Mac- 
Tavish, a Scotchman, who had settled in Canada, whence 
he was sent as consul to Baltimore. Josiah Quincy, 
who met her at dinner at her grandfather's in 1826, re- 
corded in his journal that he had been much impressed 
with her air of high breeding. 



68 



MARGARET O'NEILL 

(MRS. JOHN H. EATON) 

TO the student of social history few careers sur- 
pass in interest that of Margaret O'Neill. Born 
of humble parentage, she ran the gamut of 
social possibilities, exercising more influence over the 
political destinies of her country than any other Ameri- 
can woman has ever done. 

Unlike other great belles who owe their fame to the 
universal admiration they evoke, Margaret O'Neill 
owed hers quite as much to the animosity she roused. 
Her cause hotly espoused by the President of the 
United States, her conduct made the subject of cabinet 
debates, she rose to fame as broad as the land of her 
birth, and later beyond the seas to a fame unshadowed 
by enmity, though not dearer to her patriotic soul. 
Born late in the last century, she came to be a belle in 
so far as having beaux makes a girl a belle in the days 
when the native Washington girl had few rivals. The 
shriek of Fulton's steamboat had not yet startled the 
world. The stage-coach was the universal means of 
conveyance, though the daughters of some Southern 
and Western Congressmen, from districts unfamiliar even 

with its lumbering proportions, ambitious to taste the 

69 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

pleasures of a season at the capital, used frequently to 
make the tedious journey on horseback. Her girlhood 
belleship had well terminated, indeed she had married 
and brought children into the world, before the com- 
pletion of the great canal in 1826, which made the 
more sanguine voyager of that day hopeful that even- 
tually eight miles might be travelled in an hour ! 

Though she never knew the exact date of her birth, 
she had heard it frequently related that she was two 
weeks old at the time of Washington's funeral, Decem- 
ber 18, 1799. She was the eldest daughter of William 
O'Neill, a descendant of the O'Neills of Ulster County, 
Ireland, and himself a native of New Jersey, who had 
migrated to the capital with the hope of improving his 
fortunes. There he opened a tavern in the western 
section of the city, a short half-mile from the Presi- 
dent's house. He was a genial host, and his house 
soon attained popularity with the jeunesse doree^ as well 
as with military men and Congressmen, though it was 
a long way from the Capitol. The Union Tavern, in 
Georgetown, however, which was also popular with 
our early law-makers, was still farther away. From its 
door to the Capitol the old 'bus known as the Royal 
George, one of Washington's earliest institutions, made 
frequent trips, stopping at O'Neill's and other taverns 
and boarding-houses along the route to pick up its 
patrons. 

Margaret grew up in the unconventional atmosphere 
of the tavern, a type of undisciplined American girl- 
hood, wayward, high spirited, full of generous impulses, 

70 



MARGARET O'NEILL 

her mind fed on impetuous and misguided admiration, 
and herself blessed with a magnetic soul that drew 
most men and many women irresistibly to her. She 
was a toast that stirred the hearts of the most phleg- 
matic of mankind and evoked unparalleled enthusiasm 
from those of more ardent temperament. Hers was 
the highest type of Irish beauty, a marvellously white 
skin, soft gray eyes, warm chestnut hair that curled 
above an expressive brow, exquisite features, a small 
round chin, a delicately beautiful figure of medium 
height, with an erect carriage and her spirited head 
nobly poised. 

The "Health," written by Edward C. Pinkney, 
whom Edgar Allen Poe placed first in his estimate of 
lyric poets of America, is said to have been inspired by 
her in 1824. 

"I fill this cup to one made up of lovliness alone, 
A woman, of her gentle sex the seeming paragon, 
To whom the better elements and kindly stars have given 
A form so fair that, like the air, 'tis less of earth than heaven. 

" Her every tone is music's own, like those of morning birds, 
And something more than melody dwells ever in her words ; 
The coinage of her heart are they, and from her lips each flows, 
As one may see the burthened bee forth issue from the rose. 

"Of her bright face one glance will trace a picture on the brain, 
And of her voice, in echoing hearts a sound must long remain ; 
And memory such as mine of her so very much endures, 
When death is nigh, my latest sigh will not be life's, but hers. 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

" Affections are as naught to her, the measure of her hours ; 
Her feelings have the fragrancy, the freshness of young flowers. 
And lovely passions, changing oft, so fill her, she appears 
The image of themselves by turns the idol of past years. 

"I filled this cup to one made up of loveliness alone, 
A woman, of her gentle sex the seeming paragon. 
Her health ! And would on earth there stood some more of such 

a frame, 
That life might be all poetry and weariness a name." 

She went to school at Mrs. Hayward's seminary, and 
later to Mr. Kirk. She also attended a dancing-school 
that gave exhibitions of the grace and proficiency of 
its pupils in the parlors of the Union Tavern in George- 
town. At one of these exhibitions Margaret was 
crowned by Mrs. Madison, the wife of the President, 
as the prettiest girl and most graceful dancer in the 
room. Naturally ambitious, this first social triumph 
pointed out the possibility of greater ones, to be 
achieved only after bitter contests that would have 
crushed the spirit of a more sensitive woman. 

Her father deeming her sufficiently well educated, in 
which opinion she concurred, she quitted school in her 
fifteenth year, and, being now a young woman of be- 
witching beauty and abundant leisure, she entered ex- 
tensively upon her career as a belle. 

Two young military men whom her fascinations had 
ensnared were at one time on the point of a duel. 
With one of them, Captain Root, she had planned an 

elopement, and was actually about to descend from her 

72 



MARGARET O'NEILL 

window when she accidentally overturned a flower-pot : 
this crashing on the ground below, roused her father 
and put an end to her flight. More than that, her 
indignant parent carried her off to New York, where 
he left her under the wing of his old friend Governor 
De Witt Clinton, to go to Madame Nau's school. 
Clinton was very severe with the spoiled little beauty, 
and the staid atmosphere of his home was not con- 
genial to her. She wrote her father very homesick 
letters, in one of which she promised that if he would 
take her home " neither Root nor branch should ever 
tear her from him." Her wit greatly pleased him, and 
after he had passed the bon mot around among his 
guests and his Peggy's admirers, he went to New York 
and brought her home. 

It has been said that she was not yet sixteen when 
from a window of her father's tavern she for the first 
time saw John Bowie Timberlake, as he passed along 
Pennsylvania Avenue on horseback. Their acquaint- 
ance, engagement, and marriage followed within the 
space of a few weeks. 

Several years of quiet happiness ensued, during which 
three children, a son, who died in infancy, and two 
daughters, were born to them. 

Timberlake was a purser in the navy, and when he 
was ordered to sea duty he closed his little home, and 
his wife and children went to her father's to stay during 
the time of his absence. He died of asthma aboard 
the "Constitution," at Port Mahon. 

His widow shortly afterwards married General Eaton, 

73 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

who was at that time a United States Senator and a 
guest at her father's house. For the first time the little 
Peggy O'Neill, of triumphant dancing-school days, felt 
that her foot was actually upon the rounds of the social 
ladder. John Quincy Adams was President at the 
time, and one of the bitterest Presidential campaigns 
this country has ever witnessed had just drawn to a 
close in the election of Jackson. One victim of the 
freedom of press and speech, everywhere indulged in, 
was the wife of the President-elect. Her gentle soul, 
stung by the breath of slander, which all the vigilance 
of a devoted husband had been powerless to avert, had 
passed unregretfully from earth. Jackson came to 
Washington a bereaved and embittered man. 

There was a puritanical tendency among the women 
who made up the society of that era, and to whom 
Margaret O'Neill appeared as the embodiment of a 
sport-loving element that prevailed among men. 

Life had a rural quality in those days which it has 
since lost. Horse-racing was universal, and the great 
race between Eclipse and Sir Henry, run on Long Island 
May 27, 1823, for a purse often thousand dollars, was a 
national event. Hundreds of thousands of dollars had 
been staked, and Peggy O'Neill no doubt was inti- 
mately acquainted with some of the heaviest winners 
and losers, among the latter of whom was John Ran- 
dolph. Though she was far too young to remember 
the opening of the first race-track in Washington, No- 
vember 3, 1 803, she was yet familiar with all the details 
of its inauguration, on which occasion both houses of 

74 



MARGARET O'NEILL 

Congress had adjourned, the Senate to have the ceiling 
repapered, and the House, which was apparently less re- 
sourceful, because it had no pressing business on hand. 

Growing up in a public house, she was undoubtedly 
familiar with much in the lives of men of which other 
women of her day, leading more secluded lives, feigned 
ignorance. Yet she had become in no way contami- 
nated by the liberal atmosphere she had breathed from 
infancy. 

General Eaton and his bride returned from their 
honeymoon shortly before Jackson's inauguration. A 
few of the Senators' wives called upon her, but she was 
generally not well received, and slander had already 
begun its mischievous work when Jackson appeared in 
Washington and swore " by the Eternal" that his little 
friend, whom he had known all her life, should not be 
defamed. 

Her name was already on every lip at the capital, 
and there is no doubt that as many went to Jackson's 
inauguration ball to see her as to see the President. 
They stood on chairs and benches in their efforts to 
catch a glimpse of her, and she made a picture worthy 
of their endeavors, in her pink gown, with her head- 
dress of nodding black plumes. 

Eaton was made Secretary of War. He was Jack- 
son's old friend, and had labored unremittingly for his 
election. Moreover, thought the chivalrous old Presi- 
dent, this would insure Mrs. Eaton's triumph. The 
women of the cabinet, however, refused to recognize 
her. Though Mrs. Calhoun, the wife of the Vice- 

75 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

President, had called upon her as a Senator's wife, she 
declined to associate with her as the wife of a cabinet 
minister. Calhoun, to whom an appeal was made, 
declared himself powerless, as " the quarrels of women, 
like those of the Medes and Persians, admitted of 
neither inquiry nor explanation." 

Van Buren, Secretary of State, and Barry, Post- 
Master-General, the former a widower and the latter a 
bachelor, stood aloof from the tempest in which their 
fellow-officials were engulfed. That astute politician 
and prince of diplomats, Martin Van Buren, won 
Jackson's undying friendship by the warmth with 
which he took up his friend's cause. He had been a 
beau at evening functions when he was in the Senate, 
and he knew the social status of every one at Wash- 
ington, and precisely what brought every stranger to 
the capital. While he admired Mrs. Eaton and de- 
sired to defend her, he also undoubtedly realized all the 
advantages to be gained by such a course. 

The spirit of hostility gradually spread to every 
branch of society. The Diplomatic Corps became in- 
volved ; Vaughn, the British minister, and Baron Krud- 
ner, the Russian envoy, both bachelors, ranged them- 
selves beneath Mrs. Eaton's standard. They feted and 
dined her, and gave her substantial evidence of their 
adherence to her cause. Huygens, the Dutch minister, 
having a wife who belonged to the opposition, was less 
fortunate. Finding herself placed next to Mrs. Eaton 
at dinner on one occasion, Mrs. Huygens took her 

husband's arm and turned her back upon the assem- 

76 



MARGARET O'NEILL 

blage. While all who witnessed the affront were ap- 
palled into an awkward silence, Mrs. Eaton, following 
the retreating form with critical eyes, commented ad- 
miringly upon her fine carriage. 

Between her defenders and her defamers her Celtic 
blood bore her up, and her sunny soul lost none of its 
serenity. One of Jackson's biographers, however, 
states that when the matter reached the ears of the irate 
President, he threatened to demand Huygens's recall 
unless he and his wife forthwith apologize to Mrs. 
Eaton. 

The contest waxed warmer day by day, both houses 
of Congress furnishing recruits to one side or the 
other. 

The cabinet was dubbed the "Petticoat Cabinet," 
and Mrs. Eaton's fame as Bellona, the Goddess of War, 
spread through the land. Calhoun attacked the Presi- 
dent for retaining in his cabinet an element of so much 
discord. But Jackson was a true knight, and his friend- 
ship was stanch. 

The bitter feeling, meanwhile, among the cabinet 
ministers had attained such a pitch that they could no 
longer come together amicably. Their resignations 
were tendered to the President and accepted, and a new 
cabinet was formed. 

It was during a recess of Congress. Van Buren was 
sent as minister to England, where he was cordially 
received. When Congress reassembled, however, the 
Senate refused to confirm his appointment, Calhoun 
casting the decisive vote. 

77 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

A letter of Daniel Webster's, written about this time, 
reveals the seriousness of the situation. " It is odd 
enough," he wrote, " that the consequences of this dis- 
pute in the social and fashionable world are producing 
great political effects, and may very probably determine 
who shall be successor to the present Chief Magis- 
trate." And they did. Jackson's power and popu- 
larity were such that he was in a position to dictate to 
his party the choice of his successor. His choice fell 
upon Van Buren, who had undoubtedly labored for 
him in the days of his bitter fight for the Presidency, 
and who had further and effectually endeared himself to 
his chief by his zealous defence of Mrs. Eaton, who 
in Jackson's eyes was not only a fair and beautiful 
woman, but the representative of oppressed woman- 
hood. 

General Eaton was appointed governor to the Terri- 
tory of Florida, and later he was sent as our minister 
to the court of Madrid. 

This ended Mrs. Eaton's social conflict. She was 
graciously received and universally admired in that 
land of aristocrats, and her long residence there and in 
Paris, whither she went before returning to this country, 
formed one of the happiest periods of her life. 

One of her daughters, the beautiful Virginia Timber- 
lake, familiarly known among the men and women 
who were young with her, as " Ginger" Timberlake, 
married the Duke de Sampoyo and went to live in 
France, where, in turn, one of her daughters has re- 
cently married a son of the elder Rothschild. Mar- 

78 



MARGARET O'NEILL 

garet, Mrs. Eaton's second daughter, married one of 
the Virginia Randolphs. To the children by this mar- 
riage, deprived by death of both parents, Mrs. Eaton 
devoted many years of her life. General Eaton died 
in 1859. 

A third marriage contracted by his widow late in 
life, and subsequently annulled, was productive of much 
unhappiness in her home. 

On the 8th of November, 1879, sne reluctantly 
gave up her hold on life, whose volume had held for 
her so few blank pages. 

In the presence of that foe which every woman fears 
most, slander, she had never retreated from the position 
she early determined to carry, and which circumstances 
proved she was well able to fill. She bore all with a 
sweet courage, feeling keenly, but not morbidly, the 
world's sting. 

Preserving to the end her wonderful elasticity of 
spirit, she went out from a life that had been one 
of alternate turmoil and triumph, beholding only its 
beauties and loving it to the last. " I am not afraid 
to die," she said, " but it is such a beautiful world to 
leave." 



79 



CORA LIVINGSTON 

(MRS. THOMAS PENNANT BARTON) 

CORA LIVINGSTON was born in New Orleans, 
"the little Paris of America," on the i6th of 
June, 1806, the year of the great eclipse. Her 
father, writing to announce her advent to his sister in 
New York, said God had given him so fair a daughter 
that the sun had hidden its face. 

Though she was a great belle with a national reputa- 
tion during the decade from 1820 to 1830, those who 
attempted an analysis of her charm declared that she 
lacked that attribute which many would esteem the 
first requisite to belleship, beauty. Yet she was a nota- 
ble example of that subtle power that raises a woman 
above her contemporaries, that evokes an involuntary 
homage from every eye. 

Her mother, writing of her when she was about six- 
teen and already the belle of New Orleans, to one who 
had never seen her, said, " She is not a beauty, not a 
genius, but a good and affectionate child." 

Josiah Quincy, that ubiquitous beau who paid his 
court to the belles of so many cities, seeing her in 
Washington in 1826, declared that she was not hand- 
some, while he admitted that she was undoubtedly the 

80 



CORA LIVINGSTON 

greatest belle in the United States. " She has a fine 
figure, a pretty face, dances well, and dresses to admira- 
tion," he continued, endeavoring to solve the mystery 
of the attraction exercised by this exquisite specimen 
of womanhood. He further confessed that when he 
left her he bore away an image of loveliness and grace 
never to be erased, and he went on to quote Burke's 
apostrophe to the Queen of France, " Surely never 
lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, 
a more delightful vision." 

She was the daughter of Edward Livingston, a 
brother of that Chancellor Livingston who, on the 
3Oth of April, 1789, administered the oath of office to 
the first President of the United States, and of an emi- 
nently beautiful Creole, Louise Moreau. 

Fleeing the terrors of the negro insurrection in San 
Domingo, Madam Moreau, a young widow, arrived 
in New Orleans just as the Louisiana purchase was 
consummated and the province became the property 
of the United States. French then to the very core, 
the city has retained evidences of its origin longer 
than any city of the Union. The thrill of anguish 
with which it realized that Louisiana had been sold 
by Napoleon to the United States " on this gth of 
July, 1803, at seven P.M.," left its indelible impression 
upon a people loyal to their nationality and tenacious 
of its prerogatives. 

The wave of emigration which swept into the newly 
acquired territory from the north bore thither Edward 
Livingston, of New York. Fortune's reverses had 

6 81 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

driven him into the new country with the hope of 
finding there a more promising field for his talent and 
labors. 

The Americans were not well received. Scarcely 
more than a hundred out of the eight thousand inhabi- 
tants had greeted the stars and stripes as they were 
raised for the first time over the city. So strong, in- 
deed, was the prejudice against them that every un- 
fortunate occurrence was instantly attributed to them. 
Miss Hunt relates that upon one occasion when a ball 
was interrupted by an earthquake an indignant old 
Creole gentleman exclaimed that the pleasure of ladies 
had never thus been interrupted in the days of Spanish 
or French dominion. 

Livingston's knowledge of the language, his tact, 
his adaptiveness, together with his splendid ability, 
soon raised him to a conspicuous place at the bar. He 
was a widower, thirty-nine years of age, when he mar- 
ried Madam Moreau, who was but nineteen. Cora was 
the only child of this marriage, and ever, even after her 
own marriage, the inseparable companion of both 
parents. From her father she derived a sound knowl- 
edge of the political questions of the day that made 
her an intelligent spectator of the historic period in 
which she lived. From her mother she inherited that 
grace, mental and physical, that so indelibly impressed 
her upon the life of which she formed so brilliant a 
part that her name can no more be eliminated from it 
than can the names of Andrew Jackson, Martin Van 

Buren, Daniel Webster, or Henry Clay. 

82 



CORA LIVINGSTON 

The cultivation of her mind was intrusted to her 
uncle, Major August Davezac, from whom she re- 
ceived an education of unusual scope. She matured 
early, being probably more or less at all times a part 
of the social life that surrounded her parents and into 
which she made her formal entree at the age of fourteen. 

The social atmosphere of New Orleans at this time 
was like that of no other city on the North American 
Continent. Creole tastes and institutions were pre- 
dominant. The only society of the city was Creole, 
and very delightful and very exclusive it was. The 
French opera was then, as it has been since, one of its 
conspicuous features. Tuesdays and Saturdays were 
the nights when the fashionable world was to be seen 
in the boxes, and the stage presented nothing more 
attractive than the beautifully dressed women of the 
audience, with their artistic coiffures. There were 
receptions in the boxes between the acts, and a belle's 
powers of attraction were thus publicly manifested to 
a people ever ready to add the tribute of its homage. 

Cora Livingston before she was sixteen years old, 
gentle and retiring, shrinking from publicity such as 
attaches to belles at this end of the century, was known 
throughout the city of her birth as its greatest belle. 
In the evenings of the warm season, when the balcony 
of her house in Chartres Street was converted into a 
reception-room, in the midst of a devoted family she 
received not only the admiration of distinguished 
guests, but the chivalrous and silent homage of many 
an unknown passer-by. 

83 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Frenchmen visiting New Orleans frequently brought 
letters of introduction from Lafayette to Livingston, 
whom he had known in New York. Cora thus early 
became accustomed to an association not only with 
people of her own city, but with many eminent cos- 
mopolites. 

In 1812, when war was declared against England, 
New Orleans fell into line and gave glorious proof of 
her loyalty. Her prejudices were swallowed up in the 
common cause that drew all sections of the country 
together, and she became in deed, as she already was 
in name, an American city. 

General Jackson's friendship for the Livingstons, of 
which he gave so many handsome proofs, began at 
this time. 

In 1822 Edward Livingston was elected to Congress, 
and for eleven years thereafter Washington became his 
home. While he achieved prominence as a legislator 
and statesman, the brilliancy of his daughter was ac- 
quiring for her a national reputation. He leased the 
Decatur residence on Lafayette Square, within a stone's 
throw of the White House, and there gathered about 
this distinguished family the most cultured element 
of the Washington of that period, the Calhouns and 
their gifted daughter with her perspicuous political 
theories, the Adamses, Webster, Clay, Chief Justice 
Marshall, Martin Van Buren, Mrs. Madison, their 
neighbor across the Park, and the widow of Admiral 
Decatur. 

It was the exception in those days for members of 

84 




Cora Livingston 

(Mrs. Thomas Pennant Barton) 

From miniature by herself 



CORA LIVINGSTON 

Congress to have their own homes. They lived for 
the most part in hotels and boarding-houses, and the 
resident branch of society was more distinctive. Mrs. 
Decatur, widowed by the famous Bladensburg duel of 
March 20, 1820, had retired to her estate at Kalorama, 
which became one of the most delightful centres of 
resident society. She favored the Livingstons with her 
sincere regard, and included them among her guests, 
frequently as often as three times in one week. To 
stand forth as she does from among the bevy of bril- 
liant women who led the social life of Washington, 
at a time when conversation was a fine art, deriving 
a stimulus from such men as Randolph, Pinckney, 
Webster, and Story, and when women were quite the 
equals, in wit, humor, and happy rejoinder, of these 
veteran conversationalists, is an indisputable proof of 
the superior mental endowments of Cora Livingston. 

The Capitol was then as much a feature to the people 
of Washington as it is to-day to the people outside of 
Washington. Thither the belles and beaux of the 
city betook themselves as regularly as the session 
opened, walking down Pennsylvania Avenue beneath 
the double row of Lombardy poplars, planted when 
Jefferson was President. The halls of Congress were 
smaller and better adapted to both seeing and hearing 
than they are at present. The discussion of public 
questions differed also from what one hears nowadays, 
there being more spontaneity in the oratory and a larger 
number participating, unless, indeed, there was a grand 
occasion when the big guns were brought into action, 

85 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

and Clay's mellifluous voice was heard, or Webster's 
organ notes pealed forth, or Randolph's shrill pipe rent 
the air. 

A distinctive social feature of the time were the 
assembly balls, held usually at some such place as 
Carucci's, where Cora Livingston's graceful dancing 
again made her the cynosure of all eyes. The set in 
which she danced there were no round dances in those 
days was continually surrounded by admiring specta- 
tors, many dancers foregoing that pleasure for the 
greater one of watching her. Cora Livingston in a 
ball-gown, going through the stately evolutions of a 
quadrille, the very embodiment of winsome grace, was 
a vision that tarried long afterwards with many who so 
beheld her. 

It was at Carucci's in the winter of 1826, when Miss 
Livingston's belleship was at its height, that the waltz 
was first seen in Washington. Baron Stoekelburg, of 
the Russian legation, was its sponsor, and all Washing- 
ton looked on with dismay, the Baron and his fair 
partner, whose name has been lost in oblivion, though 
her temerity should have earned her a better fate, having 
the floor to themselves. 

In 1829 Livingston went into the Senate, and in 
May, 1831, he succeeded Van Buren as Secretary of 
State, Van Buren having taken the high ground, so 
Livingston expressed it, that as a candidate for the 
Presidency he should not remain in the Cabinet. 

In 1833 President Jackson offered Livingston the 
mission to France. Our affairs with that country were 

86 



CORA LIVINGSTON 

in a complicated condition, and Livingston's patriotism 
induced him to accept the office. 

In April of that year his daughter was married to 
Thomas Pennant Barton, a son of Dr. Benjamin Barton, 
of Philadelphia. President Jackson appointed him 
Secretary of the legation at Paris, sending his appoint- 
ment enclosed in a note to Cora, that she might have 
the pleasure of presenting it to him with her own 
hands. Her intimate acquaintance with the President 
dated back to her early childhood, when she was 
scarcely taller than the cavalry boots worn by the 
hero of the battle of New Orleans, who readily prom- 
ised to hang Mitchell, the highest English officer among 
the prisoners, if the British so much as touched a hair 
of her father's head. He evinced a paternal pride in 
the adulation she everywhere received as a woman. At 
his request she stood as godmother to his wife's great 
niece, Mary Donalson, now Mrs. Wilcox, who was 
born in the White House during his term of office. 

On their return to America, in 1835, both the Liv- 
ingstons and Bartons made their home at Montgomery 
Place at Barrytown on the Hudson, an estate of three 
hundred acres, which Mr. Livingston had inherited 
from his sister, Mrs. Montgomery, the widow of Gen- 
eral Montgomery, of Revolutionary fame. 

Mr. Barton was a man of scholarly tastes, to which 
the tranquil atmosphere of Montgomery Place, with all 
its historic associations, together with the close com- 
panionship of his gifted wife, was an inspiration. He 
accumulated there a library which, at the time of his 

,87 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

death, was considered one of the most valuable private 
collections in America. He bequeathed it to his wife 
with the request that she make such disposition of it 
as best pleased her. Shortly before her death she ar- 
ranged' for its transfer to the Boston Library, where it 
is preserved, as she knew her husband desired his life 
work should be, in its entirety, and known as the Bar- 
ton collection. 

In 1870 she went to France to superintend there the 
publication of a new edition of her father's work on 
Penal Laws, which appeared simultaneously with an 
English edition. In France a number of her father's 
friends were still living, among them Mr. Charles Lucas, 
of the French Institute, who wrote the Preface to the 
edition brought out in that country. 

Having survived her parents and husband, Mrs. 
Barton died suddenly at Montgomery Place on the 
23d of May, 1873. 

The last two winters of her life were spent in Wash- 
ington, where, at a time when American society was 
singularly rapid, she shone as the last ray from the 
glory of an age that was gone, in her whole manner 
and bearing the unmistakable gentlewoman. 

Going one day to her former home, the Decatur 
House, she requested, without giving her name, that 
she might be permitted to see the drawing-room. 
General Beale, who then occupied the house, of which 
his widow still retains possession, in courteous com- 
pliance with her request, led the way thither. As she 
entered the familiar apartment, memory, conjuring up 

88 



CORA LIVINGSTON 

the forms that were no more, shut out the actual pres- 
ence of^l^r host. At length regaining her self-posses- 
sion, she said, " A strange desire has of late possessed 
me to see again this house in which I spent such happy 
days. Just where I am standing now I stood thirty-nine 
years ago and was married." " You then were Miss 
Cora Livingston," said the general, entering into her 
mood and reverting instinctively to the days when her 
scintillating wit had made the name famous, though 
in the sorrow-laden woman there was no trace of the 
glorious girl. 



EMILY MARSHALL 

(MRS. WILLIAM FOSTER OTIS) 

BOSTON claims as her own the greatest American 
man of the nineteenth century, and even with 
more justice, the most beautiful woman born 
in America within the same period. " Emily Mar- 
shall as completely filled the ideal of the lovely and 
feminine, as did Webster the ideal of the intellectual 
and the masculine," Quincy, a native of the same State, 
has written of her, adding that though superlatives 
were intended only for the use of the very young, not 
even the cooling influences of half a century enabled 
him to avoid them in speaking of her. 

He never forgot the first time he saw her walking 
on Dover Street Bridge, Boston's fashionable prom- 
enade in those days. " Centuries are likely to come 
and go," he continued, " before society will again gaze 
spellbound upon a woman so richly endowed with 
beauty as was Miss Emily Marshall. She stood be- 
fore us, a reversion to that faultless type of structure 
which artists have imagined in the past, and to that 
ideal loveliness of feminine disposition which poets 
have placed in the mythical golden age." 

Daniel Webster % upon one occasion, during his resi- 

90 



EMILY MARSHALL 

dence in Boston, entered the old Federal Street Theatre, 
and was hailed with cheers. A few minutes later 
Emily Marshall appeared in her box, when the entire 
audience rose as one man and offered her the same 
homage it had bestowed upon Webster. To us who 
look back upon her, through nearly three-quarters of a 
century, she stands forth in such exquisite relief from 
her environment that we are conscious of it only where 
the light of her beguiling presence touches it. 

She was the daughter of Josiah Marshall, a Boston 
merchant in the China trade, a man of sagacity and en- 
terprise in business affairs, and possessed of those traits 
that made him a most lovable father, wisdom, benevo- 
lence, and gentleness, with a quaint humor and readi- 
ness in repartee that enhanced the bond of comradeship 
between himself and his children. 

The people of his own State, as well as the inhabi- 
tants of the far-away Sandwich Islands, are indebted to 
him for many benefactions. To the latter his ships 
carried the first missionaries, the materials for the first 
houses erected there, and the carpenters to build them. 
Upon being charged duty on some salmon which he 
had imported from the Columbia River, he pointed out 
to Louis Cass the desirability of establishing the claim 
of the United States to the region of Oregon. 

In the improvements which added so much to the 
prosperity of Boston in 1826 he was Mayor Quincy's 
constant adviser and abettor. 

He was a handsome man, with firm mouth and kin- 
dling eyes, and his quick step was well known in the 

91 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

business world, where to many a young man he gave 
the opportunity which was the opening of a successful 
mercantile career. 

He was a son of Lieutenant Isaac Marshall of the 
Revolutionary army, and a great- grandson of John 
Marshall, one of the founders of Billerica, Massachu- 
setts, in which town he was born. In the year 1800 
he married Priscilla Waterman, a daughter of Freeman 
Waterman, who represented the town of Halifax in 
the Cambridge Convention which ratified for Massa- 
chusetts the Constitution of the United States. 

Waterman had a sister who was distinguished for 
her charm, and who married a Mr. Josselyn. Tra- 
ditions of the Josselyn beauty lingered in Plymouth 
until Emily Marshall's time. Mrs. Marshall was a 
woman of much beauty, grace, and dignity. 

Emily was born in the year 1807 on an estate at 
Cambridge, which had been laid out a century before 
by Thomas Brattle. Shortly after her birth her parents 
moved into a house in Brattle Square, Boston, known 
as the White House. It was built upon a terrace, with 
steps running down to the square. A large, old-fash- 
ioned garden in the rear was one of its attractions. 
The house had already had two distinguished tenants, 
Lieutenant-Governor Bolin and John Adams, the latter 
having lived there when he was a young lawyer. 

When Emily was fourteen years old her family once 
more transplanted their household gods, going this time 
into the house on Franklin Place, to which her beauty 

brought such fame. It had already begun to manifest 

92 



EMILY MARSHALL 

itself, and when she was but nine or ten years of age 
she was frequently stopped on the street by strangers, 
who asked whose child she was and involuntarily told 
her of her budding loveliness. Yet so unconscious 
did she ever appear of its possession, so wholly lacking 
in personal vanity, that one of her sisters, gazing upon 
her one night arrayed in a ball gown, and unable to 
restrain her admiration, asked her if she realized how 
beautiful she was. " Yes," she replied, " I know that 
I am beautiful, but I do not understand why people act 
so unwisely about it." 

Her education was begun at Madame English's 
school, where Russell Sturgis, afterwards a partner of 
the Barings, said he first made her acquaintance. Like 
every one else who ever saw her, he never forgot her. 
More than forty years after her death, writing to thank 
her daughter for the photograph of a portrait she had 
sent him, he said, " I remember perfectly the portrait 
and the time when it was painted. No painter could 
ever give the brilliant expression which always lighted 
her beautiful face ; the portrait is as good, therefore, as 
any one could make it." 

At Dr. Park's school on Mount Vernon Street, then 
one of the best girls' schools in Boston, Margaret 
Fuller was one of her school-mates, and confessed later 
to a sister of Emily's that she would willingly have 
changed her mental gifts for those of the beauty and 
magnetism with which Emily was endowed. 

From Dr. Park's Emily went to Madame Canda's 
French school on Chestnut Street. Her musical edu- 

93 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

cation, which continued till the time of her marriage, 
was conducted by Mr. Matthew, Mademoiselle Ber- 
thien, and Mr. Ostinelli. 

The long acquaintance existing for generations 
among the families and individuals who made up the 
Boston society of Emily Marshall's day, had instilled 
into it a spirit of delightful simplicity. A traveller 
from Great Britain who visited the United States early 
in the century declared that all the people of the Bay 
State called one another by their Christian names. 

Dinner-parties were daylight affairs, beginning usually 
not later than four o'clock. The dinner was served 
in courses, beginning with soup, which was followed 
frequently by a corn-meal pudding designed for the 
avowed purpose of mitigating the appetite before the 
introduction of the roast, which was carved upon the 
table by the host, and served with Madeira, port, or 
sherry. 

One of Harrison Gray Otis's favorite after-dinner 
stories, which he told in his own matchless way, was 
of the first appearance of champagne in Boston. It 
was introduced by the French consul, the unsophisti- 
cated Bostonians partaking of the palatable beverage 
with all the confidence which they were wont to bestow 
upon cider, of which they thought it to be only a mild 
form and of foreign extraction. 

From eight until twelve were the hours for balls, at 
which girls out for the first time wore white book- 
muslin frocks, the belles of a season or more appearing 
in tarleton, and dancing out a pair of slippers in an 

94 



EMILY MARSHALL 

evening, slippers then being made with paper soles and 
no heels. Light refreshments, such as nuts, raisins, or 
oysters, were served at these evening affairs, and were 
passed on trays, there being no elaborately set supper- 
tables. 

The five-o'clock tea, now so prevalent throughout 
the country, made its way first into Boston and New 
York, where it appeared in all its native English sim- 
plicity. 

From England also came actors bringing us our first 
conception of Shakespearean characters, Cooper inter- 
preting Hamlet to a Boston audience in 1807, the year 
Emily Marshall was born, followed by Wallack, Ed- 
mund Kean, Charles Matthews, the comedian, and 
Phillips, with his infectious songs, the echoes of such 
refrains as " Though love is warm awhile" floating 
long after from drawing-room, nursery, and kitchen. 

From the mother-country came our literature of the 
early century, Scott, the new writer, being much read, 
also Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, 
and Shakespeare always. 

Boston early achieved her reputation as a patroness 
of letters. At her noted seat of learning not only the 
youth of America, but a number of foreigners were 
even then educated. Many an American boy who 
claimed Harvard as his Alma Mater had journeyed to 
her sacred precincts, when the country was in its teens, 
all the way from the wilds of Kentucky on horseback. 

Commencement day was a State holiday, when the 
flower of Massachusetts womanhood united to do 

95 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

honor to the occasion. Many a man went thence on 
his way with a face enshrined in his memory that he 
had not found in his Virgil or his Homer, though 
nothing more perfect graced those classic pages than 
the face of Emily Marshall. 

Though Willis's sonnet speaks of her eyes as hazel, 
they have been described elsewhere as black. It is 
probable that their color varied and intensified with 
every thought or emotion. Her hair was of that 
golden brown that flashes like bronze in the sunlight. 
In height she was five feet and five inches. " Her 
personal grace," said one of her admirers, a judge of 
the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, " was not acquired ; 
a creature of such absolute natural perfection was 
physically unable to make an ungraceful movement." 

One who knew her in daily life writes : " The un- 
speakable grace, the light of the eye, the expression of 
the face, they come back to me as I think of her, but 
I cannot convey them to others. It was the light in a 
porcelain vase. You could draw the outlines of the 
vase, but when the light was quenched it could be 
known no more." 

Enshrined in this form of almost unearthly loveli- 
ness was a spirit of even rarer beauty, a character 
that would have made even an ugly woman a force. 
In every relationship she wielded an exquisite influence. 
With a nature profoundly and silently religious were 
combined a high sense of duty, a ready sympathy, an 
absolute frankness and simplicity, a clear, practical 

judgment, and a rapid insight into character. 

9 6 



EMILY MARSHALL 

In conversation she drew out the best thoughts of 
others intuitively and without vanity, reserving her own 
brilliant intellect and ready wit for those who really 
enjoyed it. 

To her children, her self-abnegation, her gentleness, 
her faultless judgment, the intense womanliness of her 
nature, made her an ideal mother. She was as tenderly 
loved by women as she was chivalrously worshipped by 
man. Her twenty-nine years of life were all too short 
for those who prized and lost her. 

" Say that no envious thought could have been pos- 
sible in her presence," is another woman's tribute to 
her ; " that her sunny ways were fascinating to all alike ; 
that she was as kind and attentive to the stupid and 
tedious as if they were talented and of social promi- 
nence." Of the effect everywhere produced by so ex- 
quisite a personality there are countless evidences. It 
was not restricted to any age, sex, or social class. Mr. 
William Amory claims to have been in his youth the 
most distinguished man in Boston, because he was not 
in love with Emily Marshall. 

A carpenter, whose shop was near the house in which 
she lived after her marriage, failed to go home to his 
dinner one day, and being asked the reason, replied that 
he had seen Mrs. Otis go out earlier in the day and he 
hoped that she might come back that way, adding that 
he would rather see her any day than eat his dinner. 

Franklin Place became the favorite walk with the 
young men of Boston, many of whom never failed 
once or twice daily to pass her house, with the hope of 
7 97 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

catching a glimpse of her at one of its windows. 
Dr. Malcolm's church, of which she was a member, 
also added many devotees to its congregation, William 
Lloyd Garrison being among the number, who con- 
fessed that he occasionally went there with the hope of 
seeing the lovely face of Emily Marshall. 

Nor was the repute of her beauty confined to her 
native city. Wherever she went her unusual presence 
was instantly felt ; she needed no society correspondent 
to herald her, no princely admirer to create prestige for 
her. Her claim to the world's homage was self-evi- 
dent. She was a queen in her own right. 

When she visited Philadelphia, so great was the 
desire to see her that the young girls were let out of 
school before the usual closing hour, that they might 
have an opportunity to see her as she passed along the 
street. 

While she was at Saratoga, " gay, amusing, and con- 
fusing," reached in those days from Boston by a tedious 
stage-coach ride across the country, she never left the 
hotel nor returned to it without attracting a throng of 
people, eager even for a passing glimpse of her. 

