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f ""^HE origin of Eugenie de Montijo is no 

less puzzling than her complex Ego. 

According to the official version and 

those writers who complacently adhere 

to it, Maria-Eugenia-Ignacia-Augustina was born 

on May 5, 1826, in Granada capital of Andalusia 

and famous for its lovely women. 

Her father was Cipriano Antonio de Guzman- 
Palafox y Porto-Carrero, Count de Teba, Mar- 
quess d'Ardales, afterwards Count de Montijo, 
Duke de Penaranda, etc., and grandee of Spain. 

Her mother was Maria-Manuela Kirkpatrick of 

Prospere Merimee, together with Augustin 
Filon, were responsible for the official version. 

Merimee was an old friend of the Countess de 
Montijo, who " amazed and enchanted him by her 
grace, her mental activity, the variety of her con- 
versation and the extent of her knowledge." It 


was she who gave him the story for " Carmen, 1 * 
which became so popular throughout the world. 

The little village of Montijo is situated in the 
province of Badajoz. In 1697, Charles II. of 
Spain granted to John of Porto-Carrero the title 
of Count. The Porto-Carreros came to Spain from 
Genoa ; one of them married into the ancient 
house of Guzman, through which marriage they 
became Counts de Teba. 

Merimee, who was entrusted by the Empress of 
the French \vith the task of writing her biography, 
says that of the marriage of a Porto-Carrero and a 
Countess de Teba were born three brothers : 
Antonio, Branlio and Joaquin. Joaquin, he says, 
married Maria-Manuela Kirkpatrick, a daughter 
of William Kirkpatrick of Closeburn. His wife 
was Dona Francisca de Grevigne, of a noble family 
from Liege, and whose sister, Dona Catalina, 
married Count Mathieu de Lesseps, Commissary 
General of the French Republic in Spain and 
father of the famous Ferdinand de Lesseps, whose 
name will shine on the pages of history notwith- 
standing the mud thrown at it by the Jews and the 
Republicans. He was a second cousin of the 
Empress of the French. 

However, in the file of the Gazette des Tribunaux 
for 1831 there is a report of a law-suit which throws 
a very different light on the marriage of Joaquin 
de Montijo.* 

This document, which is given in full in the 
Appendix, proves that a lady named Dona Maria 

* See Appendix. 


del Pilar married Joaquin, Count Teba, the only 
Montijo who served under Napoleon in 1810, and 
who, in 1814, fired the last shot against the allied 
troops; that they were divorced in 1813 and be- 
came reconciled in 1820 ; that in 1823 Dona Maria 
became a widow with two children, a girl who died 
in 1823, and a boy who passed away at the age of 

However, according to the official version, 
Pacca, the elder daughter of Dona Maria Manuela, 
was born in 1825, and Eugenie, the future 
Empress of the French, in 182G. 

In presence of these facts, one must surmise that 
either the quoted document concerns Dona Maria 
Manuela's sister-in-law or that after the death of 
her first husband she married one of her brothers- 
in-law the second Count de Montijo having died 
only in 1839. 

At any rate, that Count de Montijo who in 1814 
fought for France cannot be Eugenie's father, as 
the official version has it. His Christian name was 
Joaquin, and this was not the name given of 
Eugenie's father. Was her father, then, Don 
Antonio de Montijo, who hated France? This 
Montijo died in 1839, while his brother, who fought 
gallantly at Buttes-Chaumont, passed away two 
years before her birth. 

Where is the truth? Why do the official 
biographers and their followers affirm that 
Eugenie's father was that Montijo who fought for 
France, when it is obviously untrue? 

When these doubts were expressed in the 
Opposition press under the Empire, several law- 


suits were instituted against the authors of the 
articles ; then the Imperial Government not only 
caused certain papers to disappear from the Court 
archives, but even destroyed the reports published 
in the Gazette des Tribunaux. In this regard 
Rochefort said in La Lanterne, of September 20th, 
1808 : 

"It is a known fact that the present govern- 
ment caused the report of the Montijo law-suits to 
be eliminated from all the files of the Gazette des 
Tribunaux in France." 

Rochefort's veracity might be doubted, but his 
statement is supported by the Count de Vieil- 
Castel, who was born at Malmaison, brought up in 
the Napoleonic cult, and who in his Memoirs says 
that " Napoleon III. is convinced that it is pos- 
sible to impose upon posterity by falsifying 
present-day history." 

This falsification was extended even to Valla- 
dolid, w r here the Imperial police caused all docu- 
ments concerning the Montijo suits to disappear. 
Moreover, the authorities of Granada refused to 
furnish any documents concerning the Montijos, 
although they should have been proud that an 
Empress was born in their city. 

Irenee Mauget says in her interesting L'Impe"ra- 
trice Eugenie that " the Count d'Herisson, in 
order to obtain the Empress's birth certificate, 
wrote numerous letters to the vicar of the parish in 
which her birth was registered, and did not even 

receive an answer.' 