Nathaniel Parker Willis, who once had made a jour- 
ney in the same coach in which Emily Marshall and her 
mother were travelling, related afterwards that wherever 
the coach stopped for dinner the news of the mar- 
vellous beauty of one of the passengers was spread 
abroad so rapidly that by the time Miss Marshall re- 
turned to her seat in the coach a great crowd of people 

would be assembled to see her. 

98 



EMILY MARSHALL 

The following is Willis's very pretty acrostic on 
Emily Marshall, which is included in his published 
verses in the form of a sonnet : 



Elegance floats about thee like a dress, 

Melting the airy motion of thy form 
Into one swaying grace, and loveliness, 

like a rich tint that makes a picture warm, 
Is lurking in the chestnut of thy tress, 

Enriching it as moonlight after storm 
Mingles dark shadows into gentleness. 

A beauty that bewilders like a spell 
Reigns in thine eyes' dear hazel, and thy brow, 

So pure in veined transparency, doth tell 
How spiritually beautiful art thou, 

A temple where angelic love might dwell, 
Life in thy presence were a thing to keep, 
Like a gay dreamer clinging to his sleep." 



Percival's sonnet, published in the Literary Gazette 
of Philadelphia, August, 1825, is perhaps the best 
known of the poetical outpourings which her loveli- 
ness inspired. It also is an acrostic. 

" Earth holds no fairer, lovelier than thou, 

Maid of the laughing lip and frolic eye ; 
Innocence sits upon thy open brow 

Like a pure spirit in its native sky. 
If ever beauty stole the heart away, 

Enchantress, it would fly to meet thy smile; 
Moments would seem by thee a summer's day 
And all around thee an Elysian isle. 
99 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Roses are nothing to thy maiden blush 

Sent o'er thy cheek's soft ivory ; and night 
Has naught so dazzling in its world of light 

As the dark rays that from thy lashes gush. 
Love lurks among thy silken curls and lies, 
Like a keen archer, in thy kindling eyes." 

William Foster Otis, to whom she was married in 
May, 1831, first saw her when she was fourteen years 
old, on her way home from school. He loved her 
from the moment his eyes fell upon her, and honored 
her with the loyalty of a lifetime, though death 
robbed him of her five years after their marriage. 

Of the wedding there is extant a very good descrip- 
tion in the form of a letter written by the bridegroom's 
sister, under date of May 20, 1831. 

" There were fifty guests at the wedding, an enormous crowd at 
the visit [reception] which kept us until half-past ten from supper. 
The bride looked very lovely, and was modest and unaffected. Her 
dress was a white crepe lisse, with a rich vine of silver embroidery 
at the top of the deep hem. The neck and sleeves were trimmed 
with three rows of elegant blond lace very wide. Gloves embroid- 
ered with silver, stockings ditto. Her dark-brown hair dressed plain 
in front, high bows with a few orange-blossoms and a rich blond lace 
scarf, tastefully arranged on her head, one end hanging front over her 
left shoulder, the other hanging behind over her right. No orna- 
ments of any kind, either on her neck or ears, not even a buckle. 
I never saw her look so beautiful. Every one was remarking on her 
beauty as they passed in and out of the room. Mrs. Marshall [the 
bride's mother] looked extremely handsome. William [the bride- 
groom] looked quite as handsome as the bride, and seemed highly 
delighted. The bride and groom went to their house alone [70 

100 



EMILY MARSHALL 

Beacon Street] about one o'clock [in the morning] . The groomsmen 
serenaded them until the birds sang as loud as their instruments." 

James Freeman Clarke, who was present at her wed- 
ding, said afterwards that he " had often been perplexed 
at the accounts he had read of the great personal 
power of Mary Queen of Scots. He had never been 
able to comprehend how the mere beauty of a woman 
could so control the destinies of individuals and 
nations, causing men gladly to accept death as the 
price of a glance of the eyes or a touch of the hand." 
After he had beheld Emily Marshall, however, he re- 
alized the possibilities of such a power that is not 
created once in a century. 

She died in 1826, leaving two daughters and an 
infant son. 

" She had no autumn, not a storm 

Darkened her youthful happiness ; 
No winter came to bend that form, 
Or silver o'er a silken tress. 

" We miss her when we gaze on beauty's throng, 
We miss her, aye, and we shall mourn her long. 
Yet mourn her not, she had the best of life ; 
A tender mother and a happy wife." 

The above lines were written by her friend Fanny 
Inglis, afterwards Madame Calderon de la Barca. 

The chivalrous devotion which her daughters call 
forth, after more than threescore years, from the men 
who knew her is in itself sufficient to place her among 
the classics of American womanhood. 

101 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

(MADAME LE VERT) 

INTO a world in which so many are born strangers, 
some later to know it in part and others destined 
to remain forever out of touch with life, and lonely 
spectators rather than a part of it, Octavia Walton came 
as unto her own. Every atom of her being was in abso- 
lute accord with the universe. No bristling antipathies 
hedged in her genial personality nor raised barriers be- 
tween herself and the beauties of life. She perceived 
them always and with an enthusiasm that raised not 
only her own existence, but that of many others, above 
the level of the commonplace. She was a sort of 
social sun, radiating light, warmth, and beauty upon 
all the lives that touched hers, and it has been said that 
no one ever came in contact with her, of no matter 
what rank or condition in life, without experiencing a 
sense of elation. She was one of nature's cosmopo- 
lites, a woman to whom the whole world was home 
and the people of all nations her friends. Far more to 
this gift of temperament than to those of her personal 
beauty or intellect, does she owe the eminence of her 
position among the American women of her century. 

She was born early enough in the history of the 
Republic to partake in a measure of the glow of pa- 



102 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

triotic enthusiasm that had been the inspiration of its 
founders. Though she was intensely American, she 
grew up with no touch of bitterness for the mother- 
country, cherishing the memory of Chatham's words 
uttered in the House of Lords, " You cannot conquer 
America," rather than his sovereign's misguided efforts 
" to be a king." 

Her grandfather, George Walton, who died two 
years before her birth, was one of the signers of the 
Declaration of Independence. He was a native of 
Prince Edward County, Virginia, but removed, prior to 
the Revolution, to Georgia, whence he was sent as a 
delegate to the first Congress. He had married, in the 
State of his adoption, Miss Camber, the daughter of an 
English nobleman and the heiress to large tracts of 
land that were grants from the crown. To this grand- 
mother Octavia Walton was indebted for many graphic 
stories of the thrilling days through which her coun- 
try had passed in establishing itself as an independent 
nation. She was in Philadelphia with her husband, 
who was in attendance upon the Congress there, when 
the news of the fall of Yorktown was received. The 
town was quietly sleeping when the watchman calling 
the hours announced, as usual, " Past midnight, and 
all's well !" then, after an instant's pause and in a voice 
that resounded through the streets, " And Cornwallis is 
taken !" It sent a thrill through the town, and turned 
that October night into day, for presently the streets 
were swarming with people wild with joyous excite- 
ment. 

103 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

When Madame Le Vert related to Lamartine, with 
whom she passed an evening during one of her visits to 
Paris, in speaking of the Declaration of Independence, 
that her grandfather's name was thereon inscribed, 
and that he had given his blood and his fortune to the 
cause of America's freedom, the Frenchman arose and 
bowed to her profoundly. " Madame," he said, " in his 
name you have a noble heritage. It is the true patent 
of nobility, and you rightly cherish your descent from 
such a brave and heroic patriot with honest pride." 

The State of Georgia gave George Walton high 
honors, making him governor and, later, judge of the 
Supreme Court, and erecting a monument to com- 
memorate his sterling qualities in one of the princi- 
pal thoroughfares of the city of Augusta. His son 
and namesake married the accomplished and beau- 
tiful Miss Sally Walker, the daughter of a distin- 
guished jurist of Georgia. Of the two children of 
their marriage, a son and a daughter, the latter was 
born at Bellevue, near Augusta, in the year 1810. She 
was named by her mother after the Roman Octavia, the 
beloved and noble sister of Augustus and the deserted 
wife of Marc Anthony, and was taught to revere the 
beauty of a character that possessed, as Pope Pius IX. 
said, when Madame Le Vert told him for whom she 
was named, " every virtue and grace that should adorn 
a woman." 

Her early education was directed entirely by her 
mother and grandmother. An old Scotch tutor later 

assumed charge of the studies of Octavia and her 

104 




Octavia Walton 
(Madame Le Vert) 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

brother, instructing them together in the sciences and 
languages. The facility with which Octavia mas- 
tered the latter was an evidence of the remarkable elas- 
ticity and adaptability of her nature. She acquired 
readily not only the language, but all the gestures and 
mannerisms of a foreign people. To her father this 
branch of her education was a matter of much interest. 
In the year 1821, when she was eleven years old, he 
became Secretary of State for Florida under Andrew 
Jackson, who was governor of the Territory. There 
often came to him in connection with the affairs of his 
office, letters and despatches in French and Spanish, of 
both of which languages she had so accurate a knowl- 
edge that he could entirely rely upon her translations 
of them. During a court ball at which she was 
present while in England, some years after her marriage, 
she delighted the ambassadors from France, Spain, and 
Italy by talking with each in his own tongue. She 
pleased the Holy Father no less upon the occasion of 
her audience with him, when, after he had spoken with 
her in both French and Spanish, thinking it might be 
less of an effort for him, she asked him to speak in his 
own tongue. During her residence in Florida, where 
her father succeeded General Jackson in the governor- 
ship, she also acquired a goodly store of Indian legends, 
which became later the delight of many an audience. 
She related on shipboard one night the story of Ala- 
bama having received the name from a tribe of Indians 
who were driven by a fierce northern foe to the forests 

of the southeast, and, coming upon a beautiful river, 

105 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

the chief struck his tent-pole, exclaiming " Alabama ! 
Alabama !" meaning, " Here we rest." She was greeted, 
upon going on deck the following day, with an out- 
spread buffalo-robe, which a Chicagoan was taking to 
England as a gift for the Queen, and requested to make 
it her " Alabama" during the remainder of the voyage. 

When her father selected a permanent seat of gov- 
ernment for Florida, he permitted her to give it a name, 
and she called it Tallahassee, the Indian word for 
" beautiful land," as a courtesy to the Seminole chief 
who had first pitched his tent on the spot. She had 
much sympathy and affection for the Indians, often 
pleading their cause against some act of aggression or 
injustice, and they had a tender reverence for her, call- 
ing her frequently " the white dove of peace." 

One of the memorable events of her young life was 
the visit of Lafayette to America. It enters into the 
record of many lives that covered that period, some of 
which were far spent and some so tenderly youthful 
that the little marquis saluted them only by proxy, 
delegating somebody else " to kiss the babies" while he 
shook countless outstretched hands, for he was as com- 
plaisant as he was artistic. He wrote to the widow of 
his old friend, General George Walton, expressing a 
wish to see her during his stay in Mobile. Her health 
was not sufficiently robust, however, to admit of her 
undertaking a journey with the few comforts that were 
then possible. She sent her daughter-in-law and her 
granddaughter to represent her, intrusting to Octavia a 
miniature of her husband, the better to recall his fea- 

106 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

tures to Lafayette's memory and to enable him to 
realize how strong was the resemblance the little girl 
bore to her illustrious grandfather. She talked to him 
in French, so that the interview was to Lafayette a 
time of delightful relaxation, and it was with genuine 
reluctance that he saw it draw to a close. To Octavia 
it was the first in a long series of interesting memories 
associated with Mobile, whither her family removed 
from Florida in the year 1835. In the latter State, 
however, she spent the happy period of her young 
womanhood ; hence Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley, in 
some lines addressed to her at a later period, calls her 
" Sweet Rose of Florida." 

Pensacola was the naval station of the gulf coast, 
and the constant coming and going of men-of-war, with 
the attendant festivities of balls of welcome and fare- 
well banquets, were a distinctive feature in the social 
life of that portion of the Territory. 

Octavia Walton, the governor's daughter, cultivated 
intellectually to a degree that made her the appreciative 
listener and intelligent talker among men of science and 
of letters, and with a personal beauty that made her 
the admiration of every one, occupied from her earliest 
girlhood a position of unusual prominence. 

Long runs with her brother in the invigorating air 
of the coast had given to her supple figure, with its 
graceful curves, that erect carriage which she always re- 
tained. Her head was well poised, and her soft brown 
hair parted simply above a broad brow of unusual 

whiteness and transparency. In her blue eyes there 

107 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

lurked a suggestion of the cool and quiet depth of a 
forest, while her mouth, that feature which, says Oliver 
Wendell Holmes, we all make for ourselves, denoted 
the sweetness of her character. These were the visible 
forms of the loveliness of the young Octavia Walton, 
whom Frederika Bremer, the Swedish novelist, called 
" the magnolia flower of the South." 

In 1835, the year her family moved to Mobile, 
accompanied by her mother and brother, she made a 
tour of the United States, visiting during the summer 
the famous resort of the North, Saratoga Springs, and 
going to Washington after the assembling of Congress 
in December. She attained a fame during that year 
that made her the inspiration of poets noted for the 
beauty of their lyric verse, and the subject of several 
analytical writings. She formed during the same pe- 
riod the friendship of two of the most eminent men 
of that time, Washington Irving and Henry Clay. She 
met Irving in travelling, and discovered his identity in a 
singular way. It was three years after his return from 
Spain, where he had represented his country with so 
much dignity and ability that his welcome home had 
been much in the nature of an ovation. The stage- 
coach, in which so many pleasant acquaintances were 
made, was yet the usual means of transportation, though 
the duration of journeys had been greatly lessened by 
the successful introduction of the steamboat, in which 
enterprise Fulton already had competitors, one young 
Vanderbilt running a rival line on the Sound between 

New York and Providence. Irving, who had been on 

1 08 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

the dock when Fulton made the first experiment with 
his steamer, used to relate with exquisite humor how 
the breathless silence of the crowd of curious specta- 
tors who watched her puff off into the stream was 
broken by the voice of an incredulous man saying, 
" She may go well enough for a time, but give me a 
good sloop." Being singularly shy, he usually talked 
but little among strangers. Divining in the young girl, 
who sat opposite him in the stage-coach for several 
days during the summer of 1835, those same qualities 
" the sound and pure intellect and the heart full of 
affection" that so endeared her to Miss Bremer, he 
dropped frequently into the current of bright talk she 
kept up with her mother and brother. They specu- 
lated frequently upon his identity, for his appearance 
was unusual, his manner courtly, and his language that 
of a most cultivated man. While she was talking 
with her brother in Spanish one day, he joined in their 
conversation and related some incident in connection 
with a bull-fight he had seen when in Spain. Octavia 
had already heard the identical story from another 
source, and, connecting the two narrations, she ex- 
claimed, quickly, and quite unconsciously betraying the 
fact that his identity had been a matter of curiosity to 
her, " I know who you are ! You are Washington Ir- 
ving. Mr. Slidell, who related that story to me, told me 
that Washington Irving was standing beside him when 
it happened." Thus began a friendship that had an ex- 
tensive influence upon her life. Realizing how keen 

were her powers of observation, and how unusual her 

109 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

command of language, he advised her to keep a jour- 
nal, which was her first effort at writing, at which she 
attained later a leading position among women of let- 
ters at the South. He corresponded with her till the 
end of his life, and aided her with many suggestions 
gathered from his own experience in a long literary 
career. She in return shed many a ray of brightness 
over an existence that, with all its fame and success, was 
not without its lonely hours. The last time they met 
he reluctantly watched her departure from Sunnyside. 
" I feel, my child," he said, " that you are taking all 
the sunshine away with you." 

Henry Clay looked upon her with the same tender 
pride that characterized Irving's attitude towards her. 
The beauty of her feet being at one time a subject of 
comment in his presence, he said that, while he was not 
prepared to pass judgment upon them, he was proud to 
be able to bear testimony to a beauty of tongue that he 
considered without parallel. Like Irving's, his friend- 
ship for her knew no change during the remainder of 
his lifetime. When the corner-stone of the monument 
erected to his memory in New Orleans was laid, she 
delivered an address that was well worthy of the elo- 
quence of the man it eulogized. 

In 1836 Octavia Walton was married, in the city of 
Mobile, to Dr. Henry S. Le Vert, a son of Dr. Claud 
Le Vert, who, coming to America as surgeon of the 
fleet under Rochambeau, had remained there after the 
termination of hostilities, settling in Virginia, and mar- 
rying a niece of Admiral Vernon. As Madame Le 



no 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

Vert, Octavia Walton attained that same social sover- 
eignty that was achieved a few years later by Mrs. 
Rush, of Philadelphia, and at a still more recent period 
by Mrs. Astor, of New York. The same sort of in- 
stinctive tribute was everywhere accorded each of these 
women, raising her to an eminence in which she was 
sustained by the unusual order of the gifts with which 
she was endowed. In Mobile, so absolute was the 
leadership of Madame Le Vert that she was frequently 
designated simply as " Madame," it being everywhere 
understood that the title without the accompaniment 
of any name applied only to her. 

Her home on Government Street was the most noted 
of the city. There she entertained at various times 
not only the most distinguished of the people of her 
own country, but many eminent foreigners, Kossuth, 
among others, and Frederika Bremer. Lady Emmeline 
Stuart Wortley, the daughter of the Duke of Rutland, 
having been her guest for several weeks, gave her later 
that introduction that made possible the establishment 
of her social fame in England. 

Joseph Jefferson, growing up in the profession in 
which he now stands in the foremost rank, and in 
whom she early recognized the divine spark of genius, 
had frequent proofs of the kindliness of her hospitality. 

Her library was the feature of her home in which 
she always evinced the most interest. She never aban- 
doned those habits of study which kept her in touch 
with the progressive minds of the world. Beauty alone 
is not sufficient to give a woman the place Madame 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Le Vert filled. It attracts, but there must be behind it 
the sustaining force of an intelligence radiating sym- 
pathy, of a mentality developed and adorned with those 
graces that enable it to enter into and illuminate the 
lives that approach it. She continued to read in the 
foreign languages she had mastered in her early girl- 
hood, painstakingly teaching them to her children, 
whom, in their infancy, she often sung to sleep with 
the love ditties of Italy. To her husband she was a 
continual source of revelation and pride. Precise, 
practical, profoundly interested in his profession, he felt 
little interest in the purely fashionable element of the life 
that revolved about her. In her relationship to it, how- 
ever, her power to attract and hold such a diversity of 
tastes and temperaments he found an interesting study. 
At her levees and receptions it was his delight to take 
up his position where he could watch her, and, if possi- 
ble, where he could occasionally catch the sparkle of 
her words. 

To a nature keenly alive to every impression, the loss 
of her only brother, to whom she was attached by ties 
of an extraordinary sympathy, brought a grief that for 
a long time overshadowed her happy spirit. A few 
years after this loss, in June, 1 853, accompanied by 
her father and the elder of her daughters, she made her 
first visit to the Old World, whose treasures and re- 
sources her classical education had so ably fitted her to 
enjoy. Her journal and letters written during this 
period and a subsequent trip ring with the enthusiasm 
of a girl. They formed the basis of her first pub- 



112 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

lished work, which met with much success, for in those 
days the theme was fresher, and she handled it with a 
a sprightliness that gave individuality and interest to 
every page. Very graphically she relates how the first 
ardor with which she embarked upon the new and 
delightful experience of a transatlantic voyage was 
quenched by that unromantic malady, sea-sickness. 
With the memory of the torture fresh upon her, she 
wrote that Solomon, when he ejaculated, " O that 
mine enemy would write a book !" probably knew 
nothing of the agonies of sea-sickness, or he would 
rather have invoked that malady upon him. 

The London season was at its height when she 
arrived there. Well introduced, she created so favor- 
able an impression upon a society where the success of an 
American depends largely if not entirely upon personal 
merit as evinced by his or her good breeding, intelli- 
gence, and powers to entertain, that she experienced all 
the delights of a hospitality which to the uninitiated is 
cold and exclusive. She was presented to the Oueen at 
a court ball, to which she received the unusual honor of 
an invitation without a previous presentation to Her 
Majesty. With genuine regret she saw the days al- 
lotted to her stay in England draw to a close. Every- 
where, however, she found and made friends, many 
strangers recognizing in her, in all its strength and 
purity, that sympathy which makes the world akin, and 
involuntarily opening their hearts to her. She was in- 
tensely interested in every one and everything, so that 
her life never contracted. Her early memories were 

8 113 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

associated with the Spanish, and she never outgrew her 
appreciation for the grace of their civilization. Her 
ability to speak the language added much to the pleas- 
ure and profit of her visit to Spain, and her journal re- 
counting her stage-coach experiences contains frequent 
allusions to the unfailing courtesy of the people of that 
country. In Italy her knowledge of the language of 
the land again made her the spokesman of her little 
party, and with beneficial results. In Florence she had 
the pleasure of meeting the Brownings, and the interest 
they inspired in her seems to have been mutual. Mrs. 
Browning, whose health did not permit her to go out 
in the night air, broke the rule it had entailed upon her 
and went to a party given in honor of Madame Le Vert 
on the eve of -her departure, that she might once more 
have the pleasure of seeing and talking with her. 
During one of her visits to Rome she had one of those 
peculiar experiences that evinced the friendliness she 
everywhere inspired. She had gone with her daughter 
to St. Peter's to attend the ceremony known as the 
Apostle's banquet. At the termination of the exercises 
there began an awful struggle for liberty in the packed 
isles of the great church. Madame Le Vert was well- 
nigh overpowered, when suddenly she felt herself lifted 
from her feet, raised high in the air, and safely en- 
sconced on a window-ledge, while a reassuring voice 
whispered, in French, " There, little woman, don't be 
afraid ; you'll be safe there." Her rescuer was a pow- 
erful Russian woman, who, when she had placed Miss 

Le Vert beside her mother, said, simply, " Do not forget 

114 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

me when you think of the Apostle's banquet," and 
moved away with the surging crowd. 

In all her journeys, both in her own country and in 
Europe, she was accompanied by her colored maid 
Betsey. " North, South, East, and West," wrote one 
of her friends, " goes Betsey with her mistress through 
bristling ranks of abolitionists, up the Rhine, over the 
Alps, everywhere goes Betsey." 

" If you would see the ideal relationship between a 
lady and her female slave," said Frederika Bremer, " you 
should see Octavia Le Vert and her clever, handsome, 
mulatto attendant, Betsey. Betsey seems really not to 
live for anything else than for her mistress Octavia." 

At the Austrian border they were put through a series 
of questions, all of their responses " being recorded," 
said Madame Le Vert, " for the benefit of posterity." 
Betsey was put down as a Moor, much to her dismay, 
and she besought her mistress to assure them that she 
"had nothing but pure American blood in her veins, 
and was a slave from the South." 

During her second visit to Europe, in 1855, Madame 
Le Vert spent the summer in Paris, the governor of 
Alabama having named her Commissioner from that 
State to the Paris Exposition of that year. His gal- 
lantry was a frequent subject of comment and apprecia- 
tion, for she was the only woman among the commis- 
sioners. The position, however, seems to have been 
purely honorary, for she lamented that when asked to 
point out the products of Alabama in her department, 
she could only indicate her daughter. " If there had 

"5 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

been even only a few cotton-seed," she said, " it would 
at least have served to swear by." 

She witnessed the enthusiastic reception tendered by 
the French nation to the Queen of England, was pres- 
ent at the ball given by the Emperor in her honor, and 
was at the opera the night the royal party visited it, 
when the whole audience rose en masse at the first note 
of England's national anthem, sung by Roger, Alboni, 
and Cruvelli. She heard with a thrill of enthusiasm 
the " Vive la Reine Victoria" that burst from a thou- 
sand lips, and saw the Emperor lead the gracious queen 
three times to the front of the box to acknowledge the 
tumultuous tribute. In her own box sat, on that mem- 
orable night, an ex-President of the great republic across 
the water, Millard Fillmore. 

A visit made during her stay in Ferrara, Italy, to the 
home of the poet Ariosto so impressed Madame Le Vert 
that it was productive of a notable result after her 
return to America. His house had been purchased by 
the government, and everything in it was preserved in 
the order in which he had left it at the time of his 
death. Realizing that it was regarded as a shrine, and 
devoutly visited by those who would honor the mem- 
ory of the immortal poet, her thoughts reverted to the 
home of the great American general, Mount Vernon, 
then falling into decay, whereas it might be similarly 
preserved by the patriotism of the people. She took 
up the question earnestly after her return to America, 
and did for the cause at the South as much as Mrs. 
Harrison Gray Otis did for it at the North. In one day 

116 



OCTAVIA WALTON 

she received at her home in Mobile, in small contribu- 
tions, upward of a thousand dollars. 

Many of Madame Le Vert's most charming letters 
were written to her mother. After a long day of travel 
or sight-seeing she frequently sat up far into the night 
that she might not neglect the pleasant duty of writing 
these letters. 

Her parents' home in Mobile, of which city her 
father was for a time mayor, was near her own, and she 
continued to be much with them until their lives closed, 
which they did in close succession, shortly before the 
outbreak of the war. Her husband's death occurred 
during the last year of that melancholy period which 
shook the homes of the South to their foundation. 
She went North and remained for over a year after the 
close of the war, accompanied by her two daughters. 
She returned to the South for a time, but eventually 
removed to New York, disposing of her home and 
many of her possessions, the losses she had sustained 
and the altered conditions of her life rendering Mobile 
no longer to her a place of happy existence. 

Having been so long a leader, she continued to exer- 
cise various queenly prerogatives, which to many people 
at the North seemed eccentric. She had not the pres- 
tige there that would have made them possible, though 
she was never without her coterie of admirers. 

Her later years were not affluent, and she was obliged 
to put her talents to bread-winning purposes. She died 
in the city in which she had been born, Augusta, 

Georgia, on the 1 3th of March, 1877. 

117 



FANNY TAYLOR 

(MRS. THOMAS HARDING ELLIS) 

THE loveliness of Virginia women has been a 
theme of song and verse. Among the Rich- 
mond belles of sixty years ago none were more 
justly celebrated than that trio known as the Rich- 
mond Graces, Sally Chevalier, Fanny Taylor, and Sally 
Watson. Close companions from early childhood, 
their unusual beauty as they grew to womanhood 
brought them fame individually and collectively. Sally 
Chevalier became the wife of Abram Warwick, Sally 
Watson, of Alexander Rives, and Fanny Taylor, of 
whom this sketch is designed to treat at greater length, 
was twice married. She was educated at the excellent 
school of Miss Jane Mackenzie, in Richmond, at a time 
when a young lady's education embraced a rather su- 
perficial dip into the languages, a good deal of poetry, 
some history, a neat Italian handwriting, and a care of 
their peach-blossom complexions and slender hands. 
Frivolous as it sounds compared with the curriculum 
of girls' schools in good standing at this end of the 
century, the history of the South furnishes many evi- 
dences of the profundity as well as the brilliancy of its 
women. 

118 




Fanny Taylor 

(Mrs. Thomas Harding Ellis) 
From portrait by Thomas Sully 



FANNY TAYLOR 

With her friends, Sally Chevalier and Sally Watson, 
Fanny Taylor was a pupil in the dancing academies of 
Mr. Xaupi and Mr. Boisseau. They excelled in the 
grace and beauty of their dancing, and at the Assembly 
balls it was their custom to occupy places in the same 
cotillon. They enjoyed the delicate celebrity of having 
pieces of dancing-music named after them, and when 
" Sally Chevalier," " Fanny Taylor," or " Sally Wat- 
son," was called for, Judah, Ruffin, and Lomax, those 
dusky magnates of the ball-room, brought forth the 
melody with an air that was their own peculiar tribute 
to the fair young queens. 

About the time she reached maturity, Fanny Taylor 
removed with her mother from Richmond to " Glen- 
arron," the superb James River estate of her brother- 
in-law, Mr. William Gait. Shortly afterwards she re- 
turned to Richmond, where she spent a winter as the 
guest of her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Warwick. She be- 
came noted as the most beautiful woman in the Old 
Dominion. In a word, she was the belle of Richmond, 
which boasted the most delightful society in the South, 
and she would not have exchanged places with a prin- 
cess of the royal house of England. 

Richmond of those days was too small for social 
divisions and subdivisions. There was but one set, and 
every one who went into society at all belonged to it. 
It was well established and conservative. Its traditions 
were ancient, and it tolerated no innovations. It had 
its calling hours from twelve till four, when its drawing- 
rooms were crowded with young men from the neigh- 

119 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

boring plantations, professional men, and legislators, on 
whose ears the tones of the Capitol bell announcing 
the opening of the session were wont to fall in vain. 
There were dancing-parties for young people, beginning 
at seven or eight in the evening, and dinner-parties for 
distinguished guests at four o'clock in the afternoon. 

The graceful art of carving formed an indispensable 
part of a gentleman's education, and a host gave tan- 
gible proof of his hospitality when from his end of the 
table he served his guests with his own hand, selecting 
the choice parts of a joint or fowl for the guest of 
honor. 

The ladies retired at the conclusion of dinner, leaving 
the gentlemen in possession of the table, being a cus- 
tom of their English forefathers which their colonial 
antecedents had adhered to probably in the log-cabin 
days when there was a state occasion. 

There were no teas and no debuts. Girls never 
came out, because, as Thomas Nelson Page has said, 
" they had never been in." As soon as they were old 
enough to be out of the nursery they drifted naturally 
into the drawing-room, and there grew up in that social 
sphere which many of them were destined later to sway 
as queens. 

Within a year after her reign in Richmond society 
Fanny Taylor became the wife of Archibald Morgan 
Harrison, of Fluvanna County, a most distinguished 
agriculturist, at a time when it was worth being a Vir- 
ginia farmer and a country gentleman. They lived at 
" Carysbrook," Mr. Harrison's estate on the Rivanna 



120 



FANNY TAYLOR 

River, in the royal style easily possible to the South in 
her days of prosperity. She was a great-granddaughter 
of Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of 
Independence, and her husband was a great-grandson of 
Benjamin Harrison, the father of Benjamin the signer. 
Their life of pastoral beauty closed with Mr. Harrison's 
death. His widow was at the height of her love- 
liness, and when she went once more into the world 
she evoked the most unstinted and genuine admiration. 
Mrs. Nellie Custis Lewis, who was expending on her 
motherless grandchildren all the solicitude that her 
grandmother, Martha Washington, had lavished upon 
her when she was similarly bereaved, expressed the 
desire that her son-in-law should woo Mrs. Harrison. 
So truly did she admire the qualities of her character, 
as well as her great personal beauty, that she was the 
only woman she had ever seen, she said, whom she 
would welcome as her daughter's successor, and wil- 
lingly see placed over her grandchildren. She never 
had an opportunity to extend that magnanimous, how- 
ever cordial, greeting, for the youthful Mrs. Harrison, 
after six years of widowhood, bestowed her hand upon 
Colonel Thomas Harding Ellis, of Richmond. He 
had been secretary of the American legation at Mexico, 
and was subsequently for nearly fourteen years presi- 
dent of the James River and Kanawha Canal Company, 
his administration covering the period of the war, when 
the canal was the most important line of improvement 
in the State for supplying with agricultural produce the 
city of Richmond and the army of Northern Virginia. 



121 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

They visited Washington shortly after their mar- 
riage, where they were guests of Mr. John Y. Mason. 
Mr. Mason presented them to President and Mrs. Polk, 
whose courtesies to them added much to the pleasure 
of the Washington chapter of their honeymoon days. 

Mrs. Ellis's mother had stood at the bedside of her 
uncle William Henry Harrison when, in the presence 
of his cabinet, he uttered those memorable last words, 
" I desire the principles of the Constitution to be main- 
tained." 

The union of Colonel and Mrs. Ellis terminated with 
the death of Mrs. Ellis in July, 1897, followed, in a 
few months, by that of her husband. For nearly fifty 
years had they traversed life's highlands and lowlands 
together, closest companions, tenderest of lovers, she 
possessing all the strength not incompatible with the 
finest and gentlest traits of female character, and retain- 
ing to the last all the delicacy of her wonderful beauty, 
and he the embodiment of chivalry, the highest type 
of a Virginia gentleman of the old regime. 



122 




Sally Chevalier 

(Mrs. Abram Warwick) 

By Thomas Sully 



JESSIE BENTON 

(MRS. JOHN c. FREMONT) 

IN the year 1868 the city of St. Louis erected a 
monument to the memory of one of her most dis- 
tinguished citizens, Thomas Hart Benton. Of the 
forty thousand people who thronged the park on that 
May afternoon set aside for its unveiling, but one was 
of the great man's blood, the daughter most closely 
associated with the accomplishment of his loftiest con- 
ception, that dream of Western empire for his country. 
Accompanied by her husband, General John C. Fre- 
mont, she had accepted the invitation to unveil the 
statue. As she pulled the cord that loosened its wrap- 
pings, and the school children of the city threw their 
offerings of roses at the feet of him who had befriended 
their fathers, the huzzas of the vast multitude filled the 
fragrant air. The outgoing train to San Francisco 
halted to salute with flags and whistles as the bronze 
hand, pointing to the west, came into view, and the 
words graven on the pedestal : " There is the East. 
There lies the road to India." To General Fremont, 
quietly and reverently occupying a place of honor on 
the platform, it was one of those supreme moments 

when the landmarks of memory, those events that give 

123 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

color to our lives, stand forth to the exclusion even of 
that which is at the moment passing before the eye. 
Neither the vivas of the people nor the flowers of their 
children thrilled him as did the salute of that out- 
bound train, that thing of strength and power and 
speed, bearing its message of progress and civilization. 

He knew every mile of its route. He, the path- 
finder, by his indomitable energy had traversed the vir- 
gin snows of its mountain ways, had penetrated the mys- 
teries of its wild valleys, and by his valor had given to 
his country its golden terminus. And there, between 
the effigy of the one in the radiance of the spring 
sunshine and the living man, stood the woman 
still radiant with that high type of beauty that ema- 
nates from the soul, the link, she has said of herself, 
between the conception and the execution of the great 
scheme of Western aggrandizement. Cradled among 
great ideas, she had grown up to be an inspiration to 
the man with the prowess and daring necessary to give 
them life and form. Some men, such as Abraham 
Lincoln, have been great in spite of their wives, while 
to others, as to Fremont, through their wives have come 
not only the opportunity for greatness, but with them 
that identity of purpose that in itself is a fortification 
against all adverse circumstances. 

The story of Jessie Benton Fremont's life is closely 
allied with that of the acquisition and development of 
the vast territory west of St. Louis, which even in her 
young womanhood was the outpost of habitation. Be- 
yond its confines stretched that wonderland of her 

124 



JESSIE BENTON 

childhood, whence came the trappers and hunters with 
their wild tales of adventure, and whither she was des- 
tined to follow one day the princely pied piper of her 
girlhood. The seed of the thought which bore its first 
fruit when Fremont raised our flag on Wind River 
Mountain, thirteen thousand feet above the Gulf of 
Mexico, was sown in the mind of her father when, in 
1812, he followed Andrew Jackson from Nashville to 
New Orleans to defend the Mississippi. In the stirring 
life on its broad bosom, together with a first realization 
of the extent of our domain, he recognized the possi- 
bilities of our future expansion and greatness. He 
had already been admitted to the bar of Tennessee and 
was a member of the Legislature of that State. With 
the idea, however, that the government of the United 
States should extend its protecting arm over the great 
western wilderness, in which it evinced no interest and 
whence it anticipated no benefit, he moved, in his thir- 
tieth year, to its border-land. 

Its people recognized his friendly attitude, and when 
Missouri rose to the dignity of a representation on the 
floor of the United States Senate, Benton was the first 
man to whom she delegated that honor. There, for 
over thirty years, with a limited following, he fought 
aggressively foot by foot for the development of the 
West. He often wearied his hearers, who had but little 
sympathy with projects that to the remote Eastern mind 
seemed preposterous. It was not infrequently a signal, 
when Benton mounted his hobby, for his fellow-Sena- 
tors to take up their letter- writing and for the galleries 

125 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

to be deserted. It made little difference to them if 
England's hand were outstretched and her fingers daily 
tightening their clutch upon our northwestern territory. 
The mouth of the Columbia River was about of as 
much consequence to the welfare of the United States, 
in the estimation of the people on the Atlantic sea- 
board, as are the canals on the planet Mars. 

Commercial relations with Asia and ports on the 
Pacific, however Utopian they may have seemed to 
others with less of a grasp on the world's history than 
his scholarly mind possessed, were to Benton vital ques- 
tions, for which he fought with that vigor of utterance 
that provoked John Randolph into saying that his 
family motto, " Factus non verbis," should be " Factus 
et verbis." 

He was a powerful man, with a forcible way of 
speaking, which he retained to the end of his life. 
When he was stumping his State in the summer of 
1856, being already in his seventieth year, he was cau- 
tiously viewed one morning through the crack of an 
open door by two anti-Bentonites. He was standing 
at the moment and speaking in a vigorous way that ap- 
palled his surreptitious visitors. " Good God," ejaculated 
one, " we shall have to fight him these twenty years !" 

He was a striking figure, with heavy black hair and 
side whiskers, and during all the years that he was in 
the Senate, like some of his illustrious successors, he 
never changed the style of his dress. His vehemence 
was expended in public. In his family life he was as 

gentle as he was devoted. 

126 



JESSIE BENTON 

Jessie, the second of his four daughters, and the sub- 
ject of this sketch, was born at the home of her mater- 
nal grandfather, Colonel James McDowell, near Lex- 
ington, Virginia. She grew up partly in the picturesque 
atmosphere of St. Louis, then almost wholly a French 
settlement, and partly in Washington, where Benton's 
home was considered one of the most interesting in the 
city, owing to the cultivated wife and daughters who 
gave it character and individuality. Intermingled with 
her school-days she had her little day of belleship, 
during which the two most notable events were a 
dinner at the White House, given by President Van 
Buren for his young son, and the wedding of Baron 
Bodisco, the Russian minister, at which she appeared as 
first bridesmaid. The bride, Miss Williams, was one 
of her school-mates, and a girl of sixteen, while the 
bridegroom was over sixty. The details of the cere- 
mony, however, were all harmoniously arranged by 
him, and included eight bridesmaids between the ages 
of thirteen and sixteen, and eight groomsmen of his 
own period of life. With one of the most distin- 
tinguished, James Buchanan, then in the United States 
Senate, and but recently returned from the Russian mis- 
sion, walked Jessie Benton, fourteen years of age, and 
in her first long dress. Judged by his last will, this 
Russian January seems to have been an unselfish hus- 
band, for he therein expressed the wish that his still 
young wife should marry again and be as happy herself 
as she had made him. 

The Van Buren dinner was a more or less memor- 

127 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

able event, though the White House was familiar 
ground to Jessie Benton. During Jackson's adminis- 
tration she used frequently to go there with her father, 
for the old soldier-President was notably a lover of chil- 
dren. He liked to run his long fingers through her 
soft curls, while he talked with his old friend Benton, 
unwittingly giving the curls many a twist as he warmed 
to his subject, all of which the little girl bore heroically, 
finding ample recompense in her father's praise, which 
was sure to follow the ordeal. 

She went to school both in St. Louis and Washing- 
ton, in the former city principally for the sake of learn- 
ing French by association with children to whom it 
was the mother-tongue. She spent two years at Miss 
English's boarding-school, in Georgetown, where she 
was not regarded as a diligent student. Many hours 
stolen from the class-rooms were not, perhaps, alto- 
gether unprofhably spent up a mulberry-tree listening 
to the fascinating accounts of a midshipman's life, as 
told by one of his cousins, and hanging hungrily upon 
every word, as if it in a measure foretold her own event- 
ful career. 

At home her mental training was continuous, and 
without conscious, or at least arduous, effort on her part. 
Each of Benton 's daughters had her place at his library 
table, and there, stimulated by his studious habits, she 
acquired readily her portion of that vast fund of knowl- 
edge which he had gleaned first from his father's library 
of unusual excellence and later from his contact with 

men and measures of his day. 

128 



JESSIE BENTON 

Of the measures there were many afoot when Ben- 
ton's daughters were young, whose stupendous propor- 
tions we are scarcely able to gauge, knowing them only 
in the perfection of their full realization. Benton was 
the sympathetic friend of all progress, and beneath the 
steady glow of his astral lamp or the soft flicker of 
their mother's candles, in the nights before the advent 
of gas, his daughters, sewing each her fine seam, 
listened to the unfolding of the minds of the men who 
have developed America. They learned also those 
lessons of inexhaustible patience that must go hand 
in hand with every great undertaking and of the fre- 
quent subordination of the individual to the things his 
own mind has conceived. 

Thither came Morse with that sublime faith in his 
conception of telegraphy that made him insensible or 
at least indifferent to the ridicule of Congress, where a 
member suggested, when he at length obtained his 
twenty-five thousand dollars for an experimental line to 
Baltimore, that a second appropriation should be made 
for an experimental line to the moon. 

An overland emigrant route, the surveys for a rail- 
road to the Pacific, and the Panama Railroad, Stevens 
coming to them directly from Central America and 
going later to the Isthmus, were some of the vast 
projects with whose details they were early familiarized. 
Later, when Jessie Benton, as Mrs. Fremont, crossed 
the Isthmus herself and was detained there by the fever, 
she saw Stevens every day, he coming, as he said, " to 
take his chill with her." He died in Panama, as he 
9 129 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

predicted that he would, one of the heroes in the van- 
guard of progress. 

Into Benton's home quite naturally there drifted, in 
the year 1840, a young lieutenant of the corps of topo- 
graphical engineers, fresh from the survey of the upper 
Mississippi. The son of a French father and a Vir- 
ginia mother, John C. Fremont was born in South 
Carolina, in the year 1813. He was graduated, when 
he was seventeen years old, from Charleston College, 
where he remained to study civil engineering and teach 
mathematics. He was so unusually talented that 
Poinsett, the Secretary of War, recommended his ser- 
vices to Nicollet when the latter was about to under- 
take the survey of the Upper Mississippi. The two 
years in the field were followed by two years spent in 
Washington in preparing the scientific result of the 
expedition, during which period Benton became inter- 
ested more perhaps in the work than in the individ- 
uality of the young officer, whose genius was later to 
open to us the western gates of our republic. 

Accompanying Benton's eldest daughter to a concert 
at Miss English's school, Fremont for the first time 
met Jessie Benton. She produced on his mind at once 
" the effect that a rose of rare color or a beautiful pic- 
ture would have done." She was but sixteen years old 
at the time, in the first bloom of girlish beauty, and 
her bright mind exhilarated by the pleasure of seeing 
her sister, poured itself forth in language as sparkling 
as it was natural. " Her beauty," he wrote later, in 
describing that first impression of her, " had come far 

130 



JESSIE BENTON 

enough down from English ancestry to be now in her 
that American kind which is made up largely of mind 
expressed in the face, but it still showed its Saxon 
descent. At that time of awakening mind, the quali- 
ties that made hers could only be seen in flitting 
shadows across the face or in the expression of incip- 
ient thought or unused and untried feeling." 

Coming home for the Easter holidays, she found that 
the young lieutenant had become identified with her 
father's " Oregon work." He was an almost daily vis- 
itor at her home, and in his constant meetings with 
her in its unreserved atmosphere he found confirmation 
of the first impression he had formed of her. " There 
are features," he wrote later, " that convey to us a soul 
so white that they impress with instant pleasure, and 
of this kind were hers. Her qualities were all womanly, 
and education had curiously preserved the down of a 
modesty which was innate. There had been no ex- 
perience of life to brush away the bloom." 

Before the holidays were over this impression of her 
had penetrated Fremont's entire being, and he loved 
her no less profoundly than he admired her, rendering 
her an absolute devotion that knew no subsequent dim- 
inution. " Insensibly and imperceptibly," he said, 
" there came a glow into my heart which changed the 
current and color of daily life, and gave a beauty to 
common things." 

That April day in 1841, when, a month after it had 
witnessed his inauguration, a mourning nation assem- 
bled to pay its last tribute to William Henry Harrison, a 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

gray and gloomy day without, Fremont has recorded as 
the " red letter day" of his life. The government had 
leased quarters near the Capitol for the use of Nicollet, 
where the work on the map of the Mississippi's sources 
was going forward. From the windows of one of the 
rooms Senator Benton and his family were invited to 
view the funeral procession as it wound down Cap- 
itol Hill. Fremont, on leave of absence for the day, 
was the host of the occasion. Notwithstanding his 
best uniform, in which he looked very handsome, he 
personally tended the cheery log-fire, that gave a touch 
of cosiness to the big office, which he had, moreover, 
with somewhat reckless extravagance for a man on a 
lieutenant's salary, decorated with plants and cut flowers. 
From a daintily set table he served, with captivating 
grace, coffee and ices. Though the nation mourned, 
two hearts, at least, of all who looked upon the solemn 
pageant of that day were in gala attire. 

The next day, though he discreetly sent Mrs. Benton 
the plants and flowers that had done decorative duty in 
his office, it availed him nothing in her wise eyes. Jes- 
sie was too young, and, besides, she did not wish her to 
marry an army man ; the life was too unsettled. Mrs. 
Poinsett, the wife of the Secretary of War, was taken 
into her confidence, and, as a result, Fremont was or- 
dered off to survey the Des Moines River. Jessie, 
moreover, as a further diversion, was taken to the wed- 
ding of one of her Virginia cousins, which meant in 
those days weeks of festivity. 

It was but another case, however, of the best laid 

132 



JESSIE BENTON 

plans that " gang aglee," for in the autumn both Fre- 
mont and Jesse Benton were back in Washington, and 
on the i gth of October she was courageous enough, in 
defiance of both father and mother, whom she not only 
loved but truly revered, to become Fremont's wife. 
She married too young, she says herself, ever to have 
been a belle in the usual acceptation of that term, yet 
so gifted has she been with those qualities that evoke 
the chivalry of man that but few American women 
have had a better right to that title. Though her life 
has been one of much exposure, she herself has at all 
times been singularly sheltered. 

The year following his marriage, Fremont applied to 
the Secretary of War for permission to explore the far 
West and penetrate the Rockies. The plan was sup- 
ported by Benton, who believed that by making surveys 
the government would be giving at least a semblance 
of protection to its Western possessions. Congress gave 
its sanction, and in May, 1842, with a handful of ven- 
turesome spirits gathered on the Missouri frontier, Fre- 
mont went forth to the exploration of the southern 
pass. It was the first of numerous similar expeditions, 
his scientific reports of which going into astronomy, 
botany, mineralogy, geology, and geography were 
translated into many tongues, and gave their author 
world-wide fame. 

During his absences, which were always of uncertain 
duration, his wife sometimes remained in her parents' 
home. Her father sent for her one morning, when she 
had been married about a year, and, pointing out her 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

old place at his library table, he said, " I want you to 
resume your place there ; you are too young to fritter 
away your life without some useful pursuit." So she 
dropped back quite naturally into her old habits 
of study, as if her honeymoon days had been but 
another form of vacation. 

She frequently accompanied Fremont, however, as 
far as St. Louis, waiting there for his return, or going 
out again to meet him after a fixed time. He was once 
eight months overdue, during which period of awful 
silence and suspense she had a supper-table set for 
him every night with all the comforts and luxuries of 
that civilization to which he had been so long a stranger. 
He came at length, in the dead of the night, and, rather 
than disturb a household, he went to a hotel, and for 
the first time in eighteen months slept in a bed. 

With whatever misgivings she may have seen him set 
out for a field where he would encounter certainly many 
dangers, and possibly even death, she never, even when 
the opportunity came, of which many a weaker woman 
would have availed herself, endeavored to withhold him 
from his purpose. He would sometimes, after having 
covered many miles of his route, come back to her for 
another good-by, overtaking his party again by hard 
riding or pressing forward while they were resting. 

In the summer of 1843, wn ^ e ne was st M on tne 
frontier gathering together men and animals for his 
second expedition, his recall to Washington was or- 
dered, to explain there why, making a scientific expe- 
dition under the protection of the government, he had 

134 



JESSIE BENTON 

armed his men with the howitzer. The order, how- 
ever, never reached him, for he had already left St. Louis, 
where it fell into the hands of his wife. Though she 
still labored under the depression of their recent parting, 
she yet, with all the spirit which the emergency de- 
manded, sent him a swift messenger, bidding him hurry 
off and rest and fatten his animals at Bent's Ford, stating 
that there was sufficient reason for the haste which could 
not then be given. 

When he was quite beyond the reach of recall, for 
it was before the days of telegraphy, she wrote to the 
colonel of the Topographical Bureau, and confessed 
what she had done, at the same time giving ample 
reason for her action. To have obeyed the order, she 
explained, would have meant the ruin of the expedi- 
tion. Together with the time it would have required 
to settle the party before he could leave it, the length 
of the trip to Washington, and the inevitable delays 
there, the early grass would be past its best, and t'he ani- 
mals thus would be thrown underfed into the moun- 
tains for the winter. She then replied to the charge 
made against Fremont in the order of his recall. The 
expedition must cross the country of the Blackfeet and 
other unfriendly tribes of Indians, with no reverence 
whatever for the cause of science, but with a very whole- 
some regard for any rights that were backed up with a 
howitzer. Her father, who was absent from St. Louis 
at the time, endorsed her action, and wrote to Wash- 
ington, assuming the responsibility for it, saying he 
would call for a court-martial on the point charged 

135 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

against Fremont. Nothing further was heard of it, 
however, and the precious time, that meant so much 
more to the scientific mind of the explorer than to his 
government, to which all seasons are the same, was saved. 

From an historical point of view this was the most 
important of all Fremont's expeditions. With the 
French territory which we had acquired by the Louisi- 
ana purchase we inherited also France's old feud with 
England, the underlying cause of which was the con- 
trol of the markets in the East. When we took up 
the cudgels, their conflict, so far as the Western hemi- 
sphere was involved, had narrowed down to the ulti- 
mate possession of that portion of Mexico's territory 
which included the harbor of San Francisco. England 
had already made her survey of the ground, and her 
eye coveted that matchless port. She was the power 
we confronted in California when our war with Mexico 
ushered in the moment for decisive action. Two cour- 
ageous, intensely American men, however, held the situ- 
ation in their grasp, in the Senate, at the climax of his 
powers, Benton, who had ever had a jealous eye upon 
England's encroachments on our boundary ; in the 
field, Fremont, with all the gallantry and spirit that 
final coup demanded. 

The British admiral, moving with more deliberation 
than the American colonel, with characteristic love of 
sport and appreciation of success, gracefully accepted 
his defeat, and tendered his felicitations to the intrepid 
rival, whose flag he found already floating above the 
coveted territory. 

136 



JESSIE BENTON 

Fremont, after his gallant conquest, became the vic- 
tim of a quarrel between two officers commanding the 
United States forces in that vicinity, and was brought 
back a prisoner over the territory he had acquired for 
his country. During the ninety days of his trial by 
court-martial, which stripped him of his commission as 
lieutenant-colonel of mounted riflemen, inspired by a 
lofty enthusiasm, his nights were devoted to writing 
the history of the expedition. 

Though he was reinstated by the President, he re- 
turned his commission, and in 1848 took out a private 
expedition, opening the route from the Mississippi to 
San Francisco. His mountaineers flocked to him, 
ready to follow wherever he should lead. He had that 
faith in himself and in his purpose that evoked a cor- 
responding confidence in them, and his presence was 
light and warmth and refreshment to their daring 
spirit. When it became necessary at times to divide 
the party, those who were not with him suffered sorely. 
The memorable winter of 1848, however, was one of 
hardships for all, travelling days and weeks within sight 
of eternal snows. Fremont wrote to his wife during a 
brief respite from that agonizing period, when his men 
were starving and freezing and wandering off in despair 
to lie down alone and die : " We shall yet enjoy quiet 
and happiness together ; these are nearly one and the 
same to me now. I make frequent pleasant pictures 
of the happy home we are to have, and oftenest and 
among the pleasantest of all I see our library with its 
bright fire in the rainy, stormy days, and the large win- 

137 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

dows looking out upon the sea in the bright weather. 
I have it all planned in my mind." 

Mrs. Fremont was, meanwhile, making ready for the 
long journey towards the land of this picture-home. 
It was the first break from the real home, her father's, 
where she had passed the greater part of the eight years 
of her married life, five of which her husband had spent 
in the field. She started in March, 1849, g om g by- 
way of the Isthmus, where the man selected by Mr. 
Aspinwall for her guide had many misgivings about 
undertaking the charge. He had a wife, who had 
prophesied that, coming from Washington, Mrs. Fre- 
mont would be " a fine lady" and would make him no 
end of trouble, especially concerning the scant attire 
of the Indians. 

In the sunshine of her presence, however, his mis- 
givings melted away. She was not a " fine lady" at all, 
he said, that bugbear of his unconventional mind, but 
a slender woman with a head so level and a heart so 
stout as to render all the more forcible the appeal of 
her delicate body. 

She was stricken with the fever, and ill for many 
weeks in Panama, where she was surrounded with that 
warmth of friendship and sympathy which she ever 
seemed to attract. In addition to many substantial 
evidences of genuine interest in her recovery, one resi- 
dent of the city vowed in that event to supply the hos- 
pital with limes for a year. 

Gold was discovered in California in 1848 When 
Mrs. Fremont arrived in San Francisco the people were 

138 



JESSIE BENTON 

in that first frenzy of excitement that disturbed tempo- 
rarily the whole aspect of their daily existence. The 
population of the towns was flocking to the mines, and 
the comparatively few who remained at home had many 
novel problems to face. The art of cooking without 
eggs and butter had to be acquired, for there were 
neither chickens nor cows, though one woman had as 
many as thirty-seven satin dresses, " and no two off the 
same piece," she averred. 

A little Eastern bride, whom San Francisco society, 
consisting of sixteen ladies, turned out in a body to 
welcome, set up her first household belongings in a 
modest frame structure two stories in height, that had 
been put up at a cost, out of all proportion to its in- 
trinsic value, of ninety thousand dollars. 

Yet nothing was so valuable as time, and though it 
was estimated to be worth fifty dollars a minute, there 
were busy men who paid Mrs. Fremont the compli- 
ment of frequent day-time visits 

With every personal inducement to favor slave labor 
in the new territory, both Fremont and his wife were 
among its most strenuous opposers. Not only did they 
pay their first house-maid two hundred and forty dollars 
a month with perquisites, which included the housing 
of her husband and children, yet even with a disposi- 
tion to retain her at that neat figure, they found them- 
selves obliged to do without her truly valuable assist- 
ance when Mrs. Fremont refused the loan of her gowns 
as patterns for the wardrobe she was having constructed 
at the hands of a Chinese modiste. There were, more- 

139 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

over, on the lands that Fremont owned, rich gold de- 
posits, which could be most profitably operated by slave 
labor. 

When the convention to draft the constitution under 
which California should come into the Union met at 
Monterey, where Fremont had established himself, his 
home became the head-quarters for the anti-slavery party. 
Its neatness, the smoothness of its internal workings, 
and the evident contentment of his wife formed a text 
for the friends of free soil, and many an incredulous 
opponent was brought to behold, and, seeing, went 
away believing in the possibility of domestic happiness 
without slaves. Mrs. Fremont had, to be sure, a pref- 
erence for underclothing that had been ironed, and 
she might have wished also that the two Indian men 
who presided in her kitchen and pantry had not been 
gifted with such facilities for terminating both the orna- 
mental and useful career of her china and glassware. 
Yet these small clouds in no way overshadowed her 
domestic horizon. Her prejudice to slavery she inher- 
ited from both parents, belonging, as she said, " to the 
aristocracy of emancipation," or to that class of people 
who, owning slaves, quietly gave them their freedom at 
infinite sacrifice to themselves, as opposed to the aboli- 
tionists of the North, who, with nothing to lose and 
much to gain, clamored noisily for that freedom. 

Fremont was the hero of the hour, and could have 
been governor of the new State or one of its first Sen- 
ators. He chose the latter, however, though it took 

him away from those material interests which California 

140 



JESSIE BENTON 

then held for him. Going into the Union as a free 
State, it would need in Congress a defence such as no 
man could give it with greater loyalty than Fremont. 

There is an anecdote told and applied indiscrimi- 
nately to various political heroes, most frequently, per- 
haps, to Lincoln, to whom, therefore, it may possibly 
appertain, demonstrating delicately his deference for 
the marital tie. On the night of his election to some 
office, and while he was being inundated with the con- 
gratulations of the friends who had assisted in the 
achievement of his triumph, he further captivated their 
fancy by remembering his wife. " Well, gentlemen," 
he said, quietly, " this is very nice, but there is a little 
woman around the corner who will be interested in 
hearing this news, and if you will just excuse me, I 
think I'll step around and tell her." 

One woman interested in the balloting of the dele- 
gates at San Jose for California's first Senators was not 
so conveniently situated. She was at Monterey, and 
as a' season of heavy rains was on, there was but little 
prospect that her keen desire to know the result would 
find immediate gratification. Before just such a merry 
blazing fire as his imagination had once conjured up as 
a central feature of their library sat Fremont's wife, 
her fingers for the first time fashioning a dress for her- 
self on the trustworthy outlines of one that had been 
ripped up for the purpose. Her little daughter had 
been put to bed, and her companions for the evening 
were the Australian woman who had replaced her two 

Indian servitors, and whose accustomed fingers plied 

141 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

the needle with a more rapid stroke than her own, and 
the woman's baby, playing on the bear-skin rug near 
the fire. Besides the voice of the woman and an occa- 
sional chirrup from the baby, she heard nothing but the 
storm without, till the door opened and a man, drip- 
ping with rain, stood on the threshold and asked, in 
consideration of his sorry plight, if he might enter. 

It was Fremont. He had torn himself away from 
his idolizing followers and ridden out into the darkness 
and storm to tell his wife, seventy miles away, that he 
had been elected to the United States Senate. Though 
it was late in the night when he reached Monterey, he 
was in the saddle again before dawn and on his way 
back to San Jose, making in all a ride of one hundred 
and forty miles. 

The home-bound steamer, sailing from San Francisco 
on the 1st of January, 1850, carried, among others, 
the first two Senators from the new State, Fremont and 
Givin. At Mazatlan a British man-of-war fired a 
salute in honor of these two distinguished passengers. 

They landed in New York the last of March, and 
from the long mirror into which she looked, in her 
hotel bedroom, there gazed back at Mrs. Fremont a 
comely young woman clad in a riding habit that had 
been abbreviated to a convenient walking length, a pair 
of black satin slippers, a leghorn hat tied down with a 
China crepe scarf, and a Scotch plaid shawl that had 
borne the brunt of her year's outing, in a word, the 
wife of a United States Senator from the golden West. 

On another morning of the early spring two years 

142 



JESSIE BENTON 

later, such were the contrasts which the events of her 
life produced, she stood in the throne-room of Buck- 
ingham Palace, awaiting presentation to the Queen of 
England. To the British eyes that looked upon her 
she was a graceful, distinguished woman, sharing in the 
renown of her husband, the American explorer, and a 
recent medallist of the Royal Geographical Society, 
whose honors are only conferred upon those whose 
expeditions are taken out at personal cost and sacrifice. 
In the faultless details of her court dress she was a 
gratification to the most critical taste. Its exquisite 
design, shading in color from the faint pink that touches 
the outer edge of a rose petal to the deeper tone it 
assumes near the heart, with clusters of the fair flower 
itself giving it an almost fragrant emphasis and bring- 
ing out the delicate beauty of her fine face, seemed a 
part of herself, so gracefully did she wear it, carrying its 
sweep of train with a queenliness that was of her nature. 
On the lyth of June, 1856, Fremont was unani- 
mously nominated for the Presidency by the National 
Republican Convention at Philadelphia. He was the 
first choice of the Free Soil, which became, later, the 
Republican party, and he was also, probably, the only 
man of whom Lincoln, the first successful candidate of 
that party, was ever jealous. Fearing a military rival, 
and recognizing in Fremont the qualities that gave him 
a natural supremacy among men, he kept him in the 
background. He foresaw correctly. The military hero 
came, but he came in the person of the man to whom 
opportunity had been a fairy god-mother. 

143 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Though he polled the vote of all the Northern States 
but five, the time was not ripe for a Republican Presi- 
dent when Fremont was a candidate for that high 
honor. The men, like Benton, who still led the politi- 
cal thought of that day, and who knew every aspect 
of the country, realizing the peril that lay in counte- 
nancing sectionalism, could not give their support to a 
candidate who stood upon a sectional platform. 

Whatever were his hopes or his disappointment, his 
wife shared them. His accepting the nomination from 
so radical a party had meant the breaking up of many 
friendships for her, which in itself was a genuine grief 
to a woman of her temperament. The anguish she 
endured during the first months of the war between 
the North and the South, which she spent in St. Louis 
among familiar faces, whom the circumstances of her 
position as the wife of a Northern general had es- 
tranged from her, left its record in her beautiful hair, 
which, from a warm brown, became quite white within 
a few weeks. No matter with what heroism we endure, 
we sometimes bear all the rest of our lives the scars 
which our courage has cost us. 

She has never outgrown, however, her early attach- 
ment to the South, to which she is united by many ties 
of blood. During the famine there that followed the 
war she applied to Congress for relief, which was imme- 
diately granted, with a ship to carry all the supplies the 
Freedman's Bureau could furnish. With warm and 
tender sympathies she has always taken up any cause 

that appealed to her with an enthusiasm that communi- 

144 



JESSIE BENTON 

cated itself to others. Relating to Mrs. Dix one even- 
ing the case of one of Lieutenant Fremont's men, who 
had been disabled by being wounded in both legs, and 
to whom Congress had refused a pension on the ground 
that he had not been regularly enlisted at the time the 
wound was inflicted, she did not observe that a man 
who was calling upon Senator Dix was attentively lis- 
tening to all the graphic details of her story. It was 
Preston King, of New York, and at that time chair- 
man of the Committee on Appropriations. He took 
Senator Dix to the door with him when he left, and 
bade him tell her to write out the story as she had just 
told it and send it to him, and he would see that the 
man got his pension ; and he did. 

With what tender gratitude and reverence the man 
himself, Alexis Ayot, a Canadian by birth, came to 
thank her ! 

" I cannot kneel to thank you," he said, balancing 
himself upon his crutches, " Je n'ai plus de jambes ; 
but you are my Sainte Madonne, et je vous fais ma 
priere." 

During her early California days she extended her 
generous young hand to a youthful compositor who 
was working on the Golden Era. He dined with 
her every Sunday, and she gave him not only that 
recognition and encouragement that were in themselves 
a stimulus to his talent and ambition, but she used her 
influence to obtain for him salaried offices that lifted 
him above anxiety concerning his material condition, 
and gave him the leisure necessary to the best devel- 

10 145 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

opment of his genius. His name is Bret Harte, and so 
entirely did he recognize his indebtedness to her that he 
once wrote to her : " If I were to be cast away on a 
desert island, I should expect a savage to come forward 
with a three-cornered note from you to tell me that at 
your request I had been appointed governor of the 
island at a salary of two thousand four hundred dol- 
lars." 

She has both the versatility and adaptiveness that are 
characteristic of the genuine American woman, and 
which have enabled her to make almost as many friends 
in foreign lands as she has throughout her own country. 
The Count de la Garde, a cousin of Eugene and Hor- 
tense Beauharnais, whom she knew in Paris, and who 
left her at his death a valuable collection of sou- 
venirs of the Bonaparte family, said of her that she was 
the only American woman he had ever known. He 
had known others of her countrywomen, but they were 
but imitations of English or French women, while in her 
he felt the originality and individuality of another people. 

As a scientist and explorer, Fremont's reputation 
had gone forth to the countries of Europe, from many 
of which he received enviable honors and decorations. 
He and his wife were presented at the courts of Eng- 
land, France, and Denmark, attending at Copenhagen 
the wedding-festivities of the Crown Prince and his 
Swedish bride. As one of her friends has cleverly said 
of Mrs. Fremont, " she has entertained and been enter- 
tained through not only the gamut but the chromatic 

scale of society." 

146 



JESSIE BENTON 

After the war, while her younger children were still 
growing up, and during her husband's lifetime, she lived 
for some years in New York, on a picturesque old 
property on the Hudson that still bore its Indian name, 
Pocaho. Now, however, she lives again in the State 
that once gave her health, wealth, and honors, near the 
great sea, away from which she feels that she is never 
fully alive. 

Her life has been full of changes and events, to all 
of which her alert intelligence and quick sympathies 
have made her keenly susceptible, and which wrung 
from her recently a plaintive, " We are tired, my heart 
and I." That was all, for one who knew every phase 
of her life has already borne testimony to that " sweet 
and happy and forbearing temper which has remained 
proof against the wearing of time." 



147 



SALLIE WARD 

(MRS. GEORGE F. DOWNS) 

ONE of those extraordinary women which the 
world from time to time produces, who rise 
to eminence solely through the force of their 
own personality, was born in America as the nineteenth 
century was rounding out its first quarter. Known all 
her life throughout the entire country, she was one of 
the most conspicuous figures in the life of the South 
and Southwest, and was the object of a sentiment that 
fell but little short of worship among the people of the 
state of Kentucky, to which she belonged. 

James Lane Allen who has studied his people from 
every stand-point, draws the typical Kentucky woman 
for us as " a refinement of the English blonde, with 
greater delicacy of form, feature, and color." 

" A beautiful Kentucky woman," he says, " is apt to 
be exceedingly beautiful. Her voice is almost uni- 
formly low and soft, her hands and feet delicately 
formed, her skin quite pure and beautiful in tint and 
shading, her eyes blue or brown, her hair nut-brown or 
golden ; to all which is added a certain unapproach- 
able refinement." 

Of such a class, Sallie Ward, with her blue eyes full 

148 



SALLIE WARD 

of twinkling humor and rather far apart, lending to 
her round face an expression of candor, which was 
further borne out by her somewhat large though finely 
shaped mouth disclosing handsome teeth in her happy 
tendency to frequent smiling, her brown hair, and a skin 
faultless in tint and texture, has been the most noted 
representative. A radiant woman, instinct with spark- 
ling life from the crown of her beautiful head to the 
tips of her slender feet, spoiled, wilful, lovely, and lov- 
ing, it is probable that but few people will ever truly 
estimate her character. 

She was the daughter of Robert J. Ward, a man of 
considerable wealth and of that distinction of manner 
and bearing which is commonly designated as of the 
old school. Like many another gifted young Ken- 
tuckian, similarly placed in life, he began his career 
with political aspirations, and before he had reached his 
thirtieth year he had been elected Speaker of the State 
Assembly. His own private concerns, however, gradu- 
ally absorbing his time and interest, drew him away 
from his youthful ambitions. He married the heiress 
of a large fortune, Miss Flournoy, of Georgetown, 
Kentucky, the descendant of an old Huguenot family, 
to whose fame her immediate ancestors had further 
contributed by the gallant part they had taken in the 
war of the American Revolution. 

Sallie Ward, one of the eldest of a large family of 
children, was born on her grandfather's estate in Scott 
County. She went to boarding-school in Philadelphia, 

the reputation of whose educational institutions in the 

149 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

first half of the century surpassed those of any other 
city in the country. At even an earlier period, an 
entry in the journal of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 
one of the most enlightened men of his age, shows in 
what high estimation they were held, from the fact that 
he mentions no other, though the praise in this instance 
is rather of a negative order. He records in 1816 that 
he has sent his little granddaughter, Mary Harper, to 
a school in Poitiers under the care of Mr. Gallatin, 
then our minister to France, " where she will be more 
piously educated than in the very best boarding-school 
in Philadelphia." 

There were some good students, no doubt, to uphold 
the reputation of well-established schools, though it was 
before the influence of Hannah Adams, the pioneer of 
a broader education for women, had been widely felt, 
and before that delicate balance between the mental 
and physical being of a girl student had ever been dis- 
turbed by over-study. With that " little learning," that 
was not " a dangerous thing" from the point of view of 
the women of that day, there were many with a mental 
sprightliness that was far more exhilarating than all 
their deep draughts from the Pierian spring had ren- 
dered a few such women as Hannah Adams. A dis- 
appointed man who once made a stage-coach journey 
with her related that she only opened her lips to enumer- 
ate the pieces of baggage with which she was encum- 
bered, lest in her descent she should, in the preoccupa- 
tion of her mind, leave behind her either her " great box, 
little box, or bandbox." 

150 




Sallie Ward 

(Mrs. George F. Downs) 
From a miniature 



SALLIE WARD 

Sallie Ward, in deference perhaps to the prejudices of 
her French origin, was sent to a school presided over by 
a woman of that nationality. She enlivened its atmos- 
phere of conventional elegance by many startling 
ebullitions of her undisciplined young spirits, such as 
appearing unannounced in male attire at wholly inap- 
propriate moments. Then, as everybody disappeared 
with more haste than dignity, her own uncontrollable 
laughter would reveal the truth of the situation. Some 
one would exclaim, " Sallie Ward !" and the others 
would troop back to admire her, for, if a little effemi- 
nate, she made, nevertheless, a very captivating youth, 
and no school-mistress could ever look into her beam- 
ing face and find it in her heart to be harsh to her. 

Her own mother attempted once when she was a 
very little child to punish her for some misdemeanor, 
but Sallie, divining her purpose, dropped quickly on 
her knees and raised her little hands in supplication. 
There seemed at that moment something so seraphic in 
her childish beauty that her mother afterwards admitted 
that her good intentions were involuntarily thwarted. 
Though the rod was always spared, she grew up to be 
none the less lovable, though a woman of the world 
in all things rather than a woman of the spirit, the 
logical result of her environment. 

A subtle quality that goes forth from some personali- 
ties, commanding instant attention and reverence, went 
forth from Sallie Ward, evoking everywhere admiration 
and love. She realized the power herself, and it en- 
abled her to do everything with an indefinable grace pro- 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

ceeding from an absolute self-confidence. That which 
would have seemed daring coming from another woman 
was approved and applauded in Sallie Ward. She pos- 
sessed a knowledge of horses that is more or less com- 
mon among the women of Kentucky, and rode with a 
dash and skill which the women of no other State have 
ever surpassed. She sometimes capriciously utilized 
this accomplishment to test a man's devotion, doing 
apparently without premeditation some' daring feat and 
discovering thereby the extent to which he would fol- 
low her, for every man was at least worth measuring 
weapons with, though in the process she unwittingly, 
no doubt, despoiled many a less dazzling woman. 
She was, however, only exercising what she conceived 
to be the prerogative of every woman. While riding in 
Louisville one day she came upon the market-house, 
which ran for some distance through the centre of the 
street. Instead of going around it, she impulsively 
dashed through it without in any degree slackening her 
speed. The man who was with her unhesitatingly fol- 
lowed, and was rewarded, as he drew up beside her 
on emerging from the far end of the structure, with an 
arch smile and " Now, sir, you'll have a pretty fine to 
pay, twenty-five dollars apiece, for that little stretch." 
When he went the next day, however, to pay the penalty 
for the pretty caprice, he found that the obligation had 
already been quietly discharged by Miss Ward herself. 

She had innumerable lovers and suitors all her life, 
and never, even in its closing years, entered any assem- 
blage, small or great, private or public, that her name 

152 



SALLIE WARD 

did not pass from mouth to mouth till all were aware 
of her presence. She was the glorious heroine of 
many a shy girl's first ball, while the forlorn little maid 
whom it purported to introduce to the social world 
clung timidly to the wall, with admiring eyes, how- 
ever paradoxical it may seem, upon the radiant being, 
who with apparent unconsciousness was carrying off 
all the honors of the occasion. The remarkable popu- 
larity of Sallie Ward has been compared to that of a 
feudal princess in her hereditary domain. It was con- 
fined to no class, but entered into all grades of society, 
parents in all walks of life naming their children after 
her, and children in turn naming their pets after her. 
Many a product of the far-famed stock-farms of the 
blue-grass State was likewise honored with a name that 
came to be a synonyme for all excellence. " It is a per- 
fect Sallie Ward," or, " I've a regular Sallie Ward," was 
the proud boast of many a man who owned anything 
whatsoever that he esteemed of superlative quality. 

A mother once putting her little girl to bed related 
to her as a lullaby the story of the creation of the 
world, pointing out its beauties and blessings as they 
came from the hand of God. 

" He made the sun that shines in the day," said the 
mother, " and the moon and the stars that we see in 
the night, and all the flowers that beautify the world, 
and the birds that gladden it with their sweet song." 

" And mother, don't forget," interrupted the child. 
He made Sallie Ward, too." 

When the governor of Kentucky, at the outbreak 

153 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of the Mexican War, was called upon to furnish a 
regiment of infantry, both the Louisville Legion and 
the Louisville Guard, among whose officers and men 
were enrolled many names of which the State was justly 
proud, volunteered for service. Sallie Ward was selected 
to present the flags to both companies, and the enthu- 
siasm of the people, when on the bright May morning 
of their departure the Legion passed in review before 
her home, testified to the concurrence of the entire city 
in the choice. There was a prolonged shout of rapture 
from the throng of spectators as many eyes dim with 
weeping beheld the already familiar form of Sallie 
Ward standing beneath the silken folds of her coun- 
try's flag. Their cheers redoubled as she presented it 
to the standard-bearer, and they continued to ring in 
her ears as she waved her own farewell to the embryo 
heroes, many of whom carried away that last picture of 
her standing in the sunshine of that bright morning 
to be an inspiration in a darker hour. She drove 
to Portland to present the flag to the Guards, who em- 
barked from that point. As they marched by the open 
carriage in which she sat at the conclusion of the cere- 
mony of the presentation, every man saluted her, and 
she afterwards declared that it was the proudest mo- 
ment in a life of many triumphs. 

Her father's wealth not only enabled him to main- 
tain one of the most elaborate establishments in Louis- 
ville, but in the summer to transport his numerous 
family, accompanied by men- and maid-servants, in 
travelling-carriages to the White Sulphur Springs, where 

154 



SALLIE WARD 

his daughters were successively belles. A portion of 
each winter, including the season of the Mardi Gras, 
was spent in New Orleans, for though the facilities for 
travelling that exist to-day were not known at that 
time, a man blessed with the worldly goods that Mr. 
Ward possessed could not only permit his family to 
make frequent journeys, but to make them also under 
most comfortable and agreeable circumstances. 

In this way the fame of Sallie Ward was well estab- 
lished at the South when, before she had reached her 
twentieth year, she married Bigelow Lawrence, of Bos- 
ton, and entered upon her brief career at the North. 
The man who thus won her from many Southern 
rivals was many years her senior, and it was to a 
woman of her temperament a most unfortunate alli- 
ance. He was the son of the Hon. Abbott Law- 
rence, who had been our minister to England, and 
was himself a man of wealth and distinction and an 
exquisite gentleman of the severe Boston school, whose 
ethics were wholly at variance with that spirit of 
liberality which was all Sallie Ward had hitherto known. 
Developed in an atmosphere of almost passionate ad- 
miration, love and appreciation had become as neces- 
sary to her being as light and air. Transplanted in the 
very effulgence of her bloom to a frigid temperature of 
critical and unsympathetic surroundings, all her spon- 
taneous grace congealed into acts of deliberate effron- 
tery. Bewildered by a chill she had never before felt, 
too young and inexperienced in the ways of the world 
beyond those of her own genial climate, where she had 

'55 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

been a law unto herself, to realize aught of the value 
of mutual concessions, she struck blindly against the 
cold conventionality in which she felt herself encaged. 
It was a strange and almost cruel fate that put her in 
the bosom of the Lawrence family, and occasioned as 
much suffering to her Southern heart as to their Northern 
sensibilities. 