" In order to answer several critics of the 
Opposition," says the same writer, " a semi-offi- 


cial pamphlet was published. The birth certificates 
of the Empress and of the Duchess of Alba were 
inserted, but why was the pamphlet not signed? 
Why does one find at least eighty faults in the 
certificates published in that pamphlet when com- 
paring them with those which are deposited in 
Granada? Those who wish to prove too much 
bring forth distrust.'' 

There is one more question. Why did Napoleon 
III., a few days before his marriage, institute a 
special jurisdiction for the civil acts concerning his 
family? Such a course was not only very unusual, 
but even hardly justifiable. 

In the presence of such facts, evil tongues could 
hardly be checked from saying that Eugenie and 
her sister Pacca, Duchess of Alba, were not the 
daughters of the Count de Monti jo. It was even 
affirmed that neither were they the daughters of 
the Countess de Montijo. 

In a book entitled Le Secret de Bonaparte, Ch. 
Nauroy says : 

" It is only after long hesitation that I publish 
the following facts. 

" The two birth certificates published in the 
semi-official pamphlet called L* Imp trainee are 
authentic, but they are not those of the Empress 
and her sister the late Duchess of Alba. They are 
the birth certificates of Mme. de Montijo's two 
daughters, who died in infancy. 

" Neither the Empress nor the Duchess of Alba 
are Mine, de Montijo's daughters. 

' The Empress was twenty-six years old when 
she married, two years older than the official birth 


certificate shows ; the late Duchess of Alba was a 
little older than was stated in the official certificate. 
Maria-Manuela Kirkpatrick, Countess of Montijo, 
was not their mother. 

" Both of them were born of the body of Queen 
Cristina, consanguineal sister of the Duchesse de 
Berry and great-niece of Marie- Antoinette, before 
her marriage with Ferdinand VII. 

" Queen Cristina was married only when she 
was twenty-three years old, and it is a known fact 
that she had several lovers before her marriage." 

In order to give this allegation some weight, the 
author says that he obtained the information from 
an intimate friend of the Duke of Ossuna. 

As to Kirkpatrick, the Count de Vieil-Castel 
says, that he was an English tradesman who died a 

The Norwegian authoress, Clara Tschudi, in her 
Eugenie Empress of the French says : 

" At the beginning of this century there was 
living in Malaga a tradesman of the name of Kirk- 
patrick, a descendant of a well-known Scotch 
family, who had been obliged to flee his native land 
at the fall of the Stuarts. He was earning a liveli- 
hood as a dealer in colonial wares, and also by the 
sale of wine, which he himself dispensed to his 
customers in a room at the back of his shop. . . . 
His daughters made themselves useful by attract- 
ing customers to the house. 

*' The most ambitious as well as the most beauti- 
ful of Kirkpatrick 's daughters was Manuel a. 
Among the officers stationed in Malaga, most of 
whom regularly frequented Kirkpatrick 's wine- 

shop, was Cipriano, Count Teba, colonel of an 
artillery regiment. Count Teba had been a hand- 
some man in his youth, but he had lost an eye in 
battle. He was no longer young, nor even par- 
ticularly attractive, when Manuela Kirkpatrick 
first made his acquaintance. Regardless of his 
lack of personal attraction, she set herself to study 
his genealogy. ... It assured her that Spain's 
purest sangro azul flowed in Teba's veins. 

" It is true that Teba was a second son, but then 
his elder brother was unmarried, and Manuela felt 
that if she shared the fortunes of the younger man 
she might eventually occupy the rank she so 
ardently desired. She treated the Count with 
marked graciousness ; upon him alone she lavished 
her smiles, her ardent glances, her bewitching love- 
liness. In his simplicity he took her advances for 
devotion, and, without consulting his family, he 
married Maria Manuela. 

" They left Malaga for Granada with a little 
daughter, Francisca-Teresa, born in 1825. On 
May 5, 1826, Countess Teba was delivered of a 
second daughter, the future Empress of the 
French. In 1834 Count Teba stood by the grave 
of his childless brother. His wife, now Countess 
of Montijo, felt that her aim was attained. 

" On the 28th of July, 1834, she left Spain with 
her two daughters and her little son, Paco, who 
died soon afterwards. In 1837 the future Empress 
and her sister were placed as boarders in the Sacrc 
Coeur Convent in the rue de Varennes, Paris, 
where they were entered under the names of 
Francisa and Eugenie Palafox. The Countess of 


Montijo returned to Spain. On hearing that her 
husband was ill she hastened to him, and when 
told that the malady was serious, she sent a 
messenger for her children, who at once left Paris 
accompanied by their English teacher, Miss 
Flowers. When they reached Madrid, however, 
the father of the future Empress Eugenie was 
already dead, having breathed his last on March 
15, 1839." 

Such, as far as they are known, are the facts 
concerning Eugenie's origin. 