At a ball given in Boston about the time Mrs. 
Bloomer was seeking to introduce her reform in woman's 
dress, and while the subject was being widely discussed. 
Sallie Ward, then the wife of Bigelow Lawrence, ap- 
peared in a costume designed on the Bloomer pattern. 
Socially conservative Boston was agog, and Lawrence 
achieved through his wife an unenviable notoriety. 
Another of her proclivities wrought additional sensa- 
tion and consequently further havoc in his social status. 
Notwithstanding the natural beauty of her complexion, 
it was whispered even in Louisville that she sought with 
more or less artistic skill to further embellish it. One 
day when the artifice was unusually apparent, as she 
passed a group of laboring men, one exclaimed, audibly, 
" By God, painted !" Nothing daunted and without 
changing color, the story runs, she said, quietly, " Yes, 
painted by God," and passed on. 

Her mother, realizing the unhappy condition of her 
life with Mr. Lawrence, took her home, and within a 
year she applied to the Legislature of Kentucky for a 
divorce, which was granted on the ground of incom- 
patibility of temper. She took her maiden name and 

lived for several years in retirement. 

156 



SALLIE WARD 

Her first reappearance in that world of gayety and 
social emulation which was her natural element was 
at a ball given in Louisville, and where at midnight, 
though everybody knew she was in the house, she 
had not yet made her appearance. Shortly after twelve 
o'clock the music suddenly ceased ; in an instant silence 
fell upon the ball-room ; some one whispered " Sallie 
Ward," and every one pressed towards the stairway. 
She was, indeed, a vision of radiant loveliness that 
held every man and woman spellbound as she de- 
scended its winding length. She was enveloped in 
white tulle, which seemed to float about her like a cloud, 
a jewelled pin catching the meshes of a filmy veil and 
holding it imprisoned in her brown hair. One arm 
covered with jewelled bracelets was extended, the hand 
resting in that of the man who had the honor of lead- 
ing her. So light and floating was the effect she pro- 
duced that the tips of her white slippers seemed scarcely 
to touch the steps. 

She was at all times supreme and irresistible without 
resorting to extraordinary effects, which she frequently 
did, for she was not lacking in that vanity which is " the 
cordial drop," said John Adams, " that makes the bitter 
cup of life go down," though an existence filled with 
so many sweets as was hers could have needed no such 
stimulus. 

At a fancy-dress ball given in her honor at Lexing- 
ton, she created an unparalleled sensation by changing 
her costume four times in the course of the evening, 
reaching the climax as an houri. 

157 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Her second marriage was to Dr. Hunt, of New 
Orleans, where she was already well known. The city, 
with its contingent of wealthy Spanish and French 
planters, contained many homes whose palatial splendors 
exceeded those of the most pretentious establishments 
of other localities. The new home in which Sallie 
Ward came to preside was on a scale of magnificence 
that fully gratified her luxurious tastes and love of the 
beautiful. Its rich adornment of tapestries, statuary, 
and Parisian furnishings, its marble court, with its glis- 
tening fountains and wealth of tropical bloom, formed 
an exquisite background for her artistic individuality 
and prodigal temperament. Its hospitalities were mu- 
nificent and the legend of the magnificence of its dinner- 
parties, during which the orchestra from the French 
opera filled the court-yard and dining-room with its 
melodies, was the marvel of a people accustomed to 
entertaining with all the luxurious accompaniments of 
a most artistic civilization; and into all of whose forms 
of a ceremonious existence there entered a perfect har- 
mony that was a second nature to them. 

The years of her residence in New Orleans represent 
the most brilliant period of Sallie Ward's life, when her 
surroundings, combined with her natural gifts, gave her 
easily that leading position which she filled so graciously 
and with so much happiness to herself. Her only child, 
Mr. John Hunt, of New York, was born of this 
marriage. 

After her husband's death she returned to Louisville, 

and there for some years devoted herself to rearing and 

158 



SALLIE WARD 

educating her son. She was subsequently twice mar- 
ried, the first time, alter nearly fifteen years of widow- 
hood, to Mr. Vene P. Armstrong, and the second time 
to Mr, George F. Downs, both of Kentucky. She 
retained till the end of her life, which closed in 
the summer of 1898, all her remarkable powers of 
attraction. 

Surrounded always with the pomp and vanity of 
life, and deeply imbued with the maxims of a worldly 
philosophy, she yet preserved intact an unselfish heart 
that not only prompted her to many deeds of noble 
philanthropy, but to countless little acts of kindness 
graciously performed that beautified lives less fortunate 
than her own. With her quick bright mind and gift 
for clever repartee, she sent many a ripple of irresistible 
drollery over the current of the life that encircled her, 
and sped many a shaft of stinging wit into the armor 
of a hollow conventionality. " How lovely of you to 
say that ! but then you always say such sweet things 
of everybody," was the meaningless flattery in the 
response of a woman to whom she had spoken in 
heartfelt praise of another woman. "Did you ever 
hear, madam," retorted Mrs. Downs, " that I had said 
anything sweet of you ?" 

She never could have attracted and held the uni- 
versal homage that was undoubtedly hers had there 
not radiated from her a power quite beyond that 
bestowed by the material possessions of the world, 
the potency of a vivid and lovable personality. Had 
she been a man, she would have been capable of 

159 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

such acts of gallantry and daring as characterized 
"mad" Anthony Wayne or General Custer. As she 
was a woman, with her field restricted to the social 
world, from whose stand-point she must necessarily, 
therefore, be judged, her singular genius was productive 
of many extraordinary achievements, through all of 
which there was a very audible appeal for the love that 
never failed her, but which was given to her in such 
measure as perhaps to no other woman ever born in 
America. 



160 



HARRIET LANE 

(MRS. HENRY ELLIOTT JOHNSTON) 

OF the men who have filled the Presidential chair 
of the United States, about none as about James 
Buchanan has romance hung that halo which 
in his case tends but to throw into bolder relief the sub- 
stantial side of his character. Men of more dash, of 
more picturesque individuality have filled that high 
office than was he who rose to it through the grada- 
tions of a long legislative career. 

When he entered Congress, though he was but 
twenty-nine years old, the chapter of sentiment had 
already closed for him, and it was never reopened 
during a long life, the greater part of which was 
passed in the gaze of a scrutinizing public. This fact 
alone is sufficient to render him unique in the estima- 
tion of a people who have a primitive love for the 
story where all ends happily. 

There was nothing in Buchanan's appearance nor in 
his attitude towards life in general that suggested the 
tragic episode of his youth. It is only in retrospect 
that we realize the glamour it cast over his subsequent 
years. Nature reacts through various channels, and in 
him she sought her outlet in an unabating mental 
activity. He was a student all his life. 

To the world he was a man of somewhat grave ap- 

ii 161 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

pearance, a typical anglo-saxon, immaculate in his dress, 
conservative in his speech, and yet with a grace and 
dignity of manner that added much to the distinction 
with which he represented his country at the court of 
Russia in 1832, and again twenty-one years later at the 
court of St. James. 

His attitude towards women was that of chivalric 
regard, and the close relationship he bore to one of the 
most beautiful women of her period, being both her 
uncle and guardian, displays one of the most interesting 
sides of his character. Much of the charm that at- 
taches to the history of the more conspicuous years of 
his public career emanates from Harriet Lane. No 
woman has ever presided in the White House who 
roused so universal an interest, unless it was Mrs. Cleve- 
land, as did Buchanan's niece. 

Her countrymen honored her in every conceivable 
way, and her name was a household word. Vessels of 
war and of peace bore it to foreign shores. Clubs, 
streets, houses, and even articles of dress were named 
after her. 

There was a majestic isolation about both Harriet 
Lane and James Buchanan. Death had stripped them 
both, Buchanan in his youth of the woman who might 
have rounded out his life, and Harriet Lane, one by one, 
of mother, father, sister, and brothers. She came 
into the White House bearing the burden of personal 
loss in the recent death of her only sister. As she 
came out of it the travail of coming war had already 

cast its shadow upon the nation. 

162 



HARRIET LANE 

Yet, socially, the White House was never so bril- 
liant as it was during the administration of Buchanan. 
" The White House," said Jefferson Davis, referring 
later to his last days in Washington, " under the ad- 
ministration of Buchanan approached more nearly to 
my idea of a republican court than the President's 
house had ever done before,, or since the days of 
Washington." 

A picture that the people seemed never to tire of 
looking upon was of the grave bachelor-President with 
his beautiful niece beside him doing the honors of the 
nation. She was at the climax of her glorious woman- 
hood during the period she passed in the White House. 
Contact with the world, together with her recent touch 
of sorrow, had worn away the angles of her youthful 
exuberance. She had attained a golden maturity, and 
with a perfection of physical development she united a 
dignity and a confidence in herself restful to behold. 
" Every motion," Mary Clemmer wrote of her at that 
time, " was instinct with life, health, and intelligence. 
Her head and features were cast in noble mould, and 
her form, which at rest had something of the massive 
majesty of a marble pillar, in motion was instinct alike 
with power and grace." 

She had a warmth of coloring that further bore out 
the idea of abundant health. Her hair was of a golden- 
brown hue, and worn always with that absolute sim- 
plicity which best became her well-shaped head. Her 
eyes were of a deep violet and her mouth was fault- 
lessly beautiful, with its full red lips and upward curve. 

163 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

She was as discreet, said one of her admiring critics, 
as she was beautiful, and her uncle's confidence in her 
was without bounds. Even as a little child, when 
falling far short in many respects of his somewhat 
austere ideals of propriety, she had inspired in him a 
reverence for her absolute truthfulness. " She never 
told a lie," he once said, in speaking of her childhood ; 
" she had a soul above deceit or fraud. She was too 
proud for it." 

She came into Buchanan's life like a breath of wind 
from the mountain-side, fresh, sweet, and wild. Bu- 
chanan was distraught. His bachelor habitat was in 
confusion. He was a man of theories and ideals. This 
bit of youthful life that had elected to invade the quiet 
of his days was a being of impulse, however generous, 
of exuberant health and spirits. A sense of his su- 
periority, however, penetrating her youthful intelli- 
gence, gave him that influence over her that was pro- 
ductive of such satisfactory results as she grew to 
womanhood. 

Through her father, Elliot Lane, whose family had 
emigrated to Virginia during the war of the American 
Revolution, she was of English descent. From the 
north of Ireland, about the same time, also had come 
her maternal grandfather, James Buchanan. He mar- 
ried Elizabeth Spear, the daughter of a farmer, and 
settled in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, then and for 
some years later central ground and the great highway 
between the East and the West. James Buchanan, 

afterwards President of his country, and Jane, the 

164 




Harriet Lane 

(Mrs. Henry Elliott Johnston) 
From photograph by Julius Ulke 



HARRIET LANE 

mother of Harriet Lane, were the first two children 
born of this marriage. 

Harriet Lane, the youngest of four children, became 
an orphan in her tenth year. She attached herself 
voluntarily to her already distinguished uncle, who was 
at the time in the United States Senate, having but 
recently returned from Russia, where he had negotiated 
our first commercial treaty with that country. 

Somewhat abashed though duly touched by the 
honor conferred upon him by his ardent little kins- 
woman, he undertook the novel responsibility of her 
upbringing with such misgivings as he had never been 
conscious of when accepting the various high honors 
bestowed upon him by his country. She quitted the 
home in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where she was 
born, and her uncle's home, Wheatland, became 
thenceforth hers. It was a roomy old brick house 
with ample grounds, on East King Street, in Lancaster, 
one of the old colonial towns of Pennsylvania. 

It has been said, in no matter how many places we 
may live, there is only one that is home to us. Wheat- 
land was that to Harriet Lane, though she was des- 
tined to see much of the world and to spend years at 
a time away from its tranquil seclusion. Its improve- 
ment and adornment were ever matters of keen in- 
terest to her. There she first attracted an admiration 
which gradually extended over her own country and 
England, for the fame of Harriet Lane was international. 
There she had possession of her uncle, it being their 

custom to spend their mornings together, usually in 

165 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

reading the newspapers, she incidentally absorbing his 
statesmanlike view of the political questions of the 
day. 

Buchanan frequently entertained at Wheatland both 
his political friends and those he had made through his 
diplomatic relations. His niece was a truly betwitching 
hostess on these occasions, to which there often attached 
much that was brilliant. 

The first attempt at training after she passed under 
her uncle's care was not a happy one in the estimation 
of his young ward. Being obliged to go to Washing- 
ton for the session of Congress, he closed his home at 
Lancaster and transferred his menage to the capital, for 
Buchanan always set up his household gods wherever 
he tarried for any length of time, his housekeeper, Miss 
Hetty Parker, who served him in that capacity for 
forty years, going with him from place to place. Har- 
riet was left in Lancaster, in the home of some venerable 
spinsters of her uncle's acquaintance, who had pro- 
nounced ideas on the moral gait to be maintained by 
the rising generation. From her own accounts, given 
in letters to her uncle, she seems to have been fre- 
quently disciplined by means of her healthy young 
appetite. There were melodramatic occasions when 
she went without sugar in her tea, and was com- 
pelled to practise various similar mortifications of the 
flesh for which no small girl has a natural bent. After 
she was removed from these uncongenial surroundings 
she lived for some time in dread of an adverse circum- 
stance that might return her to them. Her uncle, on 

166 



HARRIET LANE 

whom neither the pathos nor the humor of the situa- 
tion was lost, more than once suggested quizzically in 
his letters to her that she might like to go back to the 
old ladies. 

When they were separated he wrote to her every 
day, at first from conscientious motives of the duty he 
owed to her, and later because of the pleasure he de- 
rived from this frequent interchange of thought and 
sympathy. When she was twelve years old he sent 
her with her sister, Mary, to boarding-school at Charles- 
town, West Virginia. 

" Had Mary written to me that you were a good 
girl and had behaved yourself entirely well, I should 
have visited you during the Christmas holidays," he 
said, in the course of a letter written to her shortly after 
her initiation into boarding-school life. 

In 1845 Buchanan became Secretary of State under 
President Polk. " My labors are great," he wrote to 
Harriet, shortly after entering upon the duties of his 
new office, " but they d(5 not ' way' me down, as you 
write the word. Now I would say ' weight but doctors 
may differ on this point." Further on in the same 
letter he continues thus : " Your friends, Mrs. Bancroft 
[wife of the Secretary of War] and the Pleasantons 
often inquire for you. They have given you some- 
what of a name here, and Mrs. Polk and Miss Rucker, 
her niece, have several times urged me to permit you 
to come and pass some time with them. I have been 
as deaf as the adder to their request, knowing, to use a 

word of your grandmother, that you are too ' outset- 

167 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

ting' already. There is a time for all things under the 
sun, as the wise man says, and your time will yet 
come." Again, he sends love from Miss Hetty, his 
housekeeper, and a message to the effect that she would 
be glad to see Harriet in Washington. " I fear she 
might be twice glad," added Buchanan, " once on 
your arrival and still more so on your departure." 

It was Buchanan's custom to spend his summers or a 
portion of them at Bedford Springs, taking his nieces 
with him. To the younger it has ever been a place of 
happy memories. There, when she was still quite a 
young girl, she met the man, then also full of all the 
enthusiasm of youth, to whom, after exacting a pro- 
longed devotion, she finally surrendered herself. 

In one of her uncle's letters written to her in the 
summer of 1846 he tells her he will not be able to go 
to Bedford before the i oth of August, " when the sea- 
son will be over and it will be too late for Mary to 
enact the character of belle; and you," he continued, 
" are quite too young to make the attempt." 

He placed her, the autumn of that year, in the Visi- 
tation Convent, in Georgetown, whence she was gradu- 
ated three years later with much distinction. She 
passed one Sunday in every month during these three 
years at her uncle's home on F Street, there catching 
her first glimpse of that world of which she was later to 
form a part. Her uncle was still Secretary of State, and 
his home was frequented by the most illustrious men 
who made up the public life of that day. There Harriet, 
looking upon herself as a full-fledged young lady, spent 

1 68 



HARRIET LANE 

the first winter after her liberation from school duties. 
The following year, however, she passed quietly among 
her relatives in Pennsylvania, which was more in accord 
with her uncle's wishes, for she was still very young. 
The decision to do so was entirely voluntary on her 
part, which pleased Buchanan greatly, for he realized 
fully what a fascination the gay life of the capital held 
for a young girl in her high social position. He wrote 
her a letter full of praise for controlling what he knew 
to be her inclination and remaining at home. " This 
act of self-restraint has raised you in my estimation," 
he wrote, and then went on to relate frankly how gay 
the city was, and concluded by assuring her that Mr. 
John Sullivan, an Irish gentleman famous for his din- 
ners, would be inconsolable when he learned that she 
was not to be there that winter. 

It is supposed that no American woman ever had 
more offers of marriage than Harriet Lane, and it is 
evident, from a letter written her by her uncle about 
this time, that suitors had already begun to present them- 
selves. " I wish now to give you a caution," he wrote: 
" never allow your affections to become interested, or 
engage yourself to any person, without my previous 
advice. You ought never to marry any person who is 
not able to afford you a decent and immediate support. 
In my experience I have witnessed the long years of 
patient misery and dependence which fine women have 
endured from rushing precipitately into matrimonial 
connections without sufficient reflection. Look ahead 

and consider the future, and act wisely in this particular." 

169 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

With the incoming of Taylor's administration Bu- 
chanan retired to Wheatland, spending the ensuing four 
years there with occasional sallies to Washington and 
his summers as usual at Bedford Springs. 

Harriet Lane was already a belle of far more than 
local repute when in 1852, her uncle having been ap- 
pointed minister to England, she accompanied him 
thither. 

Through the effect she produced in a strange land 
Buchanan probably for the first time fully realized how 
unusually beautiful she was. So favorable was the im- 
pression she made upon the queen that on state occa- 
sions she was assigned to places usually given only to 
the wives of ambassadors and ministers. She was well 
known throughout England, and on the day that Oxford 
University conferred the degree of Doctor of Civil 
Laws upon her uncle and Alfred Tennyson its ancient 
walls rang with the cheers that went up from its hun- 
dreds of students who rose en masse to greet the entrance 
of Harriet Lane. 

" She was a most distinguished young person," said 
one of her countrymen recently, growing enthusiastic 
over the recollection of the impression she created, 
" whom more than one Englishman would have given 
his head to marry." 

Her beauty was not less appreciated by the artistic 
eye of the French people, and Mr. James Edward 
MacFarland, who was secretary of the American lega- 
tion at the time of her visit to the family of Mr. John 

Y. Mason, then our minister to France, was full of 

170 



HARRIET LANE 

anecdotes of the naivete with which the people in the 
streets of Paris were wont to express their admira- 
tion. 

Shortly after her return to America the loss of her 
only sister, Mrs. George W. Baker, who died in Cali- 
fornia, sent Harriet Lane into deep mourning. While 
the country was filled with stories of her beauty and 
the impression it had created in foreign capitals she 
was passing her days in the grateful quiet of Wheat- 
land. Her uncle's nomination to the Presidency but 
added to her fame, the campaign, election, and inaugu- 
ration bringing her gradually into that eminent position 
she was so admirably fitted to fill. At the ball attend- 
ing the inaugural ceremonies at Washington she made 
her first reappearance in public, clad, as best became 
her noble form, in the simplicity of a white dress, 
flower trimmed, and with a necklace of pearls. 

In those days, before social functions had attained 
the proportions that now characterize them, they re- 
flected in the White House, as elsewhere, more of the 
individuality of the host and hostess than is now pos- 
sible. Many details that are now consigned to secre- 
taries and stewards then appertained to the master arid 
mistress of the house. Harriet Lane and her cousin 
James Buchanan Henry, who acted as private secretary 
to his uncle, invariably arranged the seating of the 
guests at state dinners, an onerous task now performed 
by an under-secretary of the Executive Mansion, who, 
besides being familiar with the rules of official prece- 
dence, must also know something of the social relation- 

171 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

ship each guest bears to his possible neighbor. She 
made no mistakes, for she had been trained to her posi- 
tion as had none of her predecessors, unless we except 
the wives of the two Adamses. 

In 1860, when the Prince of Wales visited Eng- 
land's North American possessions, on President 
Buchanan's suggestion and invitation, he extended his 
travels so as to include at least a portion of the United 
States. The memory of his sojourn among us still 
lives in many of the cities and towns whose territory 
had once formed part of the kingdom of his ances- 
tors. The five days he spent in Washington were 
passed in the White House. A guest of the nation at 
the capital is usually assigned to a suite of rooms in 
one of the hotels of the city. Between Buchanan and 
the Prince of Wales, however, owing to the former's 
recent residence at the court of St. James, there ex- 
isted more of a personal feeling than is usual between 
the President and state guests. 

In all the festivities by which the Executive Mansion 
did honor to his presence the unerring hand and fault- 
less taste of Harriet Lane were evident. 

One memorable day of his visit was spent at Mount 
Vernon. The revenue cutter " Harriet Lane" was 
selected to take the distinguished little party, consisting 
of the President, Miss Lane, the Prince, his suite, and 
the British Minister down the river. The simplicity of 
George Washington's home and the picturesque beauty 
of its situation were themes of interesting study to the 

Englishmen. At his tomb they reverently bared their 

172 



HARRIET LANE 

heads, and near it the Prince planted a tree in remem- 
brance of the day. 

After he left Washington he wrote to the President 
expressing his appreciation of the hospitality he had 
received, and sending him his portrait painted by Sir 
John Watson Gordon, with a set of engravings of the 
Royal family for Miss Lane, to whom now also belong 
the portrait and the letter, together with one written by 
the queen. It echoes the gratification already ex- 
pressed by her son concerning the kindliness of his 
reception among the American people, and shows in 
what high regard she personally held both the President 
and his niece. 

Buchanan's administration was the last of the old 
regime, a period in which there had been that unity of 
purpose that had fostered the nation, that wise forebear- 
ance that had preserved it, and withal much of illustrious 
oratory and brilliant debate. But the parting of the 
ways had come. A day of action was at hand. Bu- 
chanan, oppressed with a sense of his impotency to 
avert a crisis that was inevitable, retired to Wheatland, 
and Lincoln, full of high purposes and many mis- 
givings, stepped into the pathway of destiny. Upon 
the one public life instantly relaxed its hold, while 
about the other it threw its myriad feverish tendrils, 
clutching him hourly closer to itself till the long 
watches of that fatal April night, during which its im- 
perious tenure was loosened by death. 

With Buchanan, Harriet Lane also passed from the 
horizon of public life, spending with him at Wheat- 

173 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

land those historic four years that followed her days 
in the White House. There, in January, 1866, she 
was married to Henry Elliott Johnston, of Baltimore. 
The ceremony was performed by her uncle, the Rev. 
Edward Y. Buchanan, of the Episcopal Church. 

Her honeymoon she passed in Cuba and her married 
life in Baltimore, in whose social doings she took a 
prominent part. At her uncle's death, in 1868, she in- 
herited Wheatland, where for a number of years she 
passed her summers. In 1892 she bought a home in 
Washington, where she now spends the greater part of 
her time. 

Much has been given her of life's joys and triumphs, 
and much, too, of its sorrows. Death has repeatedly 
crossed the threshold of her home, robbing her, one by 
one, of her heart's treasures: in 1881 the elder of her 
two sons, James Buchanan Johnston, a boy of brilliant 
promise, then in his fourteenth year; in 1882 her second 
son, Henry Elliott Johnston ; and two years later her 
husband. Surrounded not only by life's comforts, but 
its elegancies, by friends of her own and a succeeding 
generation, there is yet about Harriet Lane Johnston 
to-day much of that same majestic isolation that marked 
her youth. 



174 



ADELE CUTTS 

(MRS. ROBERT WILLIAMS) 

DURING the four years that Franklin Pierce pre- 
sided over the nation so many beautiful women 
came prominently before the public at the 
capital that his was called the "beauty administra- 
tion." Many were the wives and daughters of men in 
high official position, but the fame of none exceeded 
that of the daughter of James Madison Cutts, who 
held the office of Second Controller of the Treasury. 

Born within a stone's throw of the White House, 
all her young days centred about it, and how near she 
came to living there as the wife of a President we 
may gauge by how near Stephen A. Douglas came to 
possessing that office. Adele Cutts flourished in that 
truly golden era before material wealth became a neces- 
sary adjunct to a woman's popularity, when men were 
distinguished by a greater spirit of gallantry and disin- 
terestedness, and in the days before a belle's powers at a 
watering-place were rated by the number or size of the 
trunks she took with her ; in a word, in the days when 
the woman herself was pre-eminent and the accident 
of worldly possessions secondary. 

It was recently said of a wealthy American girl, who, 
though she has generously expended much of her 

175 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

large fortune in the endowment of seats of learning 
and similar public benefactions, has yet in herself none 
of that magnetism that would entitle her to enrolment 
among the great belles of her country, " Yes, she is a 
great belle this summer. She brought thirty trunks, 
and she dresses six times a day." At the same resort 
forty years ago, Adele Cutts, remarkable for the sim- 
plicity of her toilettes even among a generation that 
had no conception whatever of the elaborate costuming 
of women which marks the close of the century, was 
the most renowned of its belles. 

While she derived in the preliminary stages of her 
social career some prestige from her connection with 
two of the most illustrious families not only of 
Virginia but of the entire country, Washington 
and Madison, she attained while yet a very young 
woman a pre-eminence by reason of her beauty, the 
distinction of her bearing, and a genuine loveliness of 
character, which reflected as much honor upon the 
somewhat remote relationship as it had bestowed upon 
her. She was born in the home of her grandfather, 
Richard Cutts, who, in the days when Maine was part 
of Massachusetts, had for twelve years represented in 
the Congress of the United States that district which 
at this end of the century was for so long a period 
associated with the name of Thomas B. Reed. 

In 1804 Richard Cutts married Anna Payne, the 
youngest sister of the famous Dolly Payne, who some 
years before had become the wife of James Madison. 

Still another sister had married George Steptoe Wash- 

176 



ADELE CUTTS 

ington, the nephew of our first President. It was of 
her sister Anna's family that Mistress Dolly wrote her 
lines adapted from John Gilpin's ride : 

" My sister Cutts and Cutts and I and Cutts's children three 
Will fill the coach, so you must ride on horseback after we." 

The home Cutts built for his bride, and where his 
children and grandchildren were born, was irr those 
early days one of the pretentious houses of the capital. 
It overlooked Lafayette Square, and its beautiful garden, 
where Addie Cutts played as a little girl, skirted along 
H street to the end of the block. Cutts was a wid- 
ower when his son James Madison married Miss Ellen 
O'Neale, of Maryland, and took her to " Montpelier" 
to spend their honeymoon days with his aunt and 
uncle, whose namesake he was. On their return to 
Washington his bride became the mistress of her father- 
in-law's home, where in the following year, 1835, Adele 
Cutts was born. 

In the guise of a little flower-girl she made her first 
formal appearance at the White House when she was 
but seven years old, at a children's fancy ball given 
there in 1842 during the administration of President 
Tyler. 

She was for the most part educated at Madame Burr's 
school, in the city in which she was born. Her won- 
derful grace of manner, however, was not the result of 
education ; it was the manifestation of a character beau- 
tiful by nature and developed amid happy surround- 
ings. An only daughter, she was the close companion 

12 177 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of her beautiful and brilliant mother, besides spending 
much of her time until her fifteenth year with her 
great-aunt Madison, whose genius had sown the first 
seeds of social life in the barren wastes of the national 
capital and drawn together the scattered elements of 
its subsequent levees and dinner-parties. After the 
death of Madison, finding herself unable to support 
the solitude of her life at " Montpelier," which had 
been theretofore most complete and happy, she returned 
to Washington and took up her home in the Cutts 
house, which now belonged to her and which bears her 
name to this day, though it has had many other dis- 
tinguished occupants. Richard Cutts had mortgaged 
it to Madison, and dying before he had repaid him, 
the house passed into the possession of Mrs. Madison. 
There she held a court as brilliant as any ever presided 
over by an American woman, and Adele Cutts was 
early familiarized with the greatness of a generation 
that was already passing away. Webster, Clay, Cal- 
houn, as well as every President of the United States 
whose term of office fell during her residence in 
Washington, paid her the tribute of frequent visits, 
and felt honored by his privilege to do so. 

At the time of her death her great-niece was four- 
teen years old, and already possessed a beauty of the 
purest Greek type, whose stateliness increased as she ad- 
vanced towards womanhood. The faultless outline of 
her profile, the shapeliness of her head, her large, dark 
eyes, her chestnut hair that showed glints of a golden 
hue in the sunshine, the creamy tone of her skin, the per- 

178 




Adele Cutts 

(Mrs. Robert Williams) 

From portrait by George Peter A. Healy 



ADELE CUTTS 

feet proportion and development of her tall figure, all 
combined to make the rare beauty of a personality 
whose charm was augmented twofold by her own un- 
consciousness of its rich possessions. 

Like many girls of southern proclivities, she spent 
her summers at that famous old resort that has wit- 
nessed the rising and going down of so many social 
stars, the White Sulphur Springs. There, dressed al- 
ways in white, with a white kerchief in the mornings 
folded across her bosom and showing her fair throat, 
there was about her a freshness and simplicity that sug- 
gested her descent from the Quaker Paynes. 

The spirit of gallantry has no age limit in the South, 
and she, like many another girl in the blossom of her 
youth, received the homage of men of all periods of 
life. The beautiful Imogene Penn, afterwards Mrs. 
James Lyons, of Richmond, and whose belleship days 
were contemporaneous with those of Adele Cutts, en- 
countered the irrepressible Richmond wag, Tom Au- 
gust, one morning as. she was returning from the spring- 
house between two devotees, one of whom was the 
unsuspected possessor of forty-five, while the other con- 
cealed about his person as many as fifty summers. " I 
thought, Miss Imogene," said August, bowing pro- 
foundly to the trio and availing himself of a wit's 
privilege, " that you were just eighteen, but I see you 
are between forty-five and fifty." 

Some Virginia beaux, who were young then, have 
treasured up and still relate an anecdote of the manner 
in which one of Adele Cutts's elderly admirers lost the 

179 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

only opportunity she ever gave him to propose to her. 
He came from New Orleans, and was blessed with many 
good things, including sons and daughters older than 
Miss Cutts. At a fancy-dress ball she appeared com- 
pletely disguised in the character of a housekeeper, 
having borrowed the entire costume, including the cap, 
apron, and bunch of keys at her side, from the house- 
keeper of the hotel. Before any one had had an oppor- 
tunity to speculate on her identity, discovering her old 
admirer among the spectators of the gay and bewilder- 
ing scene, she approached demurely and asked him if 
he did not need a housekeeper. He parried the ques- 
tion somewhat playfully, and ended by answering in the 
negative. She dropped him a courtesy with a grace 
no housekeeper could emulate, peeping at him with 
laughing eyes over her mask, and disappeared in the 
throng of the ball-room. 

At a White House reception, early in the winter of 
1856, she met Stephen A. Douglas, who was then promi- 
nent as a Presidential possibility ; he was also one of 
the Illinois Senators, and his ringing speeches had won 
him a national fame equal to the intensity of his local 
popularity. His able defence of Andrew Jackson on 
the floor of the Senate so gratified and touched the old 
President that he preserved a copy of the speech, laying 
it aside as an inheritance for those who should come 
after him, and endorsing it as a defence of himself and 
his administration. The one great fault of that ad- 
ministration, in his own estimation, was none of those 
for which popular opinion of his day condemned him, 

180 



ADELE CUTTS 

but that he had not hanged Calhoun. "Douglas," 
writes one of his biographers, " had wonderfully mag- 
netic powers, and usually carried" his audience with him." 
It is small wonder, then, that at the end of a few months 
of ardent and eloquent debate, with an audience con- 
sisting of one young girl, that he should have carried 
her completely with him. 

He was a widower with two sons when he met 
Adele Cutts, and, like many a less fortunate man, he was 
instantly impressed with her absolute loveliness. He 
would go to her direct from the Senate chamber while 
the whole city was ringing with the fame of his speeches, 
which she not infrequently heard from a place in the 
gallery, and throw all his irresistible eloquence into his 
courtship of her. 

In the Democratic Convention of the summer of 
1856 Douglas and Buchanan were rival candidates for 
the Presidential nomination. Pierce, also, though there 
had been some doubt in the minds of his own towns- 
men about his making a successful President at all, 
was seeking the nomination for a second term. " Frank 
Pierce is all very well up here where he knows every- 
body and everybody knows Frank Pierce," said a New 
Hampshire sage during the summer preceding Pierce's 
election, " but when it comes to spreading him out over 
the whole country, I'm afraid he'll be mighty thin in 
some places." The thinness had evidently been ap- 
parent, for while he had the high honor of coming in 
almost unanimously, as Senator Benton said, he went 
out with as great a unanimity. 

181 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

When it became evident that the nomination was 
not for Douglas, so intensely was he beloved by the 
people of the West, and particularly by those of his 
own State, that many a sturdy, hard-featured delegate 
from that section, to all appearances the embodiment 
of stoicism, put down his head and wept like a little 
heart-broken child. 

On the 2Oth of November, a few weeks after the 
election of Buchanan, he was married to Adele Cutts, 
and it has been said that, of the many beautiful women 
who witnessed the incoming of Buchanan's administra- 
tion at his inaugural ball, Douglas's wife was the most 
beautiful. 

Already known to the South and the East, her fame 
now spread westward, and when it was rumored that 
Douglas would take her to Chicago, where he had 
maintained a legal residence for some years, the people 
of the town made ready to receive her with the en- 
thusiasm which she inspired in them then primarily as 
the young wife of Stephen A. Douglas. She made her 
first appearance among them at St. Mary's Church, 
where many people who had never been in a Catholic 
church before were found in the congregation that 
Sunday morning, and far more than the usual external 
contingent waited patiently on the sidewalk to see her 
as she came out. When she appeared with her hus- 
band at the celebration held on the State line between 
Illinois and Wisconsin, in honor of the union of the 
two railroad companies between Chicago and Mil- 
waukee, she was hailed with uproarious cheers. There 

182 



ADELE CUTTS 

was that in her very presence which seemed to com- 
pletely satisfy every man's ideal of all womanly per- 
fection. 

It was in the year of the great contest for the Legisla- 
ture between Lincoln and Douglas that the people of 
the West came to know her, however, as she was already 
known at the East, and to love her with that same 
loyalty and devotion. Her home in Chicago was 
always in hotels, sometimes at the Tremont House and 
again at the Lake View. Many of the men who have 
made Chicago the queen city she is to-day were then 
young. Among them were professional men and men 
full of commercial enterprise, all brainy and ambi- 
tious, and a fair number of them Democrats and fol- 
lowers of Douglas. These gathered about her in her 
parlors or under the trees in the garden overlooking 
the lake, and though she never entered into any political 
discussion, the very fact that Douglas possessed such a 
wife inspired them with renewed ardor for his cause. 
In her gentle graciousness, infinite tact, and entire un- 
consciousness of the admiration she everywhere aroused, 
they felt the full force of her high breeding. 

Lincoln and Douglas are so conspicuously identified 
as political enemies, that few people realize that per- 
sonally they were friends. Not unfrequently they 
travelled a whole day together only to take the plat- 
form that night against each other and to pommel each 
other, figuratively, out of recognition. Douglas was 
adroit, however, and Lincoln once said of him that it 
was difficult to get the best of him in any debate, be- 

183 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

cause his power of bewildering his audience was so 
great that they never knew when he was worsted. 
During the summer in which their political enmity 
first achieved so much prominence, Douglas's wife went 
with him through the State winning favor for him in all 
eyes, even including those of the " ablest whig rascal in 
all Springfield, Abe Lincoln." He liked to sit beside 
her as they journeyed from place to place and pour some 
funny story into her attentive ears, or, perhaps, divining 
the tender sympathy of her true woman's soul, tell her 
some incident of his early days, touching off its sorrow- 
ful details with a bit of homely philosophy or a stroke 
of his inexhaustible humor ; and as the train pulled into 
some expectant town, and the two opponents were 
greeted by factions whose enmity was real, he would 
say, " Here, Douglas, take your woman," and so they 
would part to meet again as foes. As the final victory 
was with Douglas, he and his wife made that tour of the 
Southern States that was much in the nature of a tri- 
umphal procession, and was a forerunner of his Presi- 
dential campaign which shortly followed. 

His real home was in Washington, where as a Sena- 
tor he spent the greater portion of each year. There 
he built a commodious house, with a ball-room, by no 
means a frequent adjunct at that time, which witnessed 
much generous hospitality in those difficult days pre- 
ceding secession, when a woman like Mrs. Douglas 
could best hold warring elements in abeyance. 

The result of the campaign of the summer of 1860, 
in which Lincoln and Douglas again confronted each 

184 



ADELE CUTTS 

other, this time for the higher prize of the Presidency, 
precipitated that crisis which at length brought these 
two life-long opponents together in defence of the 
Union. The whole aim of Douglas's life had been for 
the Presidency. He had accomplished all else he had 
ever set his heart upon, and he was so absolutely the 
idol of the people that it had not seemed possible to 
him he should fail here. He swallowed the bitterness 
of his disappointment heroically, however, and was a 
generous and even a graceful friend to Lincoln. 

It is related that, when Lincoln rose to read his in- 
augural address, he hesitated a moment, uncertain as to 
what disposition to make of his hat ; it was a new, high 
silk hat, too elegant an acquisition to the mind of one 
reared in the more than frugal atmosphere of Lincoln's 
home to be 'intrusted to the pine boards of the flag- 
draped stand in front of him. Douglas, divining the 
mental process of which Lincoln himself, in the em- 
barrassment of the moment, was scarcely conscious, 
stepped forward and relieved him of the hat, holding it 
for him till the conclusion of the address. 

During the early days of the conflict between the 
North and the South, which he had patriotically done 
his utmost to avert, he aided Lincoln with able counsel, 
pointing out to him among other things the necessity 
of securing Fortress Monroe and cautioning him against 
bringing the troops through Baltimore, prophesying that 
bloodshed that did occur. But before the conflict had 
assumed those proportions which it did later in the same 
year, on the 3d of June, 1861, Douglas's life closed. 

185 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

His last hours were spent in Chicago among the people 
he had so ably represented. There, with his wife beside 
him, and her mother and brother, James Madison Cutts, 
who was his private secretary, near by, and with his keen, 
dark eyes upon her face, as if he would forever fix upon 
his spirit its beautiful lineaments, and his hand in hers, 
his mind retaining all its strength and clearness till the 
end, he uttered his last memorable words. She had 
asked him if he had any message to send to his sons, 
and he replied, " Tell them to obey the laws of the 
land and to support the Constitution of the United 
States." 

Generous even to the point of recklessness, he died 
poor. Subscriptions were immediately begun among 
his friends towards a fund for his widow. She declined, 
however, to receive it, and begged that the sum thus 
raised be devoted to the erection of a monument to 
Douglas's memory. 

She returned to Washington and lived quietly for 
some years in the first home of her married life, taking 
no part in the social world whose magnet she had 
been for so many seasons. But she was not forgotten ; 
and when she again, after four years of seclusion, re- 
sumed her place in its midst, her reappearance brought 
up innumerable memories of her earlier days, of her 
conquest of the " Little Giant," and of her queenly 
part in his political campaigns. 

She was the guest of honor at a dinner given in the 
early winter of 1865, just as the war drew to its close, 
by Miss Harris, whose name lives in history in a very 

186 



ADELE CUTTS 

different connection : she was sitting beside Lincoln in 
his box at the theatre on the night he was shot. Among 
the guests bidden to meet Mrs. Douglas was Captain, 
afterwards General, Robert Williams, one of the hand- 
somest and most gallant officers of the army, and a 
member of a well-established family of Culpeper County, 
Virginia. Mrs. Douglas was already known to him by 
fame, and suspecting her to be possessed of all the 
caprices of a spoiled beauty, he had no desire whatever 
to meet her, though he accepted Miss Harris's invita- 
tion for the sake of the pleasure he would otherwise 
derive from her hospitality. After he had been pre- 
sented to Mrs. Douglas, however, whatever enjoyment 
he had anticipated from meeting others there passed 
from his mind. Combined with a gentle dignity, there 
was about her all the sweet simplicity of a young girl, 
and nothing that ever so remotely suggested any con- 
sciousness of a fame that was as wide as her country. 
He followed her with all the earnestness with which 
he had meant to avoid her, and in January, 1866, she 
again became a bride. 

The chronicle of the most magnificent ball ever 
given, not only in Washington, but probably in the 
country, and which occurred shortly after her marriage 
to General Williams, hands her name and that of Kate 
Chase Sprague down to fame as the two most beauti- 
ful women who participated in the brilliant event. It 
was given by the French minister, Count de Mouth o- 
lon, by order of his Emperor, in honor of the officers 
of the French fleet then anchored at Annapolis. 

187 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

She gradually, however, abdicated her social queen- 
ship for a crown she wore with no less grace, that of a 
most noble motherhood. 

Wedded to an army man, her life led her from post to 
post, and the greater part of her days from that time 
was spent in the West. 

The little life of the only child of her first marriage 
covered but a few months. The six children of her 
second marriage, however, are all living and grown to 
manhood and womanhood, two of her sons being in 
the military service of their country. 

The last few years of her life were passed in Wash- 
ington, where her husband held the office of Ad- 
jutant-General until his retirement from the service. 
There her eldest daughter was married, in January, 1 899, 
to Lieutenant John Bryson Patton, and there also, on 
the 26th of the same month, her own life terminated. 
Time had touched her lightly, as if he would not rob 
her of a loveliness that had been as much a charm to 
women as to men. Asked once the secret of her 
youthful appearance, she blushed like a girl and con- 
fessed that she was happy, and that therein must lie the 
solution. 

It is difficult to analyze the qualities of that power 
of fascination which some women have exercised over 
the world. They are as varied as the individuality of 
the women to whom they have been intrusted. In 
Adele Cutts, however, they seem to have emanated 
from a singular beauty of soul, a species of primal in- 
nocence that proclaimed itself at once to the sense of 

188 



ADELE CUTTS 

every beholder and preserved her alike from any touch 
of vanity or worldliness. 

To those who knew her she seemed little changed 
as the years rolled on, because to her classic beauty of 
form was added an indestructible quality which was a 
beauty of the spirit. 



189 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

(MRS. HUGHES-HALLETT) 

EVERY Philadelphia girl who has hoped to be a 
belle during this last quarter of the century, and 
even many who have been without social aspi- 
rations, have been brought up on traditions of Emilie 
Schaumburg. 

Yet so eminent was the place she held in the old 
city whose standard of belleship had been fixed far 
back in the colonial days of America, that no one 
has ever succeeded her. 

Accustomed through long generations to women of 
wit, beauty, and a certain unapproachable taste in mat- 
ters of personal adornment, Philadelphia has developed 
a critical instinct which is not easily satisfied 

" The ladies of Philadelphia," wrote Miss Rebecca 
Franks over a century ago, " have more cleverness in 
the turn of an eye than those of New York have in 
their whole composition. With what ease have I seen 
a Chew, a Penn, an Oswald, or an Allen, and a thou- 
sand others, entertain a large circle of both sexes ; the 
conversation, without the aid of cards, never flagging 
nor seeming in the least strained or stupid. Here, in 
New York, you enter the room with a formal set cour- 
tesy, and, after the how-dos, things are finished ; all is 

190 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

dead calm till the cards are introduced, when you see 
pleasure dancing in the eyes of all the matrons, and 
they seem to gain new life." 

It is but just to state that this fair critic of New 
York's social status belonged to Philadelphia, where, 
though her wit was rather of a satirical turn, she was 
noted as a lady possessed of " every human and divine 
advantage." She was the youngest of the three daugh- 
ters of David Franks, one of whom became the wife of 
Oliver de Lancey, another of Andrew Hamilton, of 
" Woodlands," one of the famous suburban estates of 
the city, while Rebecca, " high in toryism and eccen- 
tricity," after an unusually brilliant belleship, bestowed 
her hand on Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Johnston, 
and went to live in England. 

Of the Chews referred to in her letter from New 
York, so sparkling was the conversation which Harriet 
could maintain, that Washington, when he was sitting 
for his portrait to Stuart, liked to have her in the room 
that his face might wear its most agreeable expression, 
such as her wit always induced. She married the son 
of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the young Charles 
Carroll who was at one time suspected of having a 
tender interest in Nellie Custis, Washington's step- 
granddaughter. Her sister Margaret, who was one of 
the beauties who made the great feast of the Mischi- 
anza so famous, also married a son of Maryland, Colo- 
nel John Eager Howard, a patriot and a hero. Pass- 
ing through her room one evening he heard her relating 

to her children the pathetic story of Major Andre, 

191 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

who had been her knight in the tournament of the 
Mischianza. 

" Don't believe a word of it, children," he interrupted, 
as their young hearts swelled with pity at her graphic 
and romantic recital ; " he was an infernal spy." 

Ann Willing, who married William Bingham in her 
seventeenth year, was another woman who helped to 
establish the standard of female beauty and excellence 
in Philadelphia. " She is coming quite into fashion 
here/' John Adams's daughter wrote of her from Lon- 
don, " and is very much admired. The hair-dresser 
who dresses us on court days inquired of mamma 
whether she knew the lady so much talked of here 
from America, Mrs. Bingham. He had heard of her 
from a lady who had seen her at Lord Duncan's." 

London society, and especially that of the court 
circle, was not very favorably disposed towards Ameri- 
cans in the year 1786, and the subsequent graciousness 
of their reception they doubtless owed largely to the 
impression created by the beauty and character of such 
a woman as Mrs. Bingham, who was one of the first to 
seek a presentation at the court of George III. after 
our separation from the mother-country. Her striking 
beauty of face and form, her easy deportment, that had 
all the pride and grace of high breeding, the intelligence 
of her countenance, and the entire affability of her 
attitude disarmed every feeling of unfriendliness and 
converted every one, said Mrs. Adams, into admiration. 

The unfortunate Margaret Shippen, as gifted as she 

was beautiful, deprived by her husband's treason before 

192 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

she was twenty years old of the shelter of her home 
and the protection of her family, the Executive Coun- 
cil of Pennsylvania bidding her to leave the State and 
not return till the close of the war, and Sarah, the 
daughter of Benjamin Franklin and wife of Richard 
Bache, and the embodiment of Republican principles, 
which caused her to insist that there was " no rank in 
America but rank mutton," are two noted examples of 
that diversity which gave flavor to the social life of a 
city that has tempted the pens of both native and 
foreign critics. 

Philadelphia was one of the first of the North- 
ern cities to admit women to the pit of its theatres, 
and visitors from quiet Boston and commercial New 
York at one time condemned its social tone as fast, 
because its young men gave wine-suppers, and because 
it danced to the music of a full colored orchestra, 
known as Johnson's Band, while other cities were per- 
forming their more or less graceful gyrations to the 
tunes furnished by one or two musicians. 

The Quaker town had made a brilliant social record 
before many of the cities of America had so much as 
laid one stone upon another. By comparison it is old. 
It has its elements of newness, like all bodies that grow 
and progress, but they are not readily assimilated by 
that little coterie that long ago laid the foundation of 
its establishment in the southeastern section of the city. 
It is from the predominance of this conservative social 
principle in Philadelphia that people unfamiliar with its 
life have derived the erroneous impression that its gen- 
13 193 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

eral progress and development have been correspond- 
ingly deliberate. 

To hold such a position as Emilie Schaumburg held 
in Philadelphia implies the possession of such personal 
qualities and such gifts as would be an open door to 
the most exclusive society of the world. 

She was well born, coming of ancestry distinguished 
both in their native land and in that of their adoption. 
Her grandfather, Colonel Bartholomew Schaumburg, 
belonged to one of the oldest families in Germany. 
He was a godson and ward of the Landgrave Frederick 
William, with whom he was closely connected. When 
still quite a youth, the Landgrave made him an aide- 
de-camp to Count Donop, who commanded the Hes- 
sian subsidies furnished by Germany to England to aid 
her in the war with the American colonies. 

Schaumburg was sent with despatches to Donop, 
who, however, had been killed before the arrival of his 
young aide-de-camp. Learning for the first time of 
the righteousness of the American cause, he gallantly 
offered his services to the commander-in-chief of the 
American forces. He fought valiantly all through the 
war, and at its close accepted a commission in the 
standing army organized by the new government. At 
the Cotton Centennial held at New Orleans in 1884, 
his commissions signed by Washington were exhibited 
and were objects of much interest. He took part in 
many of the early Indian wars, and was appointed 
quartermaster-general in the war of 1812. ,< 

His home was at New Orleans. His eldest daughter, 

194 




Einilie Schaumburg 

(Mrs. Hughes-Hallett) 

From portrait by Waugh 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

at the time of General Lafayette's visit to that city, 
was one of the twelve young girls selected on account 
of their beauty from its most distinguished families to 
crown America's friend. She lived to an advanced 
age, surviving her eleven companions of that memor- 
able occasion and retaining much of her beauty till the 
close of her life. 

The site of the city of Cincinnati was indirectly 
chosen by Colonel Schaumburg when he selected the 
spot where it later sprung up for the establishment of a 
fort, which he called, in honor of his first American 
friend, Fort Washington. 

He was an accomplished artillerist, and under his 
direction was cast the first cannon made in the United 
States. While stationed in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, upon 
military duty, he met the lady whom he afterwards 
married, and who had not long previously arrived in 
America, whither she had come with her parents to 
trace a recent acquisition of land. 

She was a lineal descendant of the principal Indian 
chief, Secaneh, of the Lenape tribe, who signed the 
treaty of 1683 w ^^ William Penn, selling him the 
large tract of land on which Philadelphia is built. 

The Princess Susahena, the daughter of Secaneh, had 
been married to Thomas Holme McFarlane, a nephew 
of Thomas Holme, who was the first Surveyor-General 
of Pennsylvania. Three years after their marriage they 
sailed for Dublin, but ocean voyages in those days 
were trials to the stoutest constitutions, and the poor 
princess died before reaching the other side. 

195 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Her child, a daughter, lived, and it was the great- 
granddaughter of this child who became the wife of 
Colonel Schaumburg, so that Emilie Schaumburg is the 
seventh generation in lineal descent from the aboriginal 
princess, and attained her remarkable social queenship 
on the native heath of her royal ancestors. 

Mrs. Henry D. Gilpin, who had known Colonel 
Schaumburg's family intimately and had spent much 
time with them in their Southern home, frequently 
spoke of the great beauty of Emilie Schaumburg's 
grandmother, and of the resemblance Emilie bore to 
her. She had the fresh Irish complexion and violet 
eyes, together with suggestions of the Indian type of 
her ancestry in the tall, lithe figure, delicately aquiline 
features, and black hair, which almost swept the ground. 

They were a strikingly handsome couple, for Colo- 
nel Schaumburg was as magnificent in appearance as 
he was conspicuous in courage. He was several inches 
over six feet in height, and clung all his life to pow- 
dered hair and lace ruffles, those outward signs of the 
aristocrat ; yet he adopted republican principles, dropped 
his title, and besought his children to be satisfied with 
the record he should leave them of services rendered 
his adopted country. 

He had declined the overtures made him by his 
family in Germany, from whom he had become 
estranged owing to the course he had pursued in 
espousing the American cause. He had no desire to 
return and resume his career there. 

When his granddaughter, however, visited Germany 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

she was received with marked consideration by the Prin- 
cess of Schaumburg-Lippe, who was reigning at the time. 

True to his principles, Colonel Schaumburg opposed 
the formation of the Society of the Cincinnati, refusing 
to become a member of it, and arguing that it had for 
its object the inauguration of an aristocracy, and was 
in direct opposition to the very principles for which 
they had fought. 

His son followed in his footsteps in selecting a mili- 
tary career. He was graduated from the National 
Military Academy in 1833, and entered the cavalry. 
He was a gallant officer, generous and impetuous, and 
as magnificent in physique as his father. 

He lost his commission through a technicality which 
the War Department turned to his disadvantage, and 
fought all his life for reinstatement, being upheld by 
President Jackson and a majority of the United States 
Senate. 

He had imbibed his father's ideas, and would never 
use the "von" in his name because his father had 
dropped it. When his daughter wished to resume it, 
however, he gave his consent and approval. 

Major Schaumburg married a daughter of Stephen 
Page, originally of Page County, Virginia, and later of 
Eden Park, a beautiful country-seat, near Philadelphia, 
where his children were born. Miss Page, who became 
Mrs. Schaumburg, was a woman of much beauty and 
many accomplishments, which she transmitted to her 
daughter. 

Emilie von Schaumburg grew up in the home of her 

197 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

uncle, Colonel James Page, with whom her name is 
ever identified. Though he was a man of social and 
political prominence, his greatest distinction, in the eyes 
of his fellow-citizens, arose from his relationship to her. 

When this new fame dawned upon him, he had been 
for nearly fifty years a well-known and popular figure 
in the life of the city. His military record had been 
made in his youth during the war of 1812. He had 
been Postmaster and Collector of the Port of Philadel- 
phia, a leader in Councils, County Treasurer in an era 
when politics had gone hand in hand with principle and 
patriotism. He was a Jacksonian Democrat, and had 
come to be looked upon as the grand old man of his 
party, who by birth and breeding could adorn a ball at 
Madam Rush's or make an after-dinner speech with as 
ready a grace as he could march at the head of the 
State Fencibles. 

In no capacity, however, did he attract that peculiar 
interest that pursued him whenever he appeared in 
public with his niece. On winter afternoons, at a time 
when that season was rather longer in the Middle States 
than it is at the close of the century, and when the 
waters of the rivers used to remain fast frozen for many 
days they frequently appeared among the skaters, of 
whom, in his youth, Colonel Page had been one of the 
celebrities. He found new enthusiasm in the graceful 
sport, however, from the admiration he read in all faces 
whenever he went upon the ice with his niece. 

They formed a picture that many paused to look 

upon, while others, who knew nothing of the intrica- 

198 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

cies of the accomplishment, gathered on the river-bank 
solely for the pleasure of watching them as they took 
those wonderfully long, sweeping curves of the " outer 
edge," the lithe figure of the girl seeming to float like a 
bird on the wing, while the splendid poise of the hand- 
some, vigorous old man was as erect, as easy, and as 
firm as in his youth. He always held that the highest 
art in skating was in perfecting, to an almost incredible 
degree, the delicate balance of the body on the outer 
edge of the skate, and so broadening and lengthening 
the curves, which are ever, according to Hogarth, the 
lines of beauty. The result justified the theory, and 
he found an apt pupil in his niece, whose skating, like 
her dancing, was the very poetry of motion. 

The beauty of some women admits of a diversity of 
opinion. Emilie von Schaumburg's did not. It was 
absolute, and the effect was instantaneous. A head 
of classic mould, with its rich adornment of lus- 
trous black hair, proudly poised upon a throat and 
shoulders of perfect form ; an oval face, lighted with a 
fine vivacity and captivating smile ; great hazel eyes 
with dark brows and sweeping lashes ; delicate, regular 
features, and a complexion which no art could imitate 
in its transparent fairness and brilliancy ; a figure, tall 
and svelt, all undulating lines and willowy grace ; a 
regal carriage, and, above all, an air of high-bred ele- 
gance and distinction ; such, in her early girlhood, was 
Emilie von Schaumburg, whom the Prince of Wales 
declared the most beautiful woman he had seen in 

America. 

199 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

It was on that famous night when the visit of His 
Royal Highness to the Academy of Music brought 
thither one of the most distinguished audiences ever 
assembled in Philadelphia. She was dressed with girl- 
ish simplicity in white, her only ornament being a small 
chain of golden sequins, which bound the rich masses 
of her hair and defined her shapely head, yet such was 
the subtle power of her presence, that from the moment 
she entered that crowded assembly, with its tier upon 
tier of brilliantly arrayed women, she became the focus 
of all eyes, dividing the attention of the Prince of 
Wales and the audience with Patti, who was pouring 
out her soul in matchless melody upon the stage. 

One night, a few years ago, during a performance of 
Madame Bernhardt, in Philadelphia, a woman occupy- 
ing one of the boxes, and carrying herself with that 
fine spirit that had been the glory of a previous gener- 
ation, was recognized as Emilie Schaumburg, for so she 
still is, and forever will be known, among the people 
of her own city and country. 

The discovery flew from mouth to mouth, and many 
who had never before seen her, as well as those who 
looked upon her for the first time after many years, and 
recalled that memorable night at the Academy of 
Music, bent upon her a gaze of unmistakable admiration. 

Her education was principally directed by Hon. 
Henry Gilpin, who was the Attorney-General of Van 
Buren's administration, and a most finished scholar. 

To the many advantages she enjoyed in having 
access to his library she subsequently added a thor- 



200 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

ough knowledge of several modern languages, for her 
intellectual endowments were in no degree inferior to 
her physical gifts. Though she had a fine artistic sense 
and an almost incredible facility in the acquirement 
of knowledge, she yet early recognized the necessity of 
serious study and intelligent application. 

In this recognition and the ability to comply with 
its requirements, perhaps, more than in any other 
thing, lies the vast difference between the mere butter- 
fly of society and the woman who leaves the impress 
of her individuality upon the life in which she moves. 

Emilie Schaumburg never attempted a thing for 
which she had no special talent, but, having once un- 
dertaken a study, she pursued it with enthusiasm, fol- 
lowing its every detail to the limit of her capacity. To 
an admirer, who once exclaimed, " Is there anything 
in the world you cannot do, and do brilliantly *?" she 
replied, " Yes : I was a dismal failure at both sewing 
and arithmetic." 

Her voice, in speaking as in singing, lent itself to 
every delicate inflection. She would delight, when still 
a very young child, to imitate. Each new song she 
caught with an unerring ear, the florid passages, rou- 
lades, and trills flowing as easily and naturally from the 
childish throat as from that of a bird. This marvel- 
lously flexible quality of voice she has never lost. In 
speaking of her musical education, she once said to a 
friend, 

"I have had to study phrasing and style and ex- 
pression, with sostenuto, crescendo, diminuendo, and 

201 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

various other artistic effects, but the drudgery of exer- 
cises was spared me, thanks to my fairy godmother." 

She has always retained her habits of study, and 
even during her first brilliant season in Paris she found 
time to take lessons from Madame La Grange and also 
from the celebrated teacher Delle Sedie. Later, how- 
ever, at Nice, she studied more consecutively with 
Maestro Gelli, who recognized the unusual order of her 
talents and wrote several beautiful morceaux expressly 
for her. 

Her beauty and accomplishments were the open 
sesame to the exclusive circles of the villa society at 
Nice, and among the many distinguished people whom 
she delighted with her rare gifts was the late lamented 
Duke of Albany. Like most of the royal family of 
England, he was an accomplished critic and an ardent 
lover of music. He was enthusiastic in his praise of 
Miss von Schaumburg's singing, and when she again 
met him, a year or two later, at a court-ball at Buck- 
ingham Palace, his greeting proved that he had not 
forgotten the impression it had made upon him. His 
first words were, " And how is the beautiful voice *?" 

Before she left Philadelphia her histrionic talents had 
perhaps made her more widely known than any other 
of her many accomplishments. During the war for 
the Union, when the stage was the means of raising 
many dollars for the benefit of the wounded and suf- 
fering soldiers, she was foremost among the bright and 
spirited society women who devoted their talents to the 
cause. 

202 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

Her dramatic success was due neither to her beauty 
nor to her personal charm, though her expressive features, 
her voice, and her perfect grace and ease were undoubt- 
edly powerful adjuncts. Her triumphs were legitimate, 
and were the result of careful study, artistic finish, and 
unusual histrionic ability. That she possessed, in an 
extraordinary degree, the power of getting out of her- 
self and into her parts was evidenced by the tribute 
contained in the criticism of some friends who went to 
see her in " Masks and Faces." They had gone, they 
said, solely to see Miss Schaumburg, whom, however, 
they soon forgot, their interest becoming absorbed in 
the brilliant, fascinating, impulsive Peg. 

Yet Emilie Schaumburg was a very young girl when 
she stepped upon the amateur stage of the Seventeenth- 
Street Drawing-Room, and had never had a lesson in 
declamation nor a suggestion from any one to help her 
in the study of her parts. To be able to forget one's 
identity, and to make one's audience forget it, is, after 
all, the acme of high art in acting, or, rather, it is the 
touch of genius which is above art, since it can not be 
taught. 

As Peg Woffington in " Masks and Faces," and as 
the Countess in the " Ladies' Battle," she carried con- 
servative and critical audiences by storm. Ristori, who 
was present at one of the performances, expressed un- 
qualified admiration at the high order of Miss Schaum- 
burg's talent, for both roles are considered tests to 
trained actresses. 

She scored another success in the little operetta, 

203 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

" Les Noces de Jeannette," which she sang and acted in 
French, and in which the piece de resistance is the great 
air du ros signal. There are many people in Philadel- 
phia to-day who yet recall the brilliancy and daring of 
those tours de forces between the voice and the flute, 
each one in turn taking up the refrain and soaring 
higher and higher in imitation of the nightingale ; yet 
there was never a harsh or strained note in her perfect 
voice, but all as liquid, pure, and full-throated as the 
warbling of the veritable bird. 

Another of the gifts she possessed was for versifica- 
tion. She brought it into frequent and graceful play, 
but only for the enjoyment of those who were admitted 
to the privilege of an intimate friendship with her. 

It is little wonder that Emilie von Schaumburg 
should have made an impress upon the city of her 
nativity which has remained proof against time and 
absence. No woman ever won a more spontaneous 
admiration than fell to her lot. She never appeared 
upon the streets that she was not surrounded and fol- 
lowed by both men and women, who, frequently with- 
out knowing her, came simply to look upon her beauty 
and glory in her possession. 

She married, in England, Colonel Hughes-Hallett, 
of the Royal Artillery, and member of Parliament for 
Rochester. She resides now during the greater part of 
the year at Dinard, in France, where she built, some 
years ago, the beautiful chateau of Montplaisir. 

Still a strikingly handsome and distinguished woman, 

she gathers about her the aristocracy of both France 

204 



EMILIE SCHAUMBURG 

and England as well as the most eminent and charm- 
ing of her compatriots. She entertains during each 
season with that same graciousness of hospitality with 
which she once presided in her uncle's home in Phila- 
delphia. 

She recently added a ball-room to Monplaisir which 
she inaugurated by a series of concerts and balls, among 
the picturesque features of the latter being minuets, 
gavottes, and a cotillon. 

Gowned in a white and silver brocade Watteau, with 
panniers, over a pink satin petticoat trimmed with 
flounces of old lace, headed with wreaths of roses of 
a deeper pink, her powdered hair crowned with a black 
Gainsborough hat with black, white, and pink plumes, 
Mrs. Hughes-Hallett took part in one of the stately 
gavottes, making a beautiful picture against the deli- 
cate blue background and Louis Quinze decorations of 
her artistic ball-room. 

A life filled with adulation, that would have been 
the undoing of a less wise woman, has in no way im- 
paired her charm of character. Her fine mental poise, 
her exquisite humor, together with the generosity and 
sweetness of her nature, have preserved her from that 
calamitous sense of satiety that has overtaken many a 
man and many a woman who have lost their balance 
completely in an altitude of admiration much below 
that in which Emilie von Schaumburg has passed her 
life. 



205 



KATE CHASE 

(MRS. WILLIAM SPRAGUE) 

THERE was a name in America a little more than 
a generation ago that possessed a power amount- 
ing almost to enchantment, the name of Kate 
Chase, a woman who holds a unique place in both the 
political and social history of this century. The story 
of her life, between the high lights of its early days 
and the shadows in which it closed, presents a peculiar 
succession of superlatives. There stands forth, how- 
ever, through all its changes, one unvarying dominant 
feature which must strike us at once, whether we ap- 
proach it in the spirit of a student or actuated merely 
by a passing curiosity : her absolute devotion to her 
father. Through our knowledge of him, therefore, we 
may, in a measure, penetrate those mists in which she 
is enveloped by the divided opinion of a public, some 
of whom loved and idealized her as a social divinity, 
while others hated and maligned her as an opposing 
political force. Thus may we reach some just valuation 
of a character that with its man's virility and woman's 
delicacy was in itself singularly enigmatical, of its in- 
centives and ideals, and, indirectly, therefore, of the 
failure and disappointments which have left their in- 
delible stamp upon the life of Kate Chase. 

In her father, profoundly cultured and endowed with 

206 



KATE CHASE 

inexhaustible intellectual resources, she found the com- 
plete realization of her most exalted conception. She 
well knew the tenderness of the heart, the sensitiveness 
of the nature, he carried beneath that superb exterior of 
majestic and unapproachable dignity. She lived in close 
communion with the man, the angry rebuke of whose 
eye, says one of his biographers, no transgressor could 
support. She was the central feature of his remarkable 
home. Upon both of his daughters he expended a 
tenderness of devotion of which those who lived beyond 
the sphere of a personal acquaintance with him had no 
conception. Yet there have been inconspicuous women 
whom he might have fathered with more ultimate hap- 
piness to themselves than the remarkable daughter who 
is the subject of this sketch. Though he was a great 
man, winning justifiable distinction in every branch of 
the government of his country, he was yet not compe- 
tent to cope with the problems which the life of such a 
woman as Kate Chase was continually presenting. In 
her presence alone, in the proud carriage of her regal 
head, there was that singular power that, while it drew 
forth the love and admiration that are the expression 
of a generous nature, likewise provoked in those of a 
baser order a hideous envy and hatred that assailed her 
even as a young girl. With his benignant belief in 
the universal goodness of mankind, Chase was sin- 
gularly deficient in that knowledge of human nature 
which should have enabled him to throw about her 
that sort of aggressive protection which she peculiarly 

required. 

207 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

There is one little incident in his life that throws 
light upon his own character, and upon the principle he 
pursued in directing his daughter. He was a man of 
the most delicate tastes and with a high appreciation of 
all the niceties of life. When he took the platform 
as an abolitionist, he was rotten-egged. Removing as 
much as possible of the offensive effusion with his 
handkerchief, he continued with what he was saying. 
He made no modification in his statements, nor did he 
close the window through which the unsavory missiles 
had made their entrance. As far as possible he ignored 
the occurrence. 

The scandal-monger he treated with the same silent 
scorn, continuing the tenor of his life as if he had not 
been made aware of his existence. But while he, a 
courageous man, might walk fearlessly amid the storm 
of the angry nation that impeached Andrew Johnson, 
and, regardless of its threats, discharge the duties of his 
high office with that calmness that distinguished all the 
acts of his judicial career and adds to the glory of his 
name in the eyes of a later generation, his daughter, 
though no less courageous, was yet " too slight a thing" 
to defy the gossips of even one Western town. " Ah ! 
little woman," she once said, laying her hand on the 
shoulder of one of her loyal friends to whom sorrow 
had come, " you, at least, have never made the mistake 
that I made. I never cared for the opinion or good- 
will of people. I ran my head against a stone wall. 
It did not hurt the wall but it has hurt the head." This 

is perhaps the nearest approach to self-justification she 

208 



KATE CHASE 

ever made for having essayed, with a man's indepen- 
dence, to live that most circumscribed life of a conspic- 
uously beautiful woman. 

Losing her own mother when she was scarcely beyond 
her infancy, and her step-mother before she had reached 
womanhood, and realizing early that she was treated in 
all things as his equal in years and understanding by the 
man whose superiority among his fellow-men she con- 
ceived to be beyond question, that spirit of self-reliance 
that is the natural outcome of all positive characters 
was intensified in her to an abnormal degree. While it 
gave her the fundamental qualifications of that leader- 
ship which she maintained with unparalleled brilliancy, 
it likewise, through lack of direction, developed that 
imperious tendency that proved so fatal to her own 
happiness. 

She was the first child of Chase's marriage to his 
second wife, Eliza Ann Smith, and was named by her 
mother after his first wife, Katherine Garniss, for whom 
she had had a tender friendship and sincere admiration. 

Of her birth, which occurred on the 1 3th of August, 
1 840, her father's journal contains the following record, 
a characteristic statement of the event from a God-fear- 
ing man whose knowledge, not only of children, but 
of the human family in general, was largely drawn 
from "judicious treatises." 

" I went apart, and kneeling down prayed God to 
support and comfort my dear wife, to preserve the life 
of the child, and save both from sin. I endeavored to 

give up the child and all into His hands. After a while 
14 209 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

I went into the room. The birth had taken place at 2 
A.M. on the 13th. After I had seen my wife and child, 
I went into the library and read a few pages in Eber's 
book on children, a judicious treatise. At last I became 
tired, and, though it was now day, lay down and slept 
awhile. The babe is pronounced pretty. I think it 
quite otherwise. It is, however, well formed, and I am 
thankful. May God give the child a good understand- 
ing that she may know and keep his commandments." 

Of the early age at which Chase elected to test that 
understanding, his journal also furnishes an evidence. 
An entry therein, under date of November 24, 1845, 
about two months after her mother's death, shows the 
dawn of that remarkable intellectual intercourse which 
he maintained with his daughter till the end of his life. 
" This day," it reads, " has been marked by no extraor- 
dinary event. Rose, as usual of late, before sunrise ; 
breakfasted with sister Alice and little Kate. Read 
Scriptures (Job) to little Kate, who listened and seemed 
to be pleased, probably with the solemn rhythm, for she 
certainly can understand very little ; then prayed with 
her ; then to town in omnibus, unshaven for want of 
time." 

Within that same year he also recorded in his journal 
that he was teaching " dear little Kate to read verses in 
the Bible and listening to her recite poems." 

Thus early, without any particular system probably, 
but wholly delightfully and under a most patient and 
winning master, begun the training of one of the most 
astute and brilliant minds with which a woman was 

2IO 



KATE CHASE 

ever gifted. She was keen and clever rather than pro- 
found, and her quick intelligence caught and assimilated 
the fruit of her father's years of study. Without having 
his absorbing love of books, she yet read much and 
forgot nothing. Chase used to say that in the miscel- 
laneous reading of his boyhood, it was the pleasure he 
derived from a stray law-book that determined his 
choice of career. He pursued his profession with the 
ardor of real love, and his daughter imbibed from him a 
substantial knowledge of its technicalities. He used to 
go over his cases with her very much at first in the 
spirit in which he had read Job to her, later because he 
delighted in her understanding, and finally because she 
had become genuinely helpful to him. 

Well ordered and simple was the atmosphere of the 
home in which she grew up. As was his custom from 
the time he established his own home till the end of his 
life, Chase called his household together at the begin- 
ning of every day to ask the blessing and protection of 
God. There were times, as seen from his journal, when 
little Kate seems to have been his only companion, yet 
the duty was never omitted. 

She walked with him often to his office or to court in 
the morning, both in Ohio and after they had removed 
to Washington, talking sometimes of the things which 
interested her, but more frequently of those which en- 
grossed him, for it was his life and his ambitions that 
gave color to both of their existences. He had taught 
her early his favorite games, chess and backgammon, 
which she often played with him in the quiet evenings 



211 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

they spent together, or, if it were out of doors, croquet 
or some simple childish game, for she was part of the 
relaxation of his lighter hours as she was the repository 
of all the confidences and hopes of his public career. 

His third marriage, in 1846, to Sarah Ludlow identi- 
fied him with one of the prominent families of Cincin- 
nati ; Israel Ludlow, his wife's grandfather, having been 
one of the founders of the city. Chase, himself, though 
an Eastern man, born in Cornish, New Hampshire, 
whence he had migrated on coming of age, was now 
one of the prominent figures of Cincinnati, a busy, 
prosperous lawyer, with excellent political prospects, 
which met their first realization when, in 1 849, he was 
elected to the United States Senate. When he came, 
six years later, into the governorship of his State he 
was again a widower, and Kate, though less than fifteen 
years of age, took her place at the head of his home. 

Accustomed since the dawn of memory to the most 
considerate attentions from the most kingly of men, 
she already carried herself with that noble grace that 
made her presence felt in every assemblage above that 
of all others, no matter how simply she clothed herself 
nor how quietly she deported herself. 

Chase was the first of Ohio's governors to take up 
his official residence at Columbus. There, for a year, 
Kate went as a day pupil to Mr. Heyl's seminary, and 
later studied in the same institution music and lan- 
guages, having for the latter an unusual gift. She spoke 
French faultlessly, especially after her long residence 
abroad, which came later in her life. Her German, while 



212 



CAW 




Kate Chase 

(Mrs. William Sprague) 
From photograph hy Julius Ulke 



KATE CHASE 

it was fluent, had always a suggestion of a foreign 
accent that in her seemed rather pleasing than other- 
wise. Her native tongue she wielded with rare perfec- 
tion, and no one who has heard Kate Chase talk will 
ever forget the magic of her voice, the life her graphic 
and discriminating language breathed into every thought 
to which she gave utterance, while her wonderful eyes 
expressed, even betrayed, every emotion. An old man 
who served the Chase family for years in the capacity 
of coachman once paid a tribute to the delicacy and 
power of her verbal delineations which many a man of 
more enlightened intelligence more gracefully, perhaps, 
but not more aptly acknowledged. He said he knew 
no greater pleasure than to take Miss Kate off in the 
carriage with a book in her lap, and, without opening it, 
for her to tell him every word that it contained from 
beginning to end. 

The positive element of her character had already 
manifested itself by the time she was sixteen years old. 
She was, at about that period, out of compliment to 
her father, elected to the secretaryship of a charitable 
organization of women, all of whom were many years 
her senior. During the course of one of the meetings, 
a physician, of whose services the body had availed 
itself, and who had given offence to some of its mem- 
bers, was made the object of an abuse as senseless as 
it was verbose. The spirit of opposition was more 
timorous in the feminine organization of that day than 
it is in those that have been the outgrowths of later 
years, and Kate Chase, alone, had the courage to rise 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

in defence of the absent doctor. Appealing to the 
chair to silence the undignified outburst, she won on 
the spot an ill-will that followed her long after those 
who cherished it had forgotten its original cause. But 
her young life was full of a sweet homage, and such a 
graceful tribute as was conveyed in the knowledge that 
one of the ex-governors of the State had named the 
most beautiful rose in his famous garden after her, easily 
atoned for the ill-will of a few people which seemed, 
after all, but a ripple on the ever-broadening surface of 
her life. 

The growing strength of the Republican party, which 
had been ushered into existence in her father's law 
offices in Cincinnati, under the inspiration of Dr. Ga- 
maliel Baily, revealed possibilities to a man of Chase's 
ambition and ability that haunted him thenceforth till 
the end of his life. Kate knew intimately the strong 
men who formed the nucleus of that great party. She 
knew its aims and purposes, and was in possession of its 
secret history contained in her father's letters and jour- 
nals and in her own memory of its inception and prog- 
ress. Yet nothing ever wrung them from her, though 
she was frequently approached by magazine editors with 
offers that would have been a temptation even to those 
in less need. 

Her father's ambition became the absorbing object 
of her life, developing in her, before she had reached 
her twentieth year, a scientific knowledge of politics 
that no woman, and few men, have ever surpassed. " I 

know your bright mind," once wrote Roscoe Conkling, 

214 



KATE CHASE 

in submitting to her a political problem, " will solve 
this quicker than mine." It has been said that many 
details of the campaign of 1884, a g amst Blaine, who 
was Conkling's political enemy, were planned at Edge- 
wood. 

To an intellect naturally endowed with many mas- 
culine qualities, she added a woman's quicker wit and 
greater powers of divination and an overmastering love 
for the father in whose interest she exercised every 
faculty of her gifted mind. 

When the first convention of the Republican party 
met at Chicago, in 1860, to nominate a president, Chase 
was a prominent candidate for that honor. His daugh- 
ter accompanied him to Chicago, and thence for the 
first time her name went forth over the land. His con- 
fidence in her, his reliance upon her, treating her in all 
respects more as if she were a son than a daughter, 
her youth, and the purely feminine quality of her beauty 
rendered her unique and conspicuous. 

The choice of the new party fell upon Abraham 
Lincoln, and Seward, who supported him and opposed 
Chase's pretensions, received later the recognition of his 
services when he was tendered the first place in Lincoln's 
cabinet. Chase was, however, elected for the second 
time to the United States Senate, where he took his seat 
March 4, 1861. Two days later he had resigned and 
gone into Lincoln's cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury. 
His home was thus transferred to Washington, where, 
going later on the Supreme Bench, he passed the balance 
of his days, neither he nor his children ever returning to 

215 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Ohio. Chase was even laid to rest in Washington, and 
slept over thirteen years in beautiful Oak Hill. In the 
fall of 1886, however, his daughter had him removed 
to Ohio, that he might rest finally in the State that had 
been his home and that was associated with his early 
fame. There, a few months ago, she was laid by his 
side. 

At the capital of the nation Kate Chase attained a 
social prestige never before enjoyed by so young a 
woman, and a political power which no woman before 
or since her day has ever possessed. Men of such 
eminence and distinction paid her the court of an 
homage so absolute that it would be difficult to esti- 
mate how much of her father's prominence was owing 
to her. Radiant as she was in her youth and beauty, 
the most lovable side of her character ever discovered 
itself in her tender, worshipping affection for him. 

In September, 1860, some months before Chase left 
Ohio, there was unveiled at Cleveland, on the shores 
of the Lake to which his valor brought fame, a statue 
of Commodore Perry, many of the States sending 
deputations to do honor to his memory. At the head 
of Rhode Island's troops, in the military parade which 
opened the ceremonies of the day, rode the governor of 
that State, his alert young figure impressing itself upon 
all the spectators of the scene. That night, during the 
ball at the Kennard House which closed the event of 
the day, Colonel Richard Parsons presented him to Kate 
Chase. She was twenty years old at the time, and her 

slender young figure already possessed that beautiful 

216 



KATE CHASE 

symmetry that later found such unqualified favor in the 
eyes of Worth, that great modern connoisseur of the 
proportions of the female figure, drawing from him such 
commendation as he never accorded to any other woman. 
In a ball-gown showing the faultless contour of her neck 
and throat, and the exquisite poise of her lovely head, 
she was the revelation of a perfection which the human 
form rarely attains. Hazel eyes, auburn hair, and the 
marvellous whiteness of skin that usually accompanies 
this combination, a full, low, broad brow, mobile lips, 
a small, round chin, and a nose whose suggestion of an 
upward tilt added its own peculiar touch of piquancy 
to a face that was altogether charming rather than 
classically beautiful, thus to the eye was Kate Chase, 
whose fame then superseded that of every woman in 
Ohio, and was shortly to surpass that of every woman 
of her generation in America. That she should hold 
the interested attention of not only one but several 
men for hours at a time was no unusual spectacle to 
the people among whom her belleship days had dawned 
early. Governor Sprague's devotion to her, however, 
on the night that he first met her, because he was a dis- 
tinguished stranger and a man of prominence in his 
own State, and because there seemed, perhaps, in the 
entire situation many of the elements of romance, be- 
came at once a subject of interested comment. 

The outbreak of the war took him to Washington. 
Still governor of his State, he had raised a regiment 
and equipped it at his own expense, for he was a man 

of immense wealth. His generosity, his patriotism, 

217 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

and his valor at Bull Run, together with his youth and 
the success of his political career, appealed to the enthu- 
siasm of his countrymen. The news not only that he 
was to marry, but to marry a woman so universally 
idolized as was Kate Chase, heightened the effect his 
achievements had already produced upon the mind of 
the public. With a delicate sort of beauty and a 
somewhat clerical appearance that belied his reputa- 
tion for military prowess, he had at the moment a 
fame quite equal to that of his bride. Their marriage, 
which took place at Washington on the 12th of No- 
vember, 1863, was the social event of that turbulent 
period. All the details of the ceremony and of the 
reception which followed it, and which were planned by 
her, were on a scale of magnificence worthy of the 
woman whose advent into Washington had marked a 
new epoch in its social history. 

She was the inspiration of the wedding-march com- 
posed for the occasion and played by the Marine Band. 
Under circumstances when a plain woman is an interest- 
ing figure, of what moment was not the appearance of 
one who could not, even on ordinary occasions, enter a' 
church without her presence being in some mysterious 
way heralded to its remotest recesses so that every head 
involuntarily turned towards her ! To those who beheld 
her on that day she was the beautiful realization of the 
ideal bride, and the life opening before her promised 
every possible happiness. The ceremony was witnessed 
by many men and women whose names were then 

household words when the eyes of the whole nation, 

218 



KATE CHASE 

watching the direction of the war, were fixed on 
Washington. 

The first days of their married life were spent in 
Rhode Island, where Mr. Sprague built for his bride the 
beautiful home that was worthy of her lofty concep- 
tions of a magnificent existence, Canonchet. It was 
one of the first of the palatial homes of that period, 
and of which this country now possesses so many, and 
the cost of its construction was unprecedented in the 
annals of a people incredibly rich in all life's comforts, 
but with their luxuriant tendencies for the most part 
still latent. 

From the governorship of his State Sprague went 
into the United States Senate, and Kate Chase appeared 
in Washington as the wife of the youngest member of 
that body. The elegance of the new home there over 
which she presided, her husband's wealth and promi- 
nence, her maturer beauty, and the dignity with which 
she carried a matron's honors, all tended to bring her 
before the popular imagination in a more enchanting 
light than even the glories of her girlhood had done. 

The birth of her first child, a son, was a matter of 
national interest, and the press of the day contained 
lengthy accounts of the dawn of the little life for which 
fate held in store so forlorn and tragic an ending. His 
christening robe was as elaborately described as if it had 
been that of a royal infant, and the figures of the hand- 
some settlement made upon him were widely published. 

Chase, however, still loomed the central figure of his 

daughter's life, for he continued to confide in her and 

219 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

take counsel with her in all that concerned him per- 
sonally, as well as those measures that hand his name 
down as that of the greatest Secretary who ever pre- 
sided in the Treasury Department. He was the intel- 
lectual power of Lincoln's cabinet, and though he con- 
tributed much to the success of his administration, 
there was small sympathy between the men personally, 
and being overruled by the President in some of the 
details of his department, Chase, in 1864, resigned his 
position as a member of the cabinet. Donn Piatt, who 
was one of the many young Ohioans to whom he was 
a shining example and a high ideal, said of Chase, that 
though he came in direct and intimate contact with 
Lincoln for three years, he never appreciated nor under- 
stood the man who could clear the heavy atmosphere 
of a cabinet meeting, called to consider some such stu- 
pendous proposition as the emancipation proclamation, 
by a hearty laugh, induced by the reading of a chapter 
from Artemus Ward. Lincoln, however, with his keen 
knowledge of human nature, discerned Chase's character 
more readily, and justly estimating the judicial qualities 
of his superior mind, he sent his nomination as Chief 
Justice of the United States to the Senate. It was im- 
mediately and unanimously confirmed by that body, and 
on the 6th of December, 1864, Chase, already a great 
man, entered upon the duties of that office, to which, 
with one exception, no name has given greater renown. 
On February 24, 1868, the House of Representatives 
passed a resolution to impeach the President of the 
United States. During his trial, which terminated on 

220 



KATE CHASE 

May 26 of the same year, the country passed through 
a storm of violent political passion. Above the roar of 
an angry people and the threats which assailed him daily 
from all sections of the country, rose the august pres- 
ence of the great Chief Justice, hearing but not heed- 
ing, feeling but not fearing their sting. Throughout 
the country there was no name more frequently heard 
during those days than that of Chase, and in Washing- 
ton the President himself was not a more prominent 
figure. He followed his usual custom of walking to 
the court in the mornings, being frequently accompanied 
by the daughter who had so often been his companion 
in days when there had rested upon him no such burden 
as the grave question then in hand imposed. She forms 
one of the bright spots in the memory of that dark 
period, and he often lifted his eyes during the sessions 
of the court to refresh them with a glimpse of her face, 
in whose luminous sympathy there was inspiration. 
She sat in the gallery of the court chamber every day, 
surrounded always by men whose names go down in 
history among those of the foremost of their period 
and country, Garfield, Conkling, Sherman, Carl Schurz, 
with Grant, the military idol of the hour, and Greeley, 
of editorial eminence. 

The chief-justiceship of his country is generally sup- 
posed to fill the measure of a man's political aspirations. 
Upon Chase, however, the honors of his office imposed 
no such quietus, and in 1868 he again came forward for 
the Presidential nomination. As a Democrat, who had 
left his party only on the slavery question, he offered 



221 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

himself as a candidate for the nomination of that party. 
During the convention, which met in New York, Mrs. 
Sprague, more ably with her maturer mind and greater 
resources at her command than she had possessed in 
1860, endeavored to bring about the realization of that 
dream of his whole public life. She was the first, how- 
ever, to recognize the fact that the only platform on 
which he could secure the nomination asked more than 
he could honorably grant. Chase, watching the con- 
vention from a distance, confirmed her judgment. 

Our history furnishes the names of three men whose 
ungratified ambition for the Presidency robbed them of 
their motive in life. Chase, however, survived his dis- 
appointment longer than either Webster or Elaine. 
He was, by nature, profoundly religious, and he endeav- 
ored to support with Christian heroism a blow whose 
crushing force undermined his very vitality. In 1870 
he suffered a physical collapse, from which, however, 
stimulated by his remarkable will-power, he rallied so 
far as to be able to resume his duties on the Supreme 
Bench. 

On March 23, 1871, the younger of his daughters, 
the child of his third marriage, was married to William 
Sprague Hoyt, of New York, a cousin of her sister's 
husband. Her wedding fastened another brilliant 
memory upon her father's Washington home at Sixth 
and E Streets. In the drawing-room, to which she had 
already brought so much fame, Kate Chase again stood 
beside her father, and their presence on that day consti- 
tutes to many people still living at the capital a memory- 



222 



KATE CHASE 

picture which, with all deference to the bride, yet super- 
sedes all others of that eventful day. He was a mag- 
nificent man, over six feet in height, fair as a Saxon in 
coloring, with a fine head, clearly defined and well- 
made features, and a noble beauty of countenance ; 
and she, robed in blue velvet of a turquoise tone, that 
brought out the glorious red-gold of her hair and the 
hazel of her eyes, with an Elizabethan collar rolling 
high about her patrician neck, tall, slender, and full of 
willowy grace. Perhaps the picture abides because it 
was the last before the falling of those lengthening 
shadows whence neither ever emerged. 

On the 4th of March, 1873, Chase administered the 
oath of office to President Grant, and in May of the 
same year he occupied his chair as Chief Justice for the 
last time. A few days before the last on which he had 
felt able to go to court, his daughters and his grandchil- 
dren, whom he was accustomed to have much with 
him, being away from him, a sudden sense of loneli- 
ness, a yearning for some loving human presence, seems 
to have overpowered him, for he wrote to a young 
relative in New York that he was going to her to be 
for a while with her and her children. The day after 
he arrived, however, he went forth quietly and perhaps 
suddenly on that lonely voyage whence neither love 
nor the glow of any human presence may withhold 
us when it comes to be our turn. His body was sent 
back to Washington, where it arrived on Sunday morn- 
ing, the nth of May. There, clad in the awful dig- 
nity of death, he lay a day and a night within the bar 

223 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of the court his living presence had rendered so illus- 
trious. A simple wreath of white rosebuds, not more 
spotless than the life of him they crowned, was the last 
offering of the daughter to whom his death, so far as 
the world knew, brought her first sorrow. 

She had, however, already come to the turn in her 
short road of happiness, and had confronted not alone 
the spectre of disillusion, which in itself would have 
been formidable enough to a woman of her tem- 
perament, but a substantial form of unhappiness that 
neither her pride nor a brave spirit that never quailed 
before it could long conceal. Her life has been so 
probed, so bared to the scrutiny of the world, that but 
little of its sorrow can be left to conjecture. That in 
one of her own deficiencies lay undoubtedly the cause 
of much of her unhappiness, while it served to render 
others less culpable, in no degree lessened the force of 
the misery it entailed upon her. 

A knowledge of the proper value of money, abnor- 
mally developed in many, was totally lacking in Kate 
Chase. It appealed to her simply as a means of grati- 
fying the needs and wishes of the moment, never as 
something to be hoarded for the satisfying of those of a 
future time. History contains the names of many men 
and women otherwise illustrious but born apparently 
with the same defect. The great wealth which came 
to her through her marriage she expended lavishly, 
not alone upon herself, but upon all whose happiness 
it was thus in her power to augment, for such princely 

natures are rarely selfish. She gave, all her life, fre- 

224 



KATE CHASE 

quently with a generosity wholly out of proportion 
to her means. Sprague probably did not realize her 
munificent tendencies till after the shrinkage in his 
fortune caused by the financial panic of the early sev- 
enties. They then became the cause of those fatal 
misunderstandings whence sprung later conditions of in- 
supportable wretchedness. A divorce was granted her 
by the courts of New York, with permission to resume 
her maiden name, of which she availed herself some 
years later, when Sprague married again. 

With her three daughters she retired to " Edge- 
wood," a suburban home on the hills two miles north 
of Washington, which had come to her from her 
father and which is closely identified with the last years 
of both their lives. The house, an ample unadorned 
brick structure, stands on the brow of a hill overlooking 
the river, the city, and other hills in its vicinity. From 
her father she had also inherited an income somewhat 
smaller than might have been anticipated, for, although 
he had piloted the nation through the financial difficul- 
ties of the war, his personal finances were not flourish- 
ing. She found a legal adviser in a friend of her father's 
who had been a frequent visitor at Edgewood during 
Chase's lifetime, attracted thither both by his admira- 
tion for Chase and by the pleasure of that intercourse 
with his gifted daughter which he shared in common 
with many men of brilliant minds, few of whom ever 
came in contact with her without succumbing to 
a species of intellectual infatuation. With all the 

feminine graces that attract, however, she had many 
15 225 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of a man's characteristics, and was capable of maintain- 
ing their intercourse at all times on an intellectual foot- 
ing. The idle gossip of people who had no conception 
of the true loftiness of her soul, magnified by those 
who still felt and feared her political power, cast its 
blight upon her life. Silently scorning a world that so 
cruelly misinterpreted her, she voluntarily abandoned 
her place in its midst. 

She took her children to Europe and there educated 
them, remaining as long as her resources would permit. 
When they were exhausted she came home. Edge- 
wood gave her a sorry welcome. Everywhere, within 
and without, it showed signs of long neglect. Yet 
such as it was, it was home and full of memories of 
her father, whose portrait still hung in its broad hall- 
way, and whose marble bust still adorned its library. 
There, too, were his beloved books that he had craved 
in his youth when he had turned from nature, which 
became, however, the tender solace of his ailing years, 
when he liked to be alone with her and his own 
thoughts, while he took long tramps over the hills. 
There, during the last three years of his life, he had 
pursued conscientiously that tranquil existence which 
he realized could alone prolong his days. To his 
daughter it was all that remained, and even it was slip- 
ping from her grasp. The men of her father's genera- 
tion were gone, and she was as a stranger in the land 
that had once resounded with the echo of her name. 

Edgewood was advertised for public sale. Some- 
thing of its history crept into the press of the country. 

226 



KATE CHASE 

It struck a chord of memory and appealed to a class of 
men who had the means of gratifying their sympathies, 
men of a younger generation, but who venerated the 
memory of Chase and gave substantial proof of their 
veneration when they saved his home for the daughter 
he had so idolized. 

She never evinced any desire to resume her place in 
that life in which she had once been a motive power. 

Among those who knew her best she had loyal friends 
who loved and admired her to the end. Her servants 
had always worshipped her, and her own children fre- 
quently lost themselves in the spell her presence wrought. 

Her eldest daughter went upon the stage, but married 
shortly after her debut and abandoned whatever hopes 
she may have had of a histrionic career. 

It was a singular fate that the last days in the life of 
a woman whose youth had scarcely known a moment's 
exemption from the pursuit of an admiring world 
should have been passed almost exclusively in the 
society of the gentle daughter, whom she ever lovingly 
called her little Kitty. 

Two loyal canine friends followed in her footsteps to 
the last, studying all her movements with a vigilance 
that was not without its measure of flattery, and re- 
ceiving from her a degree of consideration that she 
never failed to show to those of lowly condition in 
whom she recognized merit not always visible to a 
more conventional eye. Often the only sound about 
the lonely house that greeted an occasional visitor, was 

the friendly thump of the collie's tail against the porch 

227 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

floor, the shrill tone of inquiry in Chiffon's bark, or 
the melancholy wail of a violin. When Edgewood 
was finally closed and abandoned after Kate Chase's 
death, new homes were found for her two dog friends : 
for the collie, at Brook land, a suburb of Washington, 
and for the terrier, in the city itself. A few days later 
both had disappeared, and a boy who had occasion to 
go to Edgewood found them on the porch of the 
deserted house. It had been a long tramp for them, 
especially for the little terrier, which had had to thread 
its way across the city. Buoyed up with hope, they 
had arrived from their opposite directions only to re- 
alize that a life which at least had been happy for them, 
had come to its end. 

With that rare courage with which she had borne all 
the other ills of her life, Kate Chase endured uncom- 
plainingly the physical sufferings which its closing days 
brought to her, endeavoring at first to put them from 
her and with an aching body to go on heroically with 
her daily life as she had often done with an aching 
heart. She surrendered only a few days before the end, 
realizing then the unusual gravity of her condition, and 
in the small hours of the morning of the 3ist of July, 
1899, with her three daughters beside her, she at length 
closed her tired eyes tranquilly and without fear, to open 
them never again upon a world that had long since for- 
gotten the once-cherished name of Kate Chase. 

For the last few hours yet to be passed beneath the 
roof of Edgewood, they laid her in the room wherein 

her life had centred in both its glad and sad days, her 

228 



KATE CHASE 

father's library. Its windows overlooked in the fore- 
ground the garden in which she had spent of late so 
many lonely hours, and in the distance, lying beneath 
the spell of a summer's day, the beautiful city, where 
regnant woman never held greater sway than she in 
whose quiet face there was now no trace either of the 
triumphs or the weariness of her life, but the content- 
ment of grateful rest. 



2*9 



MATTIE OULD 

(MRS. OLIVER SCHOOLCRAFT) 

IN the vicinity of one of Richmond's fashionable 
schools there was often seen on winter afternoons, 
in the late sixties, a group of young girls, who 
possessed far more than the usual attractiveness that 
belongs ever to health and youth. Two, at least, Lizzie 
Cabell and Mary Triplett, were singularly beautiful. 
The third, a tall, slender girl, with a trim figure, dark 
skin and hair, and eyes perhaps downcast as she 
stepped lightly along listening to her companions, a 
stranger would scarcely have observed. If, perchance, 
however, as they paused on a street corner for a last 
word before separating, the downcast eyes were lifted, 
there gazed from out their soft depths a spirit that 
transformed the entire face. They were truly the win- 
dows of a soul, looking out upon the world with a 
frankness that was irresistible, and with a certain caress- 
ing fondness for life that begot a kindred glow in all it 
looked upon. In her sweet voice there was the same 
tone of caress as it gave a parting utterance to some 
flashing thought to which, likely as not, she paid the 
tribute of that honest smile, whose witchery still lingers 

in many minds. As she continued her walk home- 

230 



MATTIE OULD 

ward many lifted hats greeted her passing, many eyes 
followed her, and her name was murmured among 
many groups, for, young as she was, Mattie Ould was 
already wandering in the pathway of a fame that was 
to make her later the idol of the people of the South. 

Before she was beyond the tutelage of her old 
mammy the piquancy of her wit had established her 
title to popularity. It had, moreover, much of that 
audacity that had characterized the wit of another Vir- 
ginia belle, Ann Carmichael, of Frederick sburg, who 
flourished fifty years earlier in the century. Conven- 
tionality was a term with which Mattie Ould had no 
concern. She was a genius, and with a spontaneity 
that was overwhelming she dared to give utterance to 
every sparkling thought that crossed her mind. She 
was a very small girl when she made that bright sally 
which connects her name with that of her father's 
friend, General Young. 

A famous raconteur and ban vivant, and revelling in 
her gift for repartee, her father frequently had her 
brought forward as a little child to grace his stag din- 
ners, seating her in the centre of the table, whence she 
sent forth such sallies of wit as captivated many a 
veteran dinner-giver and guest. 

One evening, when she had kept up her amusing 
prattle until a later hour than usual, she went up to 
General Young, who was seated near her father, and 
stood beside him, resting her head against his shoulder. 
" Come, come," called her father, " it's time mammy 
was hunting you up, little sleepy head. General 

231 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Young can't get on very well with you there." " No, 
no," insisted Mattie, dreading a summons of that auto- 
crat, in whose presence there could be neither pleading 
nor protest ; " don't send for mammy. Pm not sleepy. 
I was just trying an old head on young shoulders." 
She was quoted through all grades of Richmond life, 
and long before she had grown to womanhood a fre- 
quent question on many lips was, " Have you heard 
what Mattie Ould said ?" Then every one listened to 
her latest ban mot, which was repeated till the whole 
city had heard and laughed. With a dash and esprit 
that were peculiarly her own, she had many masculine 
traits, an independence and a camaraderie that were irre- 
sistible. 

With the magnetism of her gifts she would have 
been known to fame even had her family been of 
less prominence. Well placed, however, as she was in 
life, her brilliancy illumined a vast horizon. Her father, 
Judge Robert Ould, always held a distinguished posi- 
tion, both in the District of Columbia, where he was 
born, and in Richmond, whither he removed at the out- 
break of the war. Besides being thrown in intimate con- 
tact with the prominent citizens of both places, he was 
frequently called upon to extend his hospitality to emi- 
nent strangers who came to him with letters of intro- 
duction. His home during part of his residence in 
Washington was in the quaint old building opposite 
the Treasury Department, now Riggs Bank. There 
President Buchanan was his guest for several days after 
he quitted the White House. No extraordinary prep- 

232 




Mattie Quid 

(Mrs. Oliver Schoolcraft) 
From photograph by George S. Cook 



MATTIE OULD, 

arations, however, were made for the entertainment of 
the ex-President in a household where distinguished 
guests were a frequent occurrence. A loose rod in the 
stair-carpet was secured on the suggestion of Mrs. 
Quid's mother, lest Mr. Buchanan, not accustomed to 
the circumnavigation that it had imposed upon the 
family, should fall and break his leg, in which event 
they would have him three weeks instead of three days. 

Judge Ould came prominently before the public as 
the district attorney at the time of the prosecution of 
General Daniel Sickles for the killing of Barton Key, 
Sickles being defended by Edwin M. Stanton, who be- 
came more widely known later as Lincoln's Secretary 
of War. 

Quid's prominence was rather augmented after the 
outbreak of the war and his removal to Richmond, 
where he was made commissioner of the Confederate 
government for the exchange of prisoners. He had 
married a celebrated Virginia beauty, Miss Sarah Tur- 
pin, and had four children, all of whom, with one noted 
exception, are still living. His wife, after having been 
long an invalid, died before his family was grown, and 
he, some years later, married Mrs. Handy, of Baltimore, 
the mother of the beautiful May Handy, one of Rich- 
mond's belles of the present day. 

Mattie Ould was born in the District of Columbia, 
which she left in her childhood for the home with 
which her fame is associated. She returned, however, 
to spend the last two years of her school life in the Vis- 
itation Convent, Georgetown. Though known to all 

233 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Richmond from her childhood, her renown throughout 
the South dates from her first appearance at the White 
Sulphur Springs, which in her day, before the advent 
of the Northern pleasure-seeker, still possessed all the 
distinctive features of a Southern watering-place. 
Though it was already a long-established resort, to 
the magic which her presence shed about it during the 
seasons that she spent there it owes much of its wide 
fame to-day. All the details of the war were then yet 
vivid memories, and there many a battle was fought 
over again in graphic words by men whose bravery and 
gallantry in action have never been surpassed. Many 
of them had been distinguished officers in the army of 
the Confederacy, Joe Johnston, of Virginia ; Wade 
Hampton, of South Carolina ; Gordon, of Georgia ; 
Beauregard, of Louisiana ; Butler, Gary, the gallant 
Pickett, of Gettysburg fame ; and Hood, of Alabama, 
then lifting himself about on his crutches. It was such 
men as these who stamped their striking individuality 
upon the life of the Southern watering-places at that 
period, and among whom, keenly appreciating the wit, 
ardently loving the beauty, and reverencing the good- 
ness of a woman beyond all things, Mattie Ould came 
to be the greatest belle the South has had since the 
war. 

While she was ever superlatively attractive to men, 
she was yet a generous friend to women, and fre- 
quently avenged the slights to which she saw some 
plain woman subjected, for, besides the scintillating 
qualities that made her a popular idol she had many 

234 




Lizzie Cabell 
(Mrs. Albert Ritchie) 



MATTIE OULD 

noble traits that commended her to a more profound 
and lasting admiration. 

The toast which is more celebrated than any of her 
other equally clever utterances was offered at a supper 
at the Springs, given in honor of herself and another 
famous Richmond belle, Mary Triplett, the late Mrs. 
Philip Haxall. Miss Triplett had been asked to pro- 
pose a toast and had declined. Mattie Ould, however, 
rose without hesitation, lifted her glass, inclined her 
graceful head towards Miss Triplett, and in her clear 
musical voice, said, " Here's to beauty, grace, and wit, 
which united make a Triplett." There was, indeed, a 
peculiar enchantment about all she did and said that 
seemed never to have belonged to any one else. Her 
dancing infused a new charm into the atmosphere of a 
ball-room, and as a horsewoman she possessed a skill 
and grace that few could rival. 

Her horse once ran away with her in Richmond, just 
as the groom mounted her and before she had put her 
foot in the stirrup. It dashed off at top speed, running 
several squares through the residence district of the city, 
and then turned into a business street, where it rushed 
madly into a hack. The hackman, however, had seen 
it coming, and realizing that he could not get out of its 
way, he stood up, and throwing his arm around the 
rder's waist, he lifted her from the saddle as the horse 
crashed into the hack, partly demolishing it, and fell. 
A great crowd witnessed the rescue, and cheered lustily 
for the courageous old hackman. When Mattie Ould 
was recognized, however, the enthusiasm assumed a 

235 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

more substantial form, and the hands of many men 
went generously into their pockets. He was never for- 
gotten, and as long as Mattie Ould lived she provided 
for him and his family, some of the many who had 
loved her keeping up the good work after she was gone. 

Though she was the object of the ardent devotion 
of many men, she did not marry until she had passed 
her twenty-fifth year. It was rumored that she was 
engaged to a friend of her father's, a man many years 
her senior, and the indignation with which her father 
received the news of her marriage to Oliver Schoolcraft 
substantiated in many minds the report of the former 
engagement. 

Her marriage occurred at the end of the summer of 
1876, which she had spent with her grandmother at 
the White Sulphur Springs. Thither Schoolcraft, one 
of the wealthiest of the younger set of men who 
adorned Richmond life, had followed her, taking with 
him his own valuable horses and traps, with which ad- 
juncts he was ever at her disposal. They drove over 
to Salem one day, and were quietly married there that 
evening, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John A. McCall ; 
one of Miss Quid's brothers and several of her friends 
witnessing the ceremony. As no preparation had been 
made for her marriage, she wore, instead of the con- 
ventional white satin, a simple gown of white organdy, 
set off with bands of black velvet. 

She was never more bewitchingly lovely than she 
was that night, and so impressed herself indelibly on 

the minds of all who gathered about her, some of 

236 




Mary Triplett 

(Mrs. Philip Haxall) 

From photograph by Roseti 



MATTIE OULD 

whom were but little children. Being asked to sing in 
the course of the evening, she complied with her usual 
graciousness, for part of the charm of her manner lay 
not only in her readiness to contribute to the pleasure 
of others, but in the absolute enjoyment she evinced in 
so doing. She made her own selection, and sang the 
little song that was then in favor with her, " Under the 
Daisies." It was singularly prophetic, for just as the 
daisies of another spring were putting forth their bloom 
the sweet voice, whose vibrations had rung so many 
glad echoes from the world, lapsed forever into silence. 

Schoolcraft took her to Richmond the day following 
their marriage, where her father insisted upon having 
the ceremony performed again, owing to some techni- 
cality of the law to the effect that a marriage license 
should be obtained at the usual place of residence of 
the bride. Though the spirit of comradeship had ex- 
isted to an unusual degree between this father and 
daughter, he never forgave her until it was too late for 
that forgiveness to be any comfort to her. 

She lived, after her marriage, in an elegant suite of 
rooms, built over Schoolcraft's handsomely equipped 
stables. When some one twitted her about the pecu- 
liar location of her new abode, she replied, with her 
unfailing readiness, that she was not the first person 
who had lived in a stable, and quoted a precedent that 
no Christian could gainsay. 

One morning, in the spring following her marriage, 
Richmond was appalled by the report which, in the 
course of a few hours had spread over the entire city, 

237 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

that Mattie Ould was dying. The world was so full 
of her and all she did and said, that it was not credible 
that her beguiling presence was passing from it. A 
silent depression and a sense of personal loss settled 
upon the people in every walk of life. 

Richmond had never beheld such a sight as Mattie 
Quid's funeral. Old St. Paul's Church and the Square 
opposite were thronged, the streets all along the route 
to the cemetery were lined, and even the hills of beau- 
tiful Hollywood were black with people. The entire 
population of the city was there, many, who were too 
poor to ride, walking, for she had brightened all their 
lives, and she belonged to them all. 

She lies all through the spring and summer beneath 
a bed of daisies, and near her sleeps the infant whose life 
closed her own. In the memory of the people of the 
South she is yet a living presence, whose words, wise 
and droll, are repeated, ever with a keen relish for their 
pungency, for she touched all things with that true wit 
which is 

" Nature to advantage dressed, 

What oft before was thought, 
But ne'er so well expressed." 



238 



JENNIE JEROME 

(LADY RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) 

TO-DAY, when there are so many American 
women adorning high places and filling more 
or less leading roles in British society, it is 
difficult to realize that only a little more than a quar- 
ter of a century ago there was a strong movement 
afoot, among certain leaders of that society, to ex- 
clude their fair transatlantic cousins from London 
drawing-rooms. As to the oft-recurring Anglo-Ameri- 
can marriage, while there are yet many people who 
look askance upon any sort of an international alliance, 
that prejudice that frowned so ominously upon it some 
years ago has wonderfully abated on both sides of the 
water. The Queen herself recently confessed that she 
had regarded it at one time as rather a hazardous ex- 
periment, but realizing that, with her broad education 
and elastic temperament, the American girl adapts her- 
self to a new environment with a facility which would 
scarcely be possible to the less flexible English girl, 
Her Majesty's apprehensions have been gradually 
allayed. 

One of the first American women before whom these 
later-day barriers of social prejudice gave way was Miss 
Jennie Jerome, of New York. As the wife of Lord 

239 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Randolph Churchill, and ably championed by his 
mother the Duchess of Marlborough, she penetrated 
the innermost recesses of British society, opening the 
way more than any other woman to the position her 
countrywomen occupy there at the end of the century, 
and holding herself a place second to that of no other 
American woman in Europe. 

The admiration she attracted as a young girl, the 
wonderful part she played in the life of her husband 
and is at present playing in the lives of her sons, the 
unusual influence she has undeniably exercised in Eng- 
lish politics, the intimate contact into which the events 
of her life have from time to time thrown her with the 
crowned heads of Europe, the Czar of Russia, the 
Emperor of Germany, and the Queen of England, 
have all tended to give her a unique place in the his- 
tory of the latter days of the Victorian era. In England 
there is no woman below the royal family whose name 
and personality are so generally known as Lady Ran- 
dolph Churchill's. 

Her prominent identification with the Primrose 
League has carried her fame into the colonies and 
into India. Many people in Russia and Germany 
follow her career with keen interest, the press of 
both countries bringing her frequently before the pub- 
lic, and even in self-centred France the women of the 
aristocracy, in imitation of her political achievements, 
have from time to time essayed to " jouer la Lady Ran- 
dolph Churchill." 

She is the eldest of three daughters of the late Mr. 

240 



JENNIE JEROME 

Leonard Jerome, and was born in Brooklyn, on the 
gth of January, 1854. There and in New York she 
passed her early childhood. 

Her mother was a woman of independent fortune 
and her father an enterprising and successful man of 
affairs. He was the founder, in New York, of the 
Jockey Club, and his name figures conspicuously in 
the annals of the turf of both England and America, 
he having been one of its active patrons in the former 
country, whose racing system he introduced into 
America. 

His family migrated to Paris when his eldest daugh- 
ter was in her eleventh year, and there his children grew 
up and were educated. Miss Jennie Jerome's artistic 
and musical gifts were carefully trained, and she has 
been considered ever since she made her entree into 
English society as one of its most accomplished pianists. 
Her name appears frequently on the programmes of 
concerts given in behalf of charity, and is always a pow- 
erful drawing card, for she plays with a clearness and 
delicacy of touch rarely attained by an amateur. 

France was at the height of its glories under the 
second empire when the Jeromes took up their resi- 
dence in Paris. The court, presided over by one of 
the most beautiful women who ever wore a diadem, 
was characterized by almost unprecedented magnifi- 
cence. Paris then, as now, led the world in all matters 
of personal adornment, and one feature in that regime 
of luxuriant display, inaugurated by the Empress, is still 
felt to-day in every quarter of the globe where women 

1 6 241 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

make any pretence of following fashions in dress. She 
never permitted any woman to appear twice in her 
presence in the same gown. As a result, there dates 
from her brief era of leadership an extravagance in 
woman's dress that was before undreamed of, and which 
has had the effect of raising the details of a toilet from 
a subordinate to a ruling position among women in 
fashionable life, with a loss of much that gave a truer 
beauty to existence under a system when the sparkle 
of a woman's mind was of greater value than the flash 
of her jewels. 

Mrs. Jerome, a woman of wealth and taste, easily 
acquired a position of distinction in the fashionable life 
of the French capital at that time. Her eldest daugh- 
ter meanwhile grew up with a reputation for great 
beauty, her fame increasing as the unusual gifts of her 
bright mind unfolded themselves. She was one of that 
group of clever and beautiful young girls with whom 
the Emperor and Empress from time to time sur- 
rounded the little Prince Imperial, and she participated 
at Compiegne in the memorable celebration of one of 
the few birthday anniversaries which fate accorded him, 

The Franco-Prussian war drove the Jeromes across 
the channel. They tarried in England during the days 
that marked the fall of the empire and the uprising of 
the Communards with their awful deeds of devastation. 
The summer of 1873 they passed at Cowes. 

Miss Jennie Jerome was then in her twentieth year, 
tall, slender, with a thoughtful countenance denoting 

both talent and. character in its broad brow and square 

242 



JENNIE JEROME 

chin. Her mouth was grave and sweet, while her great 
dark eyes, that are yet the most striking feature of her 
face, her purple black hair, and her clear olive skin 
gave her a distinctive place among the blonde daugh- 
ters of England. Always a striking figure in their 
midst, the contrast was perhaps never more marked 
than upon ftie occasion of the marriage of Princess 
Louise of Wales to the Earl of Fife* when the blonde 
type of the British women was so much in evidence in 
the demi-toilettes commanded by the Queen, and when 
Lady Randolph Churchill's brunette coloring was so 
well set off by her yellow satin gown, with a diamond 
star twinkling above her brow against her black hair. 

Though the nomadic tendency of Americans fre- 
quently leads them abroad, where they mingle for 
awhile in the life of various European capitals, there 
were fewer American women at that time forming a 
permanent part of foreign society, and one so gifted 
mentally and physically as was Miss Jerome soon 
became a noted figure. She attracted everywhere the 
most evident admiration,, never impairing the effect her 
appearance produced by the least manifestation of 
vanity. 

To the Isle of Wight also that summer there be- 
took himself a young English nobleman, the second 
son of the sixth Duke of Marlborough. But three 
years out of college, where he had not been distin- 
guished as a student, but rather for the irresistible 
attractiveness of his personality and for the enjoyment 
he extracted from existence, there was little in Lord 

243 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Randolph Churchill's life in the summer of 1873 that 
foreshadowed the greatness he was destined to attain. 
Restless, ambitious, full of energy, with no specific 
object upon which to expend it, he hesitated between 
a diplomatic and a military career, and meanwhile, 
since taking his degree in 1871, he had travelled over 
the whole of Europe. 

He was already an idol to his mother, towards whom 
he ever showed that though tfuln ess that is the acme 
of gallantry. He had much of her dash and spirit, 
and she entered sympathetically into all the events of 
his life ; he on his side never failing to report to her 
immediately, either in person or by message, all his 
successes. When he met Jennie Jerome, and for the 
first time the future assumed a tangible and very beau- 
tiful form, he confided in his mother and at once 
solicited her interest in the young American girl. 

To Miss Jerome's mother, however, Lord Randolph 
Churchill, a younger son, with no particularly bright 
prospects in life, did not appeal as a desirable match. 
She returned to Paris with her daughters. Lord Ran- 
dolph followed, and there at the British Embassy, in 
January, 1874, he was married to Miss Jerome. 

With an ambition and talent equal to his own, she 
entered completely into his desire to make for himself 
a place of distinction in life. The dissolution of Par- 
liament early in the year of his marriage offered the 
opportunity for a political career. He began at home, 
in the borough of Woodstock, in which Blenheim 
Palace, where he had been born twenty-five years 

244 





Jennie Jerome 

(Lady Randolph Churchill) 

From photograph by Van der Weyde 



JENNIE JEROME 

before, is situated, and secured his election to a seat 
in the House of Commons without being asked any 
questions as to his political creed, which, it was taken 
for granted, was identical with that of his family. 

Like his wife's father, he took an active interest in 
matters pertaining to the turf, owning several famous 
race-horses and capturing during the course of his 
life some notable prizes. His first speech in Parlia- 
ment was to call the attention of the first Commis- 
sioner of Public Works to the hard and dusty condi- 
tion of Rotten Row, and to ask that it be put in better 
shape, without delay, for both horses and their riders. 

During the first six almost silent years of his Par- 
liamentary career, while he was studying the men and 
measures he subsequently arraigned with so much 
brilliancy, his young wife was adapting herself to the 
social life of his country, whose events are as well es- 
tablished as those of its political life. In a dutiful 
way which gives it a dignity not possible in a coun- 
try whose social usages admit of more caprice, every 
one lives up to the well-appointed order in which, be- 
ginning with the first drawing-room in the early spring, 
the various functions of each season follow one an- 
other. 

While there may be more refreshment and enthu- 
siasm in the novelty which American society admits 
of, it lacks that stability that emanates from the very 
sameness with which one English year follows in the 
footsteps of another, and that sense of ancient respect- 
ability which rises from the consciousness of partici- 

245 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

pating in the same pleasures from youth to old age in 
which one's fathers similarly participated in their time. 

Lady Randolph Churchill easily overcame the preju- 
dices which existed in the minds of some English 
women against all American women. Young as she 
was, there was a commanding quality in her very pres- 
ence which vanquished that narrowness that harbors 
petty dislike on a basis of nationality. 

Both of her sisters married in England, one to 
Moreton Frewen and the other to the only son of 
Sir John Leslie, Bart., of Glaslough Monaghan. 

Her two sons were born, the first, Winston Spencer 
Churchill, on the 3Oth of November, 1874, and the 
younger, John Winston Churchill, in February, 1880. 

Between the duties of her home and those of a 
social nature, which her position in the world entailed 
upon her, the first period of her life in England passed. 
From 1880, however, dated the dramatic period of 
Lord Randolph Churchill's career, in which his wife 
bore so conspicuous a part. He rose to the leadership 
of that small section of the House known as the 
" Fourth Party," which, coming forward as an evidence 
of the vigor yet possessed by the Conservatives, suc- 
ceeded in June, 1885, in overthrowing the Gladstonian 
ministry. He was frequently compared to Disraeli, 
and many people prophesied for him a similar career. 

In 1883, in connection with Sir H. Drummond 
Wolf, Lord Randolph Churchill founded, in the inter- 
ests of the Conservative party, that powerful organiza- 
tion, the Primrose League. In a membership to-day 

246 



JENNIE JEROME 

of over one and a half million, with Knights, Dames, 
and Associates, Lady Randolph Churchill stands num- 
ber twelve upon its rolls. The kingdom and empire 
of Great Britain are dotted with its Habitations. 

With its development there began a new phase 
of Lady Churchill's life. She became from that mo- 
ment thoroughly an Englishwoman, identifying herself 
closely with her husband's public life and interests, 
aiding him not only with the popularity she had 
already attained, but with the remarkable sagacity she 
displayed in reference to all political questions. With 
the qualities that rendered her more charming as a 
woman she combined those most valuable in a man. 
Ambitious, intrepid, discreet, she was yet graceful, tact- 
ful, wise, and witty. She became at once a force 
among the members of the League, and, besides being 
much in demand at the social events at its various 
Habitations, she endeavored continually to impress 
upon its members the influence each might exercise in 
behalf of " that party which is pledged to support all 
that is dear to England, Religion, Law, Order, and 
Unity of the Empire." 

In her character of Dame of the Primrose League 
she has participated in so many electioneering contests 
that she is almost as well known in England as any 
man in public life. When her husband, in 1885, at- 
tacked the seat held by Mr. John Bright for Birming- 
ham, seconded by the Duchess of Marlborough, she 
canvassed the constituency for him. Never before had 

women gone thus among the workingmen of Birming- 

247 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

ham, entering the factories as well as their homes, and 
addressing them both collectively and individually. 
Though they made much havoc in the ranks of Radi- 
calism and greatly diminished his votes, they did not 
succeed in defeating " the tribune of the people." 

Lady Churchill is a rousing speaker, and, with her 
great beauty and magnetism, evoked immense enthu- 
siasm, her carriage being frequently surrounded and 
followed for some distance by cheering crowds. In 
South Paddington her efforts told with better effect, 
Lord Churchill securing the election in that district. 

With the accession to office of Lord Salisbury's 
government, Lord Churchill went into the Cabinet as 
Secretary of State for India, the real head of affairs of 
the far-away empire where the power is represented by 
a governor-general. During his brief tenure of that 
office his wife was decorated with the imperial order 
of the Crown of India, which has so recently been 
bestowed upon another American woman in the person 
of the present governor-general's wife. 

Lord Churchill stood at this time at the very head 
of his party, and when a few months after resigning 
the office as Secretary of State for India he again went 
into the Cabinet as Chancellor of the Exchequer and 
leader of the House of Commons, being at the time but 
thirty-seven years of age, there seemed opening to him 
a future of almost unprecedented brilliancy. More than 
ever was it said that he was treading in the footsteps 
of Lord Beaconsfield, to whom he had been so often 

compared, and the Prime Ministership seemed almost 

248 



JENNIE JEROME 

within his reach. His name was on every tongue, and 
when he appeared in public places accompanied by his 
wife, whose tall, slender figure and clear-eyed, interested 
face were as well known as his own, he was frequently 
greeted with outbursts of applause. When she drove 
in Hyde Park her carriage was frequently followed, 
and she was pointed out with the most enthusiastic ad- 
miration. 

Not only in England, but accompanying her hus- 
band to Russia and Germany, she excited in both of 
those countries a similar sentiment, there being among 
the people an eager desire to see the beautiful American 
who was so much admired by the court circles. 

Attractive as she was under all circumstances, she 
never more admirably reflected the fine qualities of her 
character than on that day when her husband rose 
amidst the absolute silence of the House of Commons 
to give his reasons for withdrawing from the Cabinet. 
Absorbed in him, she followed intently his every word 
and gesture, though aware beforehand of every syllable 
he would utter. With perfect self-control she re- 
vealed nothing either of regret, disappointment, or any 
sentiment upon which a guess at his plans for the 
future might be hazarded. 

Socially her life ran in much the same channel. So 
great was her beauty and so many were her talents that, 
though her husband gradually withdrew from public 
life, she was continually in the public eye, being con- 
stantly in demand to open fairs, distribute prizes, and 

take part in concerts. In March, 1888, she went to 

249 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Clydebank to christen the " City of New York," at 
that time one of the most remarkable vessels that had 
been built. During the following summer she opened 
an electrical exhibit at Birmingham, and a few days 
later conferred the annual awards at Malvern College, 
her husband accompanying her and making addresses 
upon both occasions. About this time also she made 
her first appearance as a literata in an article on the 
social life of Russia, based on the observations she had 
made while in St. Petersburg with her husband. Well 
informed, keenly observant, clever, and witty, she en- 
tered the lists without handicap, and her position to-day 
in the world of letters is at least unique. The most 
costly quarterly in existence, now entering upon its 
second year, is owned and edited by her. 

In 1891, when he was but forty-two years old, Lord 
Randolph Churchill came suddenly face to face with the 
beginning of the end of his remarkable and crowded 
life. The utter physical collapse that followed, termi- 
nating in death in January, 1 895, threw light upon much 
that had seemed inexplicable in the latter days of his 
public career. 

Accompanied by his wife, he journeyed around the 
world in quest of the health which he was destined 
never to find. They passed through New York, Lady 
Churchill's first home, but made no stay, hastening 
across the continent to San Francisco. In Egypt, real- 
izing how futile had been the long days and nights of 
travel and exile, he begged to be taken home to pass 

there the last few hours that yet remained to him. 

250 



JENNIE JEROME 

From all who saw them they evoked pity and admi- 
ration, pity for the man, stricken and doomed, in the 
very prime of his days and with the highest place 
among the statesmen of his time almost within his 
grasp, and admiration for the wife who, aglow with 
beauty, spirit, and ambition, manifested for him during 
those months of tragic gloom, in which his life closed, 
all the devotion and admiration which the most success- 
ful moments of his life, when he stood on the very pin- 
nacle of fame, had called forth from her gratified heart. 

The untimely disappearance from the world of a 
man whose magnetic nature had made him a leader of 
men and an idol of all classes of society appealed 
powerfully to public feeling. The tolling of the 
funeral bell from St. George's, in Hanover Square, a 
little after noon on the 24th of January, 1895, an- 
nounced his death. 

Though she took no part in the doings of the world 
for some time after her husband's death, Lady Ran- 
dolph Churchill did not drop from its memory, nor is 
she in any degree less interesting to-day than she was 
as the wife of an eminent statesman. Her musical 
gifts and tastes gradually drew her from the seclusion 
of her early widowhood, and she reappeared in public 
first at concerts and at the opera, still dressing in black. 

Her social graces and talents make her the genius of 
many house-parties, where individual gifts and accom- 
plishments show to best advantage and are most in 
demand. In the tableaux and burlesque given at Blen- 
heim Palace in January, 1898, to raise money for the 

251 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Restoration Fund of St. Mary Magdalene's church at 
Woodstock, she appeared as a lady journalist, portray- 
ing the character with a realism that manifested an ac- 
curate knowledge of the original. She was also a 
guest at Chatsworth House during a recent visit of the 
Prince and Princess of Wales, taking part there in the 
private theatricals which were part of the entertainment 
offered to their Royal Highnesses. 

To her sons she is a congenial spirit, being inter- 
ested in the things that interest them, particularly in 
yachting, horses, and the various racing events of each 
year. It is owing largely, no doubt, to her love of an 
active out-of-door life that her figure yet retains much 
of the slenderness and suppleness of young womanhood. 
She stands and walks with all the grace of a girl, and 
is one of the most noted skaters in England. 

Not only into their recreations, but into the serious 
side of her sons' lives, she enters with that earnestness 
which made her so inseparable a part of her husband's 
life. 

In the summer of 1899 the elder of her sons, Mr. 
Winston Churchill, made his first effort for a seat in 
Parliament. Oldham, in Lancashire, the scene of his 
endeavors, has two Parliamentary seats, which both be- 
came vacant at the same time. Though they had 
been filled by Conservatives, the result of the balloting 
in 1899 showed that the cotton-spinners, who form a 
large class of the voters of the borough, were tired of 
Conservative rule, for both Liberal candidates came in 

with heavy majorities. 

252 



JENNIE JEROME 

Towards the end of the campaign Lady Randolph 
Churchill went vigorously and enthusiastically to her 
son's assistance. " The Liberal candidates being mar- 
ried," she said, "have an advantage." Though she 
won him many votes and greatly reduced the opposi- 
tion, as she had done in the days of the Birmingham 
contest, when her husband attacked Bright's seat, the 
result was inevitable, and both mother and son ac- 
cepted it with the grace and spirit of thoroughbred 
woman- and manhood. 

There is an anecdote frequently related of Lady 
Churchill's ready wit, called forth by a situation which 
arose during the electioneering campaign, in which she 
was taking an active interest, of Mr. Burdett-Coutts, 
husband of the old Baroness Burdett-Coutts, who was 
at the time over eighty years of age. An old voter 
upon whom Lady Churchill called, and who seemed 
ready enough to cast his vote for Mr. Burdett-Coutts, 
took occasion, however, to relate to her, with much 
relish, the price which the beautiful Duchess of Devon- 
shire had paid a butcher for his vote in the days of the 
famous Pitt and Fo& contest, permitting him to kiss 
her lovely cheek. He concluded his narration with a 
direct intimation that he would consider a similar 
reward as fair payment for his own vote. 

"Very well," replied Lady Churchill, smiling a 
gracious compliance, " I will book your vote on those 
terms, but you must remember that I am working for 
Mr. Burdett-Coutts, and I must, therefore, refer you for 
payment to the Baroness." 

253 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

In June, 1899, the first number of Lady Churchill's 
quarterly, the Anglo-Saxon Review, which had been for 
several months the subject of much conjecture and 
speculation, appeared. 

' Have you heard of the wonderful new magazine 
Lady Randolph' s to edit with help from the Queen ? 
It's a guinea a number too little by half, 
For the crowned heads of Europe are all on the staff," 

ran the opening lines of perhaps the cleverest of the 
many verses and paragraphs her new venture called 
forth. 

Its contributions included papers from Lord Rose- 
berry and Whitelaw Reid, a poem from Swinburne, 
with stories from Henry James, Gilbert Parker, and 
Sir Frank Sweetenham, and a drama from John Oliver 
Hobbes. Among the illustrations were a picture of 
the Queen, as frontispiece, and a reproduction of Gil- 
bert Stewart's portrait of Washington. The binding 
was in keeping with the contents, and was of dark-blue 
morocco, richly tooled in gold, with the royal coat of 
arms in the centre, surmounted by the crown of Eng- 
land, with supporters, a reproduction of a cover designed 
in the seventeenth century by the court binder, Abraham 
Bateman. It sold, as have the subsequent editions, for 
a guinea a number, and was,, as the enterprising editress 
said in her preface, a volume " worthy to be taken up 
into that Valhalla of printed things, the library." 

At the outbreak of the war in the Transvaal in 1899 
Lady Randolph Churchill gave another evidence of her 

254 



JENNIE JEROME 

public spirit and enterprise which identified her once 
again with her native country. As chairman of the 
committee of the American hospital ship " Maine," she 
took an active part in the direction and equipment of 
one of the finest ambulance ships in the service. The 
ship itself was loaned by the Atlantic Transport Com- 
pany, and named in memory of the ill-fated American 
battle-ship " Maine." The contributions for its equip- 
ment were made by Americans on both sides of the ocean. 
Among the American women living in England who 
actively interested themselves in the matter were Mrs. 
Joseph Chamberlain, Mrs. Arthur Paget, Mrs. Bradley- 
Martin, and both of Lady Randolph Churchill's sisters. 

An appeal, issued on the 2yth of October, for thirty 
thousand pounds met with a speedy response, and in 
the course of a few weeks the American hospital ship 
" Maine," flying the flag that was a gift from the Queen, 
and with accommodations for two hundred sick or 
wounded soldiers, carrying its corps of surgeons and 
nurses and Lady Randolph Churchill herself, was on its 
way to Durban. 

Though it was as the wife of Lord Randolph Church- 
ill and through her close identification with his interests 
that Lady Churchill first came prominently before the 
world, it is undoubtedly her own personality that has 
made for her the place she holds there to-day. 

On the 28th of July, 1900, Lady Randolph Churchill 
became the wife of Mr. George Cornwallis West. 
Though marriages of women to men many years their 
junior are by no means rare in British society, the 

255 



AMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

rumor of this engagement, which had been afloat for 
quite a year, excited an unusual amount of comment 
and criticism. The ceremony was performed at St. 
Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, the Duke of Marlbor- 
ough leading Lady Churchill to the altar. Though 
widows of titled men in England may upon entering 
into a second marriage retain the name and title ac- 
quired through their former marriage, Lady Randolph 
Churchill settled the much-discussed question as to 
whether she would retain hers by her decision to be 
known as Mrs. George Cornwallis West. 

Not yet in middle life, and with two sons to be 
launched upon their careers, in which she has already 
foreshadowed what her part may be, the world may still 
expect to hear much of her, for there is a bracing and 
vigorous quality in her individuality that renders her 
interesting and inspiring to many classes and many 
countries. She has been frequently reproduced in the 
fiction of her era, more than one English writer drawing 
his material continually from her life and character. 

To what extent her beauty forms part of her magnet- 
ism is with many people a debatable question. Though 
Long painted her as a typical beauty, and Sargent's can- 
vas of her that hangs in her own library portrays an ex- 
quisite feminine loveliness, she leans perhaps too much 
towards the masculine in mental poise and temperament 
to be an adequate reflection of purely feminine beauty. 
A many-sided, strong, self-sustained character, her out- 
ward form is an expression of her own uncommon per- 
sonality rather than a type of conventional beauty. 

256 



NELLIE HAZELTINE 

(MRS. FREDERICK W. PARAMORE) 

AMONG the members of the graduating class at 
Mary Institute, St. Louis, in the year 1873, was 
a young girl who, in addition to the bright mind 
and intellectual ambition she had already manifested, 
was endowed with so extraordinary a physical beauty 
and so lovable a character that much of the brilliancy 
of her life might even then have been foretold. She 
was not yet seventeen years old, and was as absolutely 
unconscious of the unusual loveliness of her person as 
she ever seemed to be even after ten years of adulation. 
Her figure had already attained a faultless contour, 
and in her simple graduation gown of white French 
muslin, the flounces of its skirt headed with wreaths of 
pink roses and green leaves, and its round bodice offset 
with a bertha covered in the same design of roses and 
leaves, she suggested all the fragrance and beauty of a 
flower. Her red-gold hair seemed to reflect some of 
the sun's own glory, and with the marvellous delicacy 
of her skin, the deep wine-color of her eyes, and the 
classic perfection of her features, there can be little 
doubt that she was, as she was so often said to be later, 
the most beautiful woman ever born west of the Mis- 
sissippi. 

17 257 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

Among her school-mates Nellie Hazeltine had won 
that popularity that was hers in after years to so re- 
markable an extent among all women. The power she 
possessed of diffusing herself and all that pertained to 
her among others precluded every thought of envy, and 
those with whom she came in contact experienced 
rather a sense of personal gratification in the contem- 
plation of her gifts than any desire to despoil her of 
them or of the admiration they attracted. 

She was the only daughter of Captain William B. 
Hazeltine, a man who had made a large fortune in the 
mercantile world, and she went from school to further 
enhance the attractiveness of an already beautiful home. 
There for several years she continued her studies, though 
it was not unusual then for girls of her age to take up 
their position in the social world immediately upon 
quitting school. As a result her accomplishments were 
of a higher order than those commonly possessed by 
the young women of her period. She was well read, 
she spoke French with the same ease with which she 
spoke her mother tongue, and was a musician of un- 
usual ability. Such attributes soon gained for her a 
wide reputation and a unique position in the society of 
her native city. 

In the matter of its social complexion St. Louis has 
generally been classed among the cities of the South. 
Besides the French, who formed a large proportion of 
its early settlers, those who rose early to a leading posi- 
tion were the families who had migrated there from 
Virginia and Kentucky. They were slave-owners and 

258 




Nellie Hazcltine 

(Mrs. Frederick W. Paramore) 

From photograph hy J. C. Strauss 



NELLIE HAZELTINE 

landholders, and as such gave a substantial character to 
the social foundations of the city. The Anglo-Saxon 
gradually absorbed the French element, which, though 
it disappeared from the political horizon, still formed a 
powerful undercurrent in the lives of the people, har- 
monizing the forms of their social intercourse and 
imparting a certain artistic value to their existence gen- 
erally, that gave St. Louis a distinctive place among 
the growing and wealthy young cities in its vicinity. 
This, with the character it took from the dominant 
race, which restrained it from that tendency to display 
that was elsewhere more or less apparent, yet which ever 
inculcated the sacred laws of hospitality, blended Into 
a delightful whole and gave to the city a charm that it 
has never lost. 

Of such a civilization Nellie Hazeltine has unques- 
tionably been the fairest product. Yet no one was less 
conscious than she of the eminence of her position or 
of the sensation her appearance invariably created. 

Shortly after the beginning of her social career she 
went with her father to Washington to attend a com- 
petitive drill of military organizations from all sections 
of the country. While there she was selected to pre- 
sent the colors to the company of which her father was 
captain. Among the spectators of a scene which is 
always more or less inspiring, was a man who, though 
already past middle-life, was yet not proof against the 
witchery of such a singularly lovely presence as Nellie 
Hazeltine's. From the moment she thus crossed his 
life, like many another man of less prominence, Samuel 

259 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

J. Tilden followed her career with an ardent and chival- 
rous admiration that increased as her beautiful character 
developed and disclosed itself. 

When he came before the country as the Democratic 
candidate for the Presidency, and captured not only the 
nomination but the majority vote of the people, when 
his name was on every tongue in America, and every- 
thing that concerned him was of absorbing interest, the 
story of his devotion to Nellie Hazeltine spread through- 
out the length and breadth of the country. 

From the moment it became known that Samuel J. 
Tilden had been elected President of the United States, 
till Samuel J. Randall, Speaker of the House of Rep- 
resentatives, cutting the tie vote of that body, redeemed 
its pledge to abide by the decision of the Electoral 
Commission, which declared Rutherford B. Hayes 
President of the United States, forms one of the most 
thrilling periods in our political history. It was but 
eleven years after the great civil struggle, and people 
living to-day, when the sinews of the nation are again 
knitted, cannot easily estimate the bitterness engendered 
by the campaign that fell during our centennial year. 

The contest reached nothing less than a sublime 
climax when Randall, with nothing in his great form or 
his strong face to betray the struggle it had cost him, 
stepped quietly down from the Speaker's platform, and, 
taking his place on the floor of the House, uttered amid 
its breathless silence that affirmative syllable upon which 
hung national tranquillity. 

Both men took the oath of office, Tilden, the peo- 

260 



NELLIE HAZELTINE 

pie's choice, in the privacy of his own home in New 
York, and Hayes, twice, first, on Saturday afternoon, 
the 3d of March, in the White House, overlapping 
Grant's term of office by a few hours, that there might 
be no intermission occasioned by inauguration-day 
falling on Sunday ; and again on Monday, the 5th of 
March, in the presence of the people. 

A Presidential campaign that proceeds and terminates 
in t'he usual way is sufficient to entail an enormous 
amount of publicity upon the candidates. The cam- 
paign of '76, however, gave Tilden both a prominence 
and a place in the affections of the people of his coun- 
try that could scarcely have been greater had he been 
permitted to fill the high office to which they elected 
him. 

His bachelorhood was an interesting feature of his 
personality, for we had had at that time but one bachelor 
President. The sentimental side of public opinion was 
satisfied, however, with the report that he was soon to 
be married to Miss Hazeltine. On her part, though his 
admiration for her was easily apparent, she never referred 
to his having offered himself to her any more than she 
revealed the fact of any other man ever having honored 
her with a similar proposal. Yet it was known through 
men who could not easily disguise the sharpness of their 
disappointment at her rejection of their suit that she 
was continually the recipient of such offers. 

Though she was already well known socially, in both 
St. Louis and New York, her fame was established after 

the summers of 1876 and 1877 on a vast ly wider basis. 

261 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

During the latter season she made a tour of the Eastern 
watering-places, and went for the first time to the Green- 
brier White Sulphur Springs, succeeding Mattie Ould 
in its social leadership during the last days of the old 
regime, when it occupied the first rank as a distinctively 
Southern resort. 

There was no one who made any pretence of rivalling 
her, though fair women from every section of the South 
still upheld the fame of the old resort. She has been 
frequently compared to Mattie Ould, and the history of 
their short lives furnishes several points of similarity. 
Hers was a more faultless type of beauty than Mattie 
Ould's, however, and she had a reserve and dignity that 
were in keeping with its high order, whereas, Mattie 
Ould was distinguished by a flow of spirits and a bril- 
liancy of wit that captivated every fancy and carried all 
before it. Both had the power to attract and hold the 
attention and admiration of large circles of people, one 
by the overwhelming sparkle of her words, the other 
by the magic of a lovely presence. 

Nellie Hazeltine was at all times as charming in the 
society of her own sex as she was among men ; and 
women in every rank of life had for her a tender attach- 
ment. Many a girl trying her uncertain young social 
wings for the first time owed to her that subsequent 
enjoyment and happiness which is called success. She 
was absolutely unselfish, and without display used the 
remarkable power which her own fascinating person- 
ality gave her to add to the happiness or improve the 

condition of others. 

262 



NELLIE HAZELTINE 

On the 2d of December, 1881, she was married to 
Mr. Frederick W. Paramore, a young railroad man of 
St. Louis, and a son of Mr. J. W. Paramore, who was 
president of the Texas and St. Louis Railroad. 

Memories of her, like those of Mattie Ould, centre 
in the days of a glorious girlhood. She was but twenty- 
seven years of age when she passed out of life, a little 
more than two years after her marriage, followed by an 
infant son whose existence had measured but a few days. 
The entire city of St. Louis mourned her loss, and few 
people have been laid to rest amid such evidences of a 
profound and universal grief as followed her. Her 
grave in Bellefontaine, whither strangers visiting St. 
Louis still frequently make a pilgrimage, was literally 
filled in with flowers by the young women of the city, 
to whom her life had been a beautiful example. 

In the Museum of St. Louis, there hangs a portrait 
of her painted by Carl Gutherz. It is a full-length 
figure dressed in white and standing in her own drawing- 
room. Her abundant hair is arranged after the peculiar 
fashion of the day, with a heavy fringe low on the fore- 
head. From beneath it, however, there looks down 
upon the beholder a face reflecting something of both 
the heart and mind whence flowed the charm of Nellie 
Hazeltine's personality, and of a beauty so ideal as to 
be almost sufficient in itself to immortalize her among 
the women of her country. 



263 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

(BARONESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON) 

FOR the second time within the century an Amer- 
ican woman has risen to viceregal honors. 
Mary Caton, the granddaughter of Charles Car- 
roll of Carrollton and the widow of Robert Patterson, 
of Baltimore, through her marriage, in 1825, to the 
Marquis of Wellesley, who was at the time Viceroy of 
Ireland, went to reign a queen in the country whence 
her ancestors, more than a century before, had emi- 
grated to America. In Mary Victoria Leiter, whose 
life, to the people of a future generation, will read much 
like romance, we again behold an American woman, 
who, like the Marchioness of Wellesley at the time 
she became Vicereine of Ireland, is still young and 
beautiful, filling a similar position in India, with its four 
hundred millions of subjects. 

The parallel between her life and that of Mary 
Caton, however, goes no farther. Wellesley was 
already in possession of the Governor-Generalship of 
Ireland when he married Mrs. Patterson. He was, 
moreover, beyond the threescore mark in years, and he 
bore " his blushing honors thick upon him," having 
already been Viceroy of India. Curzon was but thirty- 
nine years old when the governor-generalship of the 

264 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

latter mighty country, the shining mark of many a 
man's whole career, was offered to him. His public 
life bore little more than " the tender leaves of hope," 
though his writings on Eastern topics were already ac- 
cepted as highly authoritative. Lady Wellesley had 
but to follow the leadership of a man of recognized 
ability and established fame, while Lady Curzon walks 
side by side with the man who is making that steep 
ascent which the British editorial mind has classified 
as " Salisbury's most interesting experiment." It is, 
moreover, an open secret that, far from shrinking from 
the new office, with the weight of responsibility which 
it imposed, she encouraged her husband to accept it. 

While we are familiar with that phase of interna- 
tional marriage which confers rank and title upon the 
daughters of our republic, no American woman has 
ever played such a part in the British empire as has 
fallen to the lot of Lady Curzon. From that day in the 
spring of 1895, when she became the wife of the young 
Commoner, George Nathaniel Curzon, she stepped into 
English history ; the days of her American belleship 
became a fragrant reminiscence. The qualities which 
had given them brilliancy, however, continued to illu- 
minate the broader horizon of her life in England, and 
have become in her present exalted position the admi- 
ration of her own country, whose interest in her is 
purely personal, and the gratification of England, 
whose interest is political and much farther-reaching. 

To the vast majority of people, who have but a 

superficial knowledge of Lady Curzon, her charm lies 

265 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

in the phases of that exterior life which are visible to 
all and easily discerned from afar, her youth, her 
beauty, her wealth, the artistic perfection of her rai- 
ment, and the glory and pageant of her present exist- 
ence. These, however, are but foot-lights to the real 
power of the woman rising beyond them. 

As a girl in America she stood forth against the rich 
background of her home as distinctly as she is sil- 
houetted to-day against the magnificence of the throne 
of India. It was not so much what she did or said, 
though that was sometimes of an unusual order, that 
made her the social power she was in America ; it 
was rather what people instinctively felt that she was. 
" What thou art," says Emerson, defining that force 
we call character, " so roars and thunders above thy 
head, I cannot hear thee speak." She was serious and 
earnest rather than scintillating, with a reserve and dig- 
nity of manner tempered by a sweetness that admitted 
no suggestion of austerity. 

The grace with which she now meets every situa- 
tion, the intelligent interest she manifests in every 
theme with which she is approached, are not matters 
of happy chance or accident. She has been carefully 
equipped for her place in life. Studious and ambitious, 
she has known little of frivolity or idleness. Every 
faculty and every gift with which she was endowed 
have been conscientiously cultivated, so that, like the 
wise virgins of the parable, she was found ready when 
the hour came with a light that guides not only her 

own footsteps, but is seen from afar. 

266 




Jennie Chamberlain 

(Lady Naylor-Leyland ) 

From the painting by H. Schmiechen 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

Though Lady Curzon's life has been largely cosmo- 
politan, the city of Chicago, in which she was born 
and passed her first thirteen years, has a more substan- 
tial claim upon her than any in which she has since 
lived. She evidently reciprocates the feeling of the 
former city, for it was to it that she recently addressed 
a plea in behalf of the famine-stricken districts of 
India. It was there that her father, Mr. Levi Z. Leiter, 
amassed his immense fortune, laying its foundation as 
a partner in the dry-goods firm of Marshall Field & 
Co. There, also, her brother, Joseph Leiter, still con- 
tinues his remarkable position in the stock market. 

In the year 1881 Lady Curzon's family joined that 
ever-increasing colony at Washington that is made up 
of wealth and leisure. It has in recent years become 
a distinctive feature of the capital, its members having 
built there some of the handsome homes that adorn the 
city, and which they occupy usually for a few months 
each year. Their social functions are attended with 
much magnificence, and they have the entree to official 
society, and frequently to that exclusive circle of aristo- 
cratic old families, many of whom have lived there in 
unostentatious elegance ever since the nation transferred 
its capital to the banks of the Potomac. 

For a time Mary Leiter attended the school in 
Washington founded some years ago by Madam 
Burr and subsequently conducted by her daughters. 
She was a good student. Quiet in her manner, she 
emitted only occasionally that sparkle of wit or fun 

that so often flashes from the happy school girl of 

267 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

fourteen. She exercised, however, a fascination to 
which both her teachers and companions were sus- 
ceptible. Her beauty of face, her pose and carriage, 
together with a sweet, girlish modesty and a gracious- 
ness that was simple and unaffected, rendered her at 
all times most attractive. 

The greater part of Miss Leiter's education, however, 
was conducted at home, under governesses, and her 
individual tastes and talents thus developed. Travel, 
and a more or less prolonged residence abroad at various 
times under most happy circumstances, cultivated her 
powers of observation and developed in her that breadth 
of mental vision that at an unusually early period not 
only removed the crudities of youth, but gave her that 
poise and finish that made her so charming to men and 
women of mature and brilliant intellect. 

Comparatively little was heard of her family socially 
till after her debut, which occurred in the winter of 
1888, and their present social prominence in the United 
States is due to the remarkable impression she every- 
where created. As a new-comer she was viewed criti- 
cally, for she aimed always at the highest and best in 
the social castes of her country. She was weighed in 
the balance with the daughters of better known and 
longer established families of the East, and was found 
their equal in beauty and breeding and frequently their 
peer in charm of manner and intellect. 

In Washington her father leased the home, on 
Dupont Circle, of the late James G. Blaine, and there 

Miss Leiter spent the first years of her young woman- 

268 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

hood, during which such homage was paid her that she 
never entered a drawing-room nor crossed a ball-room 
without attracting the attention and gaze of every one. 
She planned and directed the numerous social func- 
tions given there by her parents on a scale of magnifi- 
cence that was not easily approached, and she brought 
to the house a fame such as it never derived from the 
occupancy of its distinguished owner nor any of his 
family. 

When her father built his own home, which is con- 
sidered by many people the most beautiful in Wash- 
ington, her taste found a new field for its display, both 
in the plan of its construction and in its final decora- 
tions. It was minutely described in the press of the 
country, particular emphasis being given to the apart- 
ments appropriated to Miss Leiter's use, so undoubtedly 
was she the social genius of her family and the figure 
who held the interest of the public. 

A few years ago the favorable verdict of a man 
whom a recent historian of New York society has 
designated its self-appointed dictator went far towards 
establishing a woman's reputation for beauty or dis- 
tinction on a national footing. Mr. Ward McAllister 
undoubtedly wielded a singular power and influence, 
and his unqualified admiration of Miss Leiter, while 
it reflects to-day much credit upon his judgment, 
played at the time a considerable part in the wide 
spread of her fame. 

Her development was rapid and continuous, and she 

rose in the course of a few years to a national promi- 

269 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

n.ence. It has been said of her that she was not true 
to early friendships. " The law of nature is alteration 
forevermore," and every mind that expands must out- 
grow the objects that satisfied it at one period of its 
existence unless they are capable in a degree of keeping 
pace with its progress. As a matter of fact, while there 
was a graciousness in her manner towards all with 
whom she came in contact, she formed but few close 
friendships, the natural reserve of her temperament 
rendering it impossible for her to respond easily to 
those intimacies which enter into the lives of so many 
girls. 

During the second administration of President Cleve- 
land there existed between his young wife and Miss 
Leiter a degree of friendship that was as flattering to 
one as it was to the other, for the Clevelands enjoyed the 
reputation of choosing their friends for their personal 
charm. 

During both of his terms of office Mr. Cleveland 
had a home in the suburbs of Washington, where he 
and his family passed much time between seasons, and 
where they frequently entertained the friends whom 
they admitted more or less to their intimacy. There, 
during the spring of the year in which she was married, 
Miss Leiter passed every Sunday prior to that event, 
carrying away with her to another land a vivid im- 
pression of one of the most admirable women who 
ever adorned public life in America. 

England was by no means an unknown country to 

Miss Leiter. She had been accustomed from her early 

270 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

childhood to spending much time in Europe, and a 
London season, which is the climax of many an 
American girl's social ambition, was not a new experi- 
ence to her. The season of 1894, however, marked 
a turning-point in her life. Hon. Thomas F. Bayard, 
who was our Ambassador at the Court of St. James at 
the time, had been married not long before to Miss May 
Clymer, of Washington, a daughter of Dr. Clymer, of 
the navy, and a granddaughter of Admiral Shubrick. 
The Bayards had known Miss Leiter at home, and they 
undoubtedly contributed much to the reception she 
everywhere met during that season in England, for 
they themselves were much sought after, and the dis- 
tinction of their position gave prominence to her. 
They brought her into contact with a class of men 
and women among whom her own highly endowed 
mind found an inspiration on whose wings she rose in 
a short time to a new fame. 

Among those who paid her the tribute of a profound 
admiration was a rising young secretary of the kingdom, 
a man of scholarly tastes and an author of established 
reputation. 

" I found," recently wrote Julian Ralph from India, 
" a sure key to the viceroy's character in between the 
lines of a dozen speeches that he made in January and 
February, 1899. Some of his qualities, more especially 
his quick sympathy, humor, and the sentimental . and 
romantic inclination, are rather more American than 
English. ... It is consoling to us Americans to find 

that the man who has attracted so much beauty and 

271 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

talent away from our country is himself the next thing 
to an American." 

When he met Miss Leiter, though he was but thirty- 
five years of age, Mr. Curzon had been a member of 
Parliament, representing the district of Southport, for 
eight years. He had already wealth and distinction, 
and was the heir to the title of his father, who is the 
fourth Baron Scarsdale. His ambition, moreover, was 
of that high order which found in Miss Leiter a re- 
sponsive attitude and a quickening sympathy. His 
literary and political career in a word, the position he 
had made for himself through his own talents was to 
her a matter of far deeper interest than the eventual 
inheritance of his father's estate and title. The repu- 
tation which his writings on the political questions in 
the East had given him particularly attracted her ad- 
miration. 

Replying four years later to the address of welcome 
delivered to him by the city of Bombay, Lord Curzon 
expressed gratification at its kindly tone both for him- 
self and his wife, who, he said, came to India with 
sympathies as warm as his own, and who looked forward 
with earnest delight to a life of happy labor in the 
midst of its people. 

The interest which Miss Leiter's remarkable career 
had inspired intensified with the announcement of her 
approaching marriage. Her home was besieged by 
newspaper correspondents representing all sections of 
the country, showing how widely she was known. 

The 22d of April the date selected for her wedding 

272 




Mattie Mitchell 

(Duchesse de Rochefoucauld) 

From photograph by C. M. Bell 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

was an ideal spring day. At an early hour in the 
morning people began to gather around St. John's 
Episcopal Church in Washington, where the ceremony 
was to be performed at half-past eleven o'clock, with a 
hope of catching a glimpse of the fair and famous 
bride. By eleven o'clock the streets and sidewalks 
and Lafayette Square were solidly banked with spec- 
tators, and it was with difficulty that a passage-way 
was kept open for the carriages of those who had been 
invited to witness the ceremony. Women cried out 
that they were being crushed, and others fainted, yet 
the crowd continued to increase till the moment of 
the bride's arrival. 

St. John's Church, one of the oldest in Washington, 
is constructed without a central aisle, so that bridal 
parties enter by one side aisle and return by the other. 
Thither have wended their way many couples that have 
passed into fame and history. At its altar, a little more 
than six years before Miss Leiter pronounced her mar- 
riage vows, another American girl, Miss Mary Endicott, 
of Massachusetts, whose father was at the time Secre- 
tary of War, gave her hand to a distinguished son of 
Great Britain, Hon. Joseph Chamberlain. 

The ceremonies at both of these marriages were ex- 
quisitely simple. Bishop Talbott, of Wyoming, offici- 
ated at that of Miss Leiter and Mr. Curzon, assisted 
by Rev. Dr. Mackay Smith, the pastor of the church. 
Lord Lamington acted as best man for Mr. Curzon, 
and Miss Leiter was attended by her two sisters. She 
was singularly pale, and, enveloped in the whiteness of 

18 273 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

her bridal veil and gown, the Easter lilies that adorned 
the altar and chancel seemed not more fair than she. 
Her slender figure looked its full height, which is the 
same as her father's, five feet seven inches. Her face, 
whose every feature is indicative of character and per- 
haps too serious when in repose, but wholly charming 
when lighted by a smile which expresses so much intel- 
ligence and sympathy, bore evidence of the recollection 
of her thoughts. It was, as it is to-day, a face of un- 
usual beauty, oval in shape, with dark-gray eyes, straight 
black brows, a sweet, sensitive mouth, a prettily shaped 
nose, and a low forehead with fine black hair brushed 
simply away from it and emphasizing its whiteness. 

On her wedding-day she solved with her usual good 
sense a problem that has confronted many brides 
since gloves first came to be considered a requisite of 
their costume, as to how under such circumstances a 
ring may be gracefully assumed. She entered and left 
the church with hands uncovered and unadorned save 
by her engagement-ring with its superb setting, a ruby 
and two diamonds, and the gold band which supple- 
mented it. 

The ceremony was witnessed by Mrs. Cleveland, the 
Cabinet Ministers and their families, the diplomatic 
corps, and a number of people of purely social promi- 
nence from several cities in the United States and 
England. 

For the reception which followed, the bride's beau- 
tiful home was decorated entirely with peach-, cherry-, 
and apple-blossoms. She stood beneath her own por- 

274 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

trait, whose frame was suggestively outlined with forget- 
me-nots, to receive the many who gathered about her 
with good wishes and good-byes. 

The first days of her honeymoon were spent at 
" Beauvoir," the suburban Washington home of Mr. 
and Mrs. John R. McLean, who placed it at her dis- 
posal for that period. There she entertained several 
times at dinner, that Mr. Curzon might meet some 
of the people who give charm to the society of the 
American capital. 

The year of his marriage proved also an eventful 
one in the public life of Mr. Curzon. He was made 
Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Privy 
Councillor, and re-elected to his seat in Parliament, all 
within that brief period. 

Shortly after Mr. Curzon's return to England the fall 
of the Rosebery cabinet necessitated a new Parlia- 
mentary election. His American bride entered into 
the English political campaign of the summer of 1 895 
with an enthusiasm that was the delight of his constitu- 
ents and the admiration of his opponents. It was a 
first test of her power in a field that called forth her 
best efforts, and as she became conscious of her strength 
and of the possibility of being a force in the political 
life of a great country, the highest attributes of her 
nature unfolded themselves. Among a people who 
" make a romance of marriage," an electioneering tour 
before the honeymoon had waned roused an interest 
upon whose results no politician, however astute, could 
reckon. Not only did Mrs. Curzon accompany her 

275 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

husband on the occasions when he addressed the people 
of his borough, but, quite independent of him, she 
drove through the Southport district of Lancashire, 
seeing the wives of his constituents and even the 
electors themselves, and manifesting an intelligent in- 
terest in the political affairs of their country that, from 
a foreigner and a beautiful young woman, conveyed a 
most delicate flattery and subtle gratification. 

A Liberal paper, commenting on the election after 
the vote had been cast, gallantly insisted that Curzon 
owed his success far more to the winning smiles and 
irresistible charm of his American wife than he did to 
his own speeches. 

The following four years of Lady Curzon's life were 
spent in England between a town house in London and 
her husband's country-seat, Kedleston Hall, in Derby- 
shire. Two daughters were born to her within that 
period, the first in 1896 and the younger in August, 
1898, shortly after Mr. Curzon's appointment to the 
Governor-Generalship of India. 

Mrs. Curzon's parents visited her every summer, and 
her father bought for her the London residence, Num- 
ber One Carlton House Terrace, the first in a row of 
twenty-two handsome houses with a colonnade of 
marble pillars, overlooking St. James Park, one of the 
most exclusive localities in London. 

In close companionship and absolute sympathy with 
a statesman whose life promised greatness, in the full 
enjoyment of a social existence in which the grace and 
strength of her personality had already made them- 

276 




Mary Victoria Leiter 

(Baroness Curzon of Kedleston) 

From photograph by Miss Alice Hughes 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

selves felt, happily placed in all her relations to life, 
it would have seemed, in consideration of the youth 
of both herself and her husband, that for the time 
being at least their measure of good fortune was well 
filled. In the summer of 1898, however, Mr. Curzon 
was offered the greatest gift of the British government, 
the Governor-Generalship of India. Until Mr. Bal- 
four's authoritative announcement of the fact in the 
House of Commons many people had discredited the 
rumor on the ground that such an office had never 
been offered to a Commoner. 

In India, which Mr. Curzon had visited frequently 
and where he had already become thoroughly known 
through his writings, the news of his nomination was 
received with entire satisfaction. In London it excited 
unusual interest. 

In addition to more or less lengthy editorial com- 
ment, every journal reviewed his strikingly brilliant 
career, and in enumerating his unusual advantages 
through which he might hope for success in the dis- 
charge of the duties of the high office he had accepted, 
his American wife was ranked among the first. It was 
regarded as a happy circumstance that such a woman 
should partake of the glories and responsibilities of 
his position. 

According to an old English statute, a man who is 
duly elected to the House of Commons may not resign 
his seat. It may be vacated only by death, expulsion, 
legal disqualifications, or by accepting an office from 

the crown. As soon as Mr. Curzon was nominated to 

277 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

succeed Lord Elgin, whose term as Governor-General 
of India still had several months to run, in order to 
enable him to sever his connection with the Parliament, 
he received from the queen the appointment of High 
Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of North stead. 

The office, however, is merely honorary, and was re- 
tained only until he was officially proclaimed governor- 
general. His seat in Parliament at the election follow- 
ing his withdrawal was carried by the Liberal candidate, 
the late Sir Herbert Nay lor Ley land, whose wife, an- 
other beautiful American, Miss Jennie Chamberlain, 
of Cleveland, had played much the same part in his 
campaign as Mrs. Curzon, under similar circumstances, 
had taken in that of her husband. 

During the month following Mr. Curzon's appoint- 
ment to the governor-generalship he was elevated to 
the peerage as Baron Curzon of Kedleston. As the 
name in which he had made his reputation, he desired 
to retain Curzon in his title. 

The eldest son of Earl Howe being Viscount Curzon, 
however, he was obliged to agree to two conditions 
imposed by Lord Howe, first, to be known now as 
Curzon of Kedleston, and, second, on succeeding to 
his father's title, to drop Curzon Kedleston, which was 
never to be resumed either by himself or his heirs. 

A new life, quite unlike anything she had known, 
now opened before Lady Curzon, a life of real power 
over millions of subjects, a life of significant cere- 
monial and regal pomp, in which this daughter of a 
republic assumed with her husband the leading role. 

278 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

She entered completely into its spirit, planning all the 
details of a sumptuous existence which is so highly 
gratifying to an Eastern people and in such perfect 
accord with its conceptions of power. India likes to 
see the outward form of empire, and measures thereby 
its internal strength. 

Lady Curzon was already familiar with the political 
and historical side of the country whither fortune was 
leading her. For her acquaintance with its social side, 
which more especially concerned her, she equipped 
herself with that same faultless taste that had marked 
her career in the society of her own country and 
England. 

With the lavish hospitality she had in contemplation, 
she ordered, several weeks before her departure from Eng- 
land, thousands of cards of invitation for dinners, even- 
ing receptions, and garden-parties, including menu cards 
and ball programmes. For all of these occasions she 
provided herself with the appropriate habiliments whose 
exquisite details, the art with which they were chosen, 
and the genius with which they were worn, becoming 
identified with her personal beauty, acquired shortly 
after her appearance in Calcutta a fame as wide as the 
empire. 

Her last days in England forshadowed the glories of 
her life in India. At a ball given at Welbeck Abbey 
by the Duke and Duchess of Portland in honor of the 
Duke and Duchess of Connaught, shortly before her 
departure, Lady Curzon of Kedleston, whose grace had 

once given charm to many an American ball-room, was 

279 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

among the few honored with a place in the royal 
quadrille. While the Portlands do not entertain often, 
they enjoy the reputation of having the most sump- 
tuous social functions that are witnessed anywhere in 
England. Their supper-tables glitter with a gold ser- 
vice of great artistic and intrinsic value, and their 
spacious picture-gallery makes a ball-room whose at- 
tractiveness is seldom rivalled. 

For several days Lord and Lady Curzon were guests 
at Welbeck, going from there to Southport to make 
a farewell visit to Lord Curzon's old Parliamentary 
district, in which Lady Curzon had won votes and 
admiration in the first days of her residence in Eng- 
land. The locomotive of the train in which they 
made the journey was decorated with the royal stand- 
ard and the stars-and-stripes, Lady Curzon's nationality 
being, as it always is, thus gracefully remembered. 
The streets of the town were similarly decorated, in- 
cluding, besides the insignia of the two great Anglo- 
Saxon countries, the star of India. 

It was a memorable day in Southport, whose popu- 
lation turned out en masse to welcome them, the city 
and county functionaries in their official robes greeting 
them at the railroad station. As they drove through 
the streets of the town, their coach drawn by four 
horses, the bells of Christ Church peeled forth a joy- 
ous welcome, and pride and admiration shone in every 
face that lined the route to the art-gallery. There they 
held a public reception, Sir William Forwood presiding 

and making a speech, in which he dwelt with gratifica- 

280 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

tion upon the unqualified approval expressed by the 
nation at Lord Curzon's appointment as Governor- 
General of India, and referred gallantly to the charm 
which the young American vicereine would impart to 
the court. 

On the 3Oth of December Lord and Lady Curzon 
landed at Bombay amid the firing of a royal salute 
from the war-ships in port. The city welcomed them 
with a display of much magnificence in its decorations 
and a manifestation of genuine cordiality, presenting 
its address to that effect in an elaborately wrought silver 
casket. 

At the governor's house they were received by 
Lord and Lady Sandhurst, Lord Sandhurst being Gov- 
ernor of Bombay, and ranking second in authority to 
the governor-general. 

It was here that Lord and Lady Curzon made their 
first social appearance in India at a ball and reception 
given in their honor. Beyond the fact that Lord 
Curzon's wife was an American, prior to that night India 
knew but little of her. Happy and beautiful, with the 
added brilliancy which appreciation and success impart 
to every woman, she made instantly an impression of 
loveliness which in a few days had spread over India and 
still prevails, resting now, however, on a more en- 
during basis. 

The impression, in fact, created by both Lord and 
Lady Curzon at Bombay paved the way to the enthu- 
siasm with which they were received at Calcutta a few 

days later. 

281 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

The city was richly decorated, the American flag 
being everywhere conspicuously displayed amid evi- 
dences of Oriental splendor. It has been estimated 
that not less than one hundred thousand people wit- 
nessed the magnificent spectacle of their reception at 
the palace. 

The imposing width of the double terrace of steps 
that lead to the main entrance was covered with a rich 
red carpet terminating in the green sward of the lawn, 
where, in the magnificent uniform of the army forming 
part of the military service of India, one hundred men 
of the Calcutta Rifles and one hundred men of the 
First Gloucester Regiment, in scarlet, with their band, 
stood attention. 

At the foot of the steps the Life-Guard, in gorgeous 
red array, consisting of one hundred and twenty Indi- 
ans selected for their fine size and physique, grouped 
itself. At the top, two colossal palms lifted their noble 
branches, while the vine-clad balustrades added another 
touch of color to the picturesque setting of the scene, 
which was further enhanced by the presence of many 
native chiefs and dignitaries in the splendor of their 
rich attire. 

In the distance the cannon of Fort Williams boomed 
a mighty welcome to the new powers as they drove 
under the great arch of the outer gate surmounted by 
its massive lions. Beneath the limitless blue of a 
tropical sky, with everywhere the luxuriant verdure of 
a tropical landscape, this was the scene, reflecting both 

the power of England and the magnificence and an- 

282 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

tiquity of the Orient, that greeted Lady Curzon, who 
had opened her eyes on life thirty years before in a new 
city of a new world thousands of miles away. 

To the vast concourse of Europeans and Orientals 
who beheld Lord and Lady Curzon as they mounted 
the steps and entered the palace they conveyed a sense 
of entire satisfaction, so absolutely do they realize in 
stature, bearing, and poise the conception of a noble 
sovereignty. Lord Curzon is more than six feet in 
height and of proportionate breadth, while his whole 
manner denotes the vigor of youth, mentally as well 
as physically. 

It is a strange coincidence, first, that the Government 
House at Calcutta should have been built by the Mar- 
quis of Wellesley, who at a later period, during his 
Governor-Generalship of Ireland, married, as already 
stated, the beautiful Baltimorean, Mary Caton Patter- 
son, and, in the second place, that it should have been 
copied, with slight modification, from Lord Curzon's 
ancestral home, Kedleston Hall. After a visit to the 
latter place, Wellesley declared that if he ever had a 
house to build he should take it for his model. 

In 1799, during his term as Governor-General of 
India, it fell to his lot to erect at Calcutta the viceregal 
palace known as Government House, and he built it 
on a plan well in keeping with the dignity of the great 
European power which rules over two-thirds of India. 

The first two social events held at Government 
House after the instalment of Lord Curzon as gov- 
ernor-general were the levee on the yth of January, 

283 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

1899, which was attended by sixteen hundred gentle- 
men, and the drawing-room on the 12th of the same 
month, at which Lady Curzon wore her viceregal hon- 
ors with irresistible graciousness. After the presenta- 
tions, which were made in the throne-room, Lord and 
Lady Curzon standing in front of the magnificent gold 
throne upon a velvet-covered dais, she went up into 
the ball-room, which occupies the entire third floor of 
the central portion of the palace, and which is said to 
be one of the handsomest in the world, and there min- 
gled among her guests with a grace as charming and 
unaffected as if she were again hostess in either her 
American or her English home instead of the representa- 
tive of the Queen of England and Empress of India. 

When we consider her exalted position and her un- 
usual personality, the rapidity with which she has es- 
tablished herself in the affections of the people all over 
the empire ceases to be a matter of wonderment. The 
good judgment and tact of both the viceroy and his 
wife have prevented them from falling into the grave 
error of some of their predecessors in showing a prefer- 
ence for the European over the educated native ele- 
ment. As a result, Lady Curzon's praises have been 
proclaimed by the latter in the glowing language that 
is peculiar to them as frequently as they have been by 
the former. Ram Sharma, an Indian poet, referred to 
her, in the course of some lines of welcome addressed 
to Lord Curzon, as 

" A rose of roses bright, 
A vision of embodied light." 
284 



flflf -. 






Miss May Handy 
From photograph hy James L. Breese 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

Another native scribe, when she received the decoration 
of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, declared 
her to be " like a diamond set in gold, or the full moon 
in a clear autumnal sky." 

Not only by her youth and beauty and her social 
graces, however, has she endeared herself to the people 
of India. With a high appreciation of the viceregal 
position and of the duty owing to their subjects under 
all circumstances, Lord and Lady Curzon last winter 
made a tour of the plague-stricken districts of the em- 
pire. Besides advising and making intelligent sugges- 
tions to those who were working among the sufferers, 
they in many cases personally provided for their care, 
and by unselfish heroism bound the whole nation to 
them by ties of profound gratitude and a tender per- 
sonal affection, augmenting thereby India's loyalty to 
the queen-empress. 

The wives and families of India's viceroys have found 
a broad field for the exercise of their benevolent tenden- 
cies, and not a few have left here noble monuments to 
the memory of their days in the great black empire. 
Eden Gardens is one, the beautiful public park adjoining 
the grounds of the viceregal residence and the gift of 
Lord Auckland's sisters to the city of Calcutta. The 
Dufferin Medical Mission is another, inaugurated by 
Lady Dufferin during the governor-generalship of her 
husband as a means of providing medical help for the 
women of India. 

A few weeks after her arrival in the empire Lady 

Curzon presided at a meeting of the central committee 

285 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

of the Dufferin fund, and manifested a keen interest in 
the noble charity. 

It has within the last thirty years become customary 
for the entire English government in India to spend 
the six hot months of the year in Simla, the town in 
the Himalayan hills whose singular natural and social 
topography have become familiar in late years to 
many English readers through Kipling's Indian tales. 
The Foreign Office at London recently expended a large 
sum of money in the erection of suitable buildings 
there, including a new viceregal residence that is a vast 
improvement over its predecessor, which was little more 
than a cottage. It was perched on a precipitous crag, 
and Lady Dufferin used to compare it to the ark 
balanced on Mount Ararat, adding that in the rainy 
season she herself felt like Mrs. Noah. 

The villa at Simla and the palaces at Calcutta and 
at Barrackpore on the river near the capital constitute 
the trio of viceregal residences in which the Curzons 
are passing the five years of their life in India. None 
of them is a home in the meaning we give that word, 
a place of privacy and relaxation, for each has its own 
degree of state and formality. They live to-day in the 
glare of the world, with no more seclusion than ever 
falls either to "the head that wears a crown" or to 
those to whom it delegates its power. The state that 
encompasses them does not conceal the personality of 
either, and both are full of interest. 

Marrying a man whose life promised so much, Mary 

Leiter has undoubtedly been a factor in the early cul- 

286 



MARY VICTORIA LEITER 

mination of that promise. She is spoken of through- 
out India with love and pride, and when Lord Curzon's 
day comes to pass the government into other hands, 
it may be that the empire will be placarded with signs, 
as it was, says a recent historian, when Lord Ripon re- 
tired, bearing a legend similar to that they bore then : 
" We want more Curzons !" 



287 



NEW YORK AS A SOCIAL 
CENTRE 

THE women who, both at home and abroad, are 
regarded as the leaders of American society in 
these last days of the century are or have been, 
almost without exception, at some time in their career 
identified with New York. Though there is no city 
in the United States that fills the central position which 
Paris holds in reference to all France, and which Lon- 
don occupies, at least socially, in England, the geo- 
graphical position of New York, to a nation whose 
progressive spirit inspires it with a keen interest in the 
doings of the entire world, has given it a leading place, 
and to the commanding position it holds in the finan- 
cial life of the American people it undoubtedly owes 
much of its prominence as a social centre. 

Those who at present constitute its ruling element, 
and who in the eyes of the country at large form the 
unit of New York society, are, as a rule, the possessors 
of enormous wealth. The elegance of their various 
homes, the magnificence of their hospitalities, the lux- 
urious state in which they travel, all tend to give them 
an immense influence in a young country where such 
a princely scale of existence was practically unknown 
thirty-five years ago, and where there are many striving 

for similar results. 

288 




; Catherine Duer 
(Mrs. Clarence Mackay) 



NEW YORK AS A SOCIAL CENTRE 

Women born of this class, and who possess, in addi- 
tion to the advantages it bestows upon them, personal 
gifts of an unusual order, have from the very outset of 
their social career a remarkable fame and prestige. In 
some instances they come of families who have been 
distinguished in the life of New York since the days 
when the homes of the people who made up its one 
set were gathered about the battery and lower end of 
the town, and when the division of its classes was the 
natural one of condition, and not the arbitrary one 
which its abnormal growth has entailed upon it in 
recent years. 

New York's belles in the early century were for 
the most part native, and anything so remote as the 
Pacific coast, whence comes one of its belles of the 
present era, entered nobody's wildest dreams. 

A Franklin flies his kite, a Fulton is born, a Morse 
flashes his reverent thought fifty miles in the twinkling 
of an eye, and lo ! the ages in which man crept and 
groped have rolled from us. Distance has lost the 
meaning it had a little more than a hundred years ago, 
when Lady Kitty Duer was accounted one of the belles 
of New York ; they come now from every section of 
the country to add their charm to the life of the me- 
tropolis. 

Many of these beautiful women, moreover, are as 
celebrated in European capitals as they are through- 
out America, and it is difficult to estimate how much 
of our fame in the eyes of other nations we owe to 

them. To stand forth, however, in their own country 
19 289 



FAMOUS AMERICAN BELLES 

as beings unusually gifted is quite as great a triumph 
to-day as it was more than a hundred years ago. 

" Your countrywoman, Mrs. Wolcott," said the min- 
ister from England, admiring the beauty of the Con- 
necticut statesman's wife, to an official of the young 
government in the days when its capital was located in 
New York, " would be admired even at St. James." 

" Sir," replied the American, " she is admired even on 
Litchfield Hill." 



290 



INDEX 



Adams, Hannah, 150 

Adams, John, 22 

Adams, John Quincy, 74 

Adams, Mrs. John, 14 

Alabama, story of, 105 

Albany, Duke of, 202 

Allen, James Lane, 148 

Alston, Joseph, 30, 38 

Alston, Mrs. Joseph. See Theodosia 

Burr 

American Graces, 62, 66 
Amory, William, 97 
Andr, Major, 191 
Ariosto, 116 

Armstrong, General, 50 
Armstrong, Vene P., 159 
Astor, Mrs., in 

Atlantic Transport Company, 255 
August, Tom, 179 
Ayot, Alexis, 145 



Bache, Mrs. Richard, 193 

Bache, Richard, 193 

Baily, Dr. Gamaliel, 214 

Baker, Mrs. George W., 171 

Baltimore, city of, 39 

Bard, Dr., 29 

Barney, Commodore, 44 

Barton, Dr. Benjamin, 87 

Barton, Mrs. Thomas Pennant. See 

Cora Livingston 
Barton, Thomas Pennant, 87 
Bateman, Abraham, 254 
Bayard, Hon. Thomas F., 271 
Beaconsfield, Lord, 248 



Beale, General, 88 

Beauregard, General, 234 

" Beauvoir," 275 

Bellefontaine Cemetery, 263 

Bentham, Jeremy, 19 

Benton, Jessie, 123 

Benton, Thomas Hart, 123, 125, 126 

Bernhardt, Sarah, 200 

Bingham, Mrs. William, 192 

Bingham, William, 192 

Bladensburg duel, 85 

Elaine, James G., 268 

Blenheim Palace, 244 

Blennerhassett, 34 

Bodisco, Baron, 127 

Bolin, Lieutenant-Governor, 92 

Bonaparte, Jerome, 28, 43, 44, 64 

Bonaparte, Jerome Napoleon, 53, 59 

Bonaparte, Louis Napoleon, 59 

Bonaparte, Madame Jerome, 39, 67. 

See Elizabeth Patterson 
Bonaparte, Napoleon, 42, 43, 48, 51, 

55,67 

Bonaparte, Pauline, 56, 58 
Bonsteller, Baron, 57 
Borghese, Princess. See Pauline 

Bonaparte 
Boston Library, 88 
Bourne, Sylvanus, 53 
Bradley-Martin, Mrs., 255 
Brant, Indian Chief, 29 
Brattle, Thomas, 92 
Bremer, Frederika, 108, 115 
Bright, Mr. John, 247 
British Society, 239 
Browning, Mrs., 114 
Buchanan, James, 161, 164, 167, 170, 

174 181, 232 



291 



INDEX 



Burdett-Coutts, Baroness, 253 

Burdett-Coutts, Mr., 253 

Burns, Davy, 12 

Burns, Marcia, n 

Burr, Aaron, 13, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 26, 

32 

Burr, Madam, 267 
Burr, Rev. Aaron, 28 
Burr, Theodosia, 18, 48 



Cabell, Lizzie, 230 

Calderon, Madame de la Barca, 

101 

Calhoun, John C., 16 
Calhoun, Mrs. John C., 75 
Calverts, the, 14 
Camber, Miss, 103 
"Canonchet," 219 
Carlton House Terrace, 276 
Carmichael, Ann, 231 
Carroll, Charles, 41, 61, 63, 150, 191, 

264 

Carroll, Daniel, 12, 14 
Carroll, John, 61 

Carroll, John, Archbishop, 46, 64 
Carroll, Kitty, 61 
Carroll, Mary, 61 
Carucci's, 86 
Caton, Elizabeth, 62, 68 
Caton, Emily, 62, 68 
Caton, Louisa, 62, 65, 68 
Caton, Mary, 62, 264 
Caton, Richard, 61, 62 
Caton Sisters, 61 
Chamberlain, Hon. Joseph, 273 
Chamberlain, Jennie, 278 
Chamberlain, Mrs. Joseph, 255 
Chase, Kate, 206 
Chase, Salmon P., 207-210, 212, 214, 

215, 220, 223 
Chase, Samuel, 45 
Chatsworth House, 252 
Chevalier, Sally, 118, 119 
Chew, Harriet, 191 
Chew, Margaret, 191 



Churchill, Lady Randolph. See 
Jennie Jerome 

Churchill, Lord Randolph, 240, 244, 
248, 250, 255 

Churchill, Winston, 252 

Cincinnati, site of, 195 

" City of New York," steamship, 250 

Clarke, James Freeman, 101 

Clay, Henry, 82, 108, no 

Clemmer, Mary, 163 

Cleveland, Mrs., 162, 274 

Cleveland, President, 270 

Clinton, Governor De Witt, 73 

Clintons, the, 20 

Clymer, Dr., 271 

Clymer, Miss May, 271 

Columbia College, 15 

Conkling, Roscoe, 214 

Curzon, Baroness. See Mary Vic- 
toria Leiter 

Curzon, Lord, 264, 265, 272, 273, 275 

Custer, General, 160 

Custis, Nellie, 191 

Custis, widow, 12 

Cutts, Adele, 175 

Cutts, James Madison, 175, 186 

Cutts, Richard, 176, 178 



Dallas, Alexander J., 46 

Davezac, Major August, 83 

Davis, Jefferson, 163 

Decatur, Mrs., 84, 85 

Decatur Residence, 84 

De Stael, Madame, 57 

De Visme, Miss, 21 

DeVisme, Mrs., 20 

Devonshire, Duchess of, 253 

Dix, Mrs., 145 

Dix, Senator, 135 

" Doughoregan," 62 

Douglas, Mrs. Stephen A. See 

Adele Cutts 
Douglas, Stephen A., 175, 180, 182, 

184 
Downs, George F., 159 



292 



INDEX 



Downs, Mrs. George F. See Sallie 

Ward 

Duddington Manor, 14 
Duer, Lady Kitty, 289 
Dufferin, Lady, 285, 286 
Dufferin, Lord, 285 
Dufferin Medical Mission, 285 
Dundas, Hon. Mr., 57 



Eaton, General John H., 75, 78 
Eaton, Mrs. John H. See Margaret 

O'Neill 

Eden Gardens, 285 
Eden Park, 197 
" Edgewood," 225, 226, 228 
Edwards, Jonathan, 28 
Electoral Commission, 260 
Elgin, Lord, 278 
Ellis, Colonel Thomas Harding, 

121 
Ellis, Mrs. Thomas Harding. See 

Fanny Taylor 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 266 
Endicott, Miss Mary, 273 
England, Bishop, 66 
England, Queen of, 116, 239, 255, 278, 

284 
English, Miss, school of, 130 



Federal Street Theatre, 91 
Fife, Earl of, 243 
Fillmore, Millard, 116 
Five o'clock tea, 95 
Flournoy, Miss, 149 
Fox, Charles James, 253 
France, Emperor of, 116 
France, Prince Imperial of, 242 
Franklin, Benjamin, 193 
Franks, David, 191 
Franks, Miss Rebecca, 190 
Fremont, John C., 123, 130, 143 
Fremont, Mrs. John C. See Jessie 
Benton 



Frewen, Moreton, 246 
Fuller, Margaret, 93 
Fulton, Robert, 108, 289 



Gallatin, Albert, 35 
Gait, William, 119 
Garde, de la, Count, 146 
Garniss, Katherine, 209 
Garrison, William Lloyd, 98 
Gary, General, 234 
Gilpin, Hon. Henry D., 200 
Gilpin, Mrs. Henry D., 196 
Gordon, General, 234 
Gordon, Sir John Watson, 173 
Gortschakoff, 57 
Government House, 283 
Grant, General, 223, 261 
Greeley, Horace, 221 
Green, Timothy, 36 
Greenmount Cemetery, 60 
Greenough, Horatio, 17 
Gutherz, Carl, 263 



Hall, Captain Basil, 57 

Hamilton, Alexander, 13, 15, 20, 23 

32 

Hamilton, Andrew, 191 
Hampton, General Wade, 234 
Handy, May, 233 
Harper, Mary, 150 
Harris, Miss, 186, 187 
Harrison, Archibald Morgan, 120 
Harrison, Benjamin, 121 
Harrison, William Henry, 122, 131 
Harte, Bret, 146 
Haxall, Mrs. Philip, 235 
Hayes, Rutherford B., 260, 261 
Hay ward, Mrs., seminary of, 72 
Hazeltine, Captain William B., 258 
Hazeltine, Nellie, 257 
Henry, James Buchanan, 171 
Hervey, Sir Felton Bathurst, 65 
Hobbes, John Oliver, 254 



293 



INDEX 



Holme, Thomas, 195 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 63 

Hood, General, 234 

Hosack, Dr., 29 

Howard, Colonel John Eager, 45, 

191 

Howe, Lord, 278 
Hoyt, William Sprague, 222 
Hughes-Hallett, Colonel, 204 
Hughes-Hallett, Mrs. See Emilie 

Schaumburg 
Hunt, Dr., 158 
Hunt, John, 158 
Huygens, 76 
Huygens, Mrs., 76 



India, Viceroy of, 264 

Inglis, Fanny, 101 

Ireland, Governor-General of, 254 

Ireland, Vicereine of, 264 

Irving, Washington, 34, 108, 109 



Jackson, Andrew, 16, 74, 82, 105, 125, 

128 

James, Henry, 254 
Jefferson, Joseph, in 
Jefferson, Thomas, 15, 18, 19, 34 
Jerome, Jennie, 239 
Jerome, Leonard, 241 
Jerome, Mrs. Leonard, 242 
Jockey Club, 241 
Johnson, Governor of Maryland, 

12 

Johnson's Band, 193 
Johnston, General Joe, 234 
Johnston, Henry Elliott, 174 
Johnston, Mrs. Henry Elliott. See 

Harriet Lane 
Johnston, Sir Henry, 191 
Junot, General, 51 
Junot, Madame, 43, 51 



Kedleston Hall, 283 
Key, Barton, 233 
King, Preston, 145 
Krudner, Baron, 76 



Lafayette, General, 84, 106, 195 

La Grange, Madame, 202 

Lamartine, 104 

Lane, Elliot, 164 

Lane, Harriet, 161 

Lane, Mary, 167 

Lawrence, Bigelow, 155, 156 

Lawrence, Hon. Abbott, 155 

Le Camus, Alexander, 46, 54 

Leeds, Duke of, 68 

Leiter, Joseph, 267 

Leiter, Levi Z., 267 

Leiter, Mary Victoria, 264 

Le Vert, Dr. Claud, 110 

Le Vert, Dr. Henry S., no 

LeVert, Madame. See Octavia 

Walton 

Lewis, Mrs. Nellie Custis, 121 
Leyland, Naylor, Sir Herbert, 278 
Lincoln, Abraham, 124, 141, 143, 173, 

183-185, 215, 220 
Livingston, Chancellor, 81 
Livingston, Cora, 80 
Livingston, Edward, 29, 81 
Livingston, Mrs. Edward, 16 
Livingston, Robert, 48, 50 
Livingstons, The, 20 
Louis Philippe, 28 
Louisville Guard, 154 
Louisville Legion, 154 
Lucas, Charles, 88 
Ludlow, Israel, 212 
Ludlow, Sarah, 212 
Lyons, Mrs. James, 179 



Macfarland, James Edward, 170 
Mactavish, John, 68 
Madison, James, 35, 178 



INDEX 



Madison, Mrs. James, 35, 178 
" Maine," hospital ship, 255 
Malvern College, 250 
Marlborough, Duchess of, 240 
Marlborough, Duke of, 243, 247, 256 
Marshall, Emily, 90 
Marshall, John, 13, 33 
Marshall, Josiah, 91 
Marshall, Lieutenant Isaac, 92 
Martin, Luther, 13, 34 
Mary Institute, 257 
Mason, John Y., 122, 270 
McAllister, Ward, 269 
McCall, Mr. and Mrs. John A., 236 
McDowell, Colonel James, 127 
McFarlane, Thomas Holme, 195 
McLean, Mr. and Mrs. John R., 

275 

Middleton, Arthur, 16 
Montgomery Place, 87 
" Montplaisir," 204, 205 
Moore, Tom, 15, 56 
Moreau, Madame, 81 
Morgan, Lady, 41, 56, 57 
Morgan, Sir Charles, 57 
Mornington, Earl of, 66 
Morse, S. F. B., 129, 289 
Mount Vernon, 172 

N 

New Orleans, society of, 83 
New York as a Social Centre, 288 



Octagon House, 14 

O'Neale, Miss Ellen, 177 

O'Neill, Margaret, 69 

O'Neill, William, 70 

Otis, Harrison Gray, 94 

Otis, Mrs. Harrison Gray, 116 

Otis, Mrs. William Foster. See 

Emily Marshall 
Otis, William Foster, 100 
Ould, Mattie, 230, 262, 263 
Ould, Robert, 232 



Page, Colonel James, 198 

Page, Miss, 197 

Page, Stephen, 197 

Page, Thomas Nelson, 120 

Paget, Mrs. Arthur, 255 

Paramore, Frederick W., 263 

Paramore, Mrs. Frederick W. See 

Nellie Hazeltine 
Paramore, J. W., 263 
Park, Dr., school of, 93 
Parker, Gilbert, 254 
Parker, Miss Hetty, 166, 168 
Parsons, Colonel Richard, 216 
Pascault, Miss Henrietta, 44 
Patterson, Elizabeth, 39, 64 
Patterson, Mrs. (Mary Caton), 264 
Patterson, Robert, 49, 64, 264 
Patterson, William, 40, 47, 48, 54, 64 
Patti, Adelina, 200 
Payne, Anna, 176 
Penal Laws, 88 
Penn, Imogene, 179 
Perry, Commodore, 216 
Piatt, Donn, 220 
Picket, General, 234 
Pierce, Franklin, 181 
Pinckney, Edward C., 71 
Pitt, William, 53, 253 
Poe, Edgar Allen, 71 
Polk, Mrs., 167 
Polk, President, 167 
Pope Pius, 52 
Portland, Duke and Duchess of, 279, 

280 

Prevost, Colonel, 20 
Prevost, Mrs., 21 
Primrose League, 246, 247 
Princeton College, 28 



Quincy, Josiah, 80 



Ralph, Julian, 271 
Randall, Samuel, 260 
Randolph, John, 15, 33, 74, 126 



295 



INDEX 



Reed, Thomas B., 176 
Reid, Whitelaw, 254 
Republican Party, origin of, 143 
Review, Anglo-Saxon, 254 
Rewbell, General, 44, 45 
" Richmond Hill," 21, 29, 31, 32 
Ridgley, Charles, 63 
Rives, Alexander, 118 
Robinson, Miss Nancy, 63 
Rosebery Cabinet, 275 
Rosebery, Lord, 254 
Rucker, Miss, 167 
Rush, Madam, HI, 198 
Rush, Richard, 65 
Rutland, Duke of, in 



Salisbury, Lord, 248, 265 
Sampoyo, Duke de, 78 
Sandhurst, Lord and Lady, 281 
Sargent (artist), 256 
Scarsdale, Baron, 272 
Schaumburg, Colonel Bartholomew, 

194 

Schaumburg, Emilie, 190 
Schaumburg-Lippe, Princess, 197 
Schoolcraft, Mrs. Oliver. See Mattie 

Quid 

Schoolcraft, Oliver, 236 
Schurz, Carl, 221 
Secaneh, Indian Chief, 195 
Shippen, Margaret, 192 
Shubrick, Admiral, 271 
Sickles, General Daniel, 233 
Slidell, Mr., 109 
Smalcalden, Princess of, 54 
Smith, Eliza Ann, 209 
Smith, General Samuel, 47 
Smith, Rev. Dr. Mackay, 273 
Spear, Dorcas, 41 
Spear, Elizabeth, 164 
Sprague, Governor William, 217 
Sprague, Kate Chase, 187 
Sprague, Mrs. William. See Kate 

Chase 
Stafford, Baron, 68 



Stanton, Edwin M., 233 

State Fencibles (Pennsylvania), 198 

Stewart, Gilbert, 254 

Sturgis, Russell, 93 

Sullivan, John, 169 

Susahena, Indian Princess, 195 

Sweetenham, Sir Frank, 254 



Talbot, Bishop, 273 
Tallahassee, naming of, 106 
Talleyrand, 28, 57 
Tayloes, the, 14 
Taylor, Fanny, 118 
Tennyson, Alfred, 170 
Tilden, Samuel J., 259, 260 
Timberlake, John B., 73 
Timberlake, Virginia, 78 
Triplett, Mary, 230, 235 
Tureau, General, 48, 51 
Turpin, Miss Sarah, 233 



Union Tavern (Georgetown), 70 



Van Buren, Martin, 76, 77, 82, 127 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 108 

Van Ness, Ann, 16 

Van Ness, John Peter, 15 

Van Ness, Mrs. John Peter. See 

Marcia Burns 
Van Rensselaers, the, 20 
Vaughan, British Minister, 76 
Visitation Convent, 168 
Volney, 28, 29 

w 

Wales, Prince of, 172, 173, 199, 252 
Wales, Princess Louise of, 243 
Wales, Princess of, 252 
Walker, Miss Sally, 104 
Walton, George, 103, 106 
Walton, Octavia, 102 



296 



INDEX 



Ward, Artemus, 220 

Ward, Robert J., 149 

Ward, Sallie, 148 

Warwick, Abram, 118 

Washington City Orphan Asylum, 

17 

Washington, George, n, 12, 22, 70 
Washington, George Steptoe, 176 
Washington, Martha, 121 
Waterman, Priscilla, 92 
Watson, Sally, 118 
Wayne, Anthony, 160 
Webster, Daniel, 13, 78, 82, 90 
Welbeck Abbey, 279, 280 
Wellesley, Lady, 264, 265 
Wellesley, Marquis of, 66, 264, 283 
Wellesley, Richard, 66 
Wellington, Duke of, 65, 67 
West, Mrs. George Cornwallis, 255. 

See Jennie Jerome 
Westphalia, King of, 54 
"Wheatland," 165, 173, 174 
White House, the, 162, 163 
Wilcox, Mary Donalson, 87 



William IV., 65, 67 
Williams, General Robert, 187 
Williams, Miss (Baroness Bodisco), 

127 

Williams, Miss Susan Mary, 59 
Williams, Mrs. Robert. See Adele 

Cutts 
Willing, Ann. See Mrs. William 

Bingham 

Willis, N. P., 98, 99 
Wolcott, Mrs., 290 
Wolf, Sir H. Drummond, 246 
Wollstonecraft, Mary, 24 
"Woodlands," 191 
Wortley, Lady Emeline Stuart, 107, 

in 

Wurtemburg, King of, 54 
Wurtemburg, Prince of, 57 
Wurtemburg, Princess Catherine of, 

54,58 



Yorktown, Battle of, 103 
Young, General, 231 



THE END 



297 



THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ 

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