FROM the day she entered this world, 
Eugenie's vicissitudes began. 
Her mother was sitting in the garden 
when a terrific earthquake shook the 
houses of Granada ; the Countess de Teba was 
delivered in the open air of the future Empress of 
the French. 

When a mere child Eugenie began to travel, and 
this she continued to do during her whole life. 
This was the cause of her education being so 
defective. On the other hand, the continual 
mingling with strangers in hotels, her promiscuous 
acquaintances, developed her character : she be- 
came practical, well-informed, worldly-wise, proud 
and wilful. 

Her mother was fond of the gay world, and 
when, after the expiration of the year of mourn- 
ing, she began to receive in Madrid, where she was 
called " a woman with a head and heart," her At 
Homes were crowded with noblemen, diplomatists, 
politicians, artists and men of letters. Merimee 
and Stendhal were her frequent guests. 



Augustin Filon says of her : " She made all 
around her dance and sing. She scattered pleasures 
and created happiness on every side. She brought 
about marriages, and amused her fellow-beings till 
the last day of her life." 

The Countess of Montijo passed the summer on 
her estate of Carabanchel, once the property of 
Count Cabarrus, father of the famous Mme. 
Tallien. Very fond of music and the theatre, she 
invited many actors and actresses to her country 
house and had operas and plays performed there. 

Prospere Merimee wrote to his friend Stendhal 
in 1836 : " Mme. de Montijo is a complete and 
very beautiful type of the woman of Andalusia. 
She is an admirable friend." The same Merimee 
wrote of her to Arago : " I do not know whether 
Mme. de Montijo is still pretty ; she was so in my 
time. She was virtuous as well. It is possible that 
she has lost those two qualities." 

Other writers are less charitable, for Clara 
Tschudi speaks of her " frivolous behaviour " and 
the Count de Vieil-Castel wrote quite frankly : 
" What would my brother Louis say now, for he 
was a lover of Eugenie's mother ! ' 

Naturally, the surroundings and the mother's 
influence acted on the two young girls ; Francisca, 
or Pacca, was now sixteen, and Eugenie fifteen 
years old. They were both beautiful, but their 
beauty was quite different. Francisca was slender 
and dark, while Eugenie was fair. The Earl of 
Malmesbury wrote of her in his " Memoirs of an 
ex-minister " : 


" June 21, 1851. 

" Went to Lady Palmerston's party, where I 
saw Narvaez and the Spanish beauty, Mile. 
Monti jo. Narvaez, an ugly little fat man with 
a vile expression of countenance ; Mile. Montijo, 
very handsome, auburn hair, beautiful skin and 
figure. Her grandmother was Scotch, a Miss Kirk- 
patrick, which may account for her lovely com- 
plexion. " 

The following description of her was given by a 
contemporary who knew her well at Madrid : 

" Her slender figure is well defined by a costly 
bodice, which enhances her beauty and elegance. 
Her dainty hand is armed with a riding-whip in- 
stead of a fan, for she generally arrives at the bull- 
ring on a wild Andalusian horse, and in her belt 
she carries a sharp-pointed dagger. Her little feet 
are encased in red satin boots. Her head is 
crowned with broad golden plaits, interwoven with 
pearls and fresh flowers. Her clear brow shines 
with youth and beauty, and her gentle blue eyes 
sparkle from beneath the long lashes which almost 
conceal them. Her exquisitely-formed nose, her 
mouth, fresher than a rose-bud, the perfect oval of 
her face, the loveliness of which is only equalled by 
her graceful bearing, arouse the admiration of all. 
She is the recognised queen of beauty." 

Both sisters excited universal admiration, 
opinions differing as to which was the more beauti- 
ful. Their admirers were numerous, and the 


Countess de Montijo and her beautiful daughters 
enjoyed themselves thoroughly, parties, dinners, 
balls and all sorts of entertainments following one 
after the other. 

One evening there was a private theatrical per- 
formance in which Eugenie took the principal part 
with the Duke of Sesto in Alfred de Musset's 
Caprice. Gossiping tongues accused Eugenie of a 
marked flirtation with the gallant Duke, to which, 
it seems, her mother took exception, for she 
favoured a lineal descendant of James II. of Great 
Britain. This was Don James Stuart Fitz-James, 
eighth Duke of Berwick and fourteenth Duke of 
Alba. He was one of the highest grandees of 
Spain, and a descendant of the celebrated states- 
man and general, Ferdinand Alvarez de Toledo, 
Duke of Alba, who, under Philip II., was stadt- 
holder of the Netherlands, and who conquered 
Portugal for that monarch. 

The Duke of Alba, attracted by the beauty of 
the two sisters and encouraged by their mother, 
\vas constantly with them, but as he carefully 
avoided showing his preference for either, each con- 
sidered herself the object of his attentions. 

" Eugenie," says Clara Tschudi, " loved Alba 
with exaggerated enthusiasm . . . her passion 
blinded her, and she simply trusted him without 
weighing his behaviour." 

However, when the designing mother told the 
Duke that he must either declare his intentions or 
cease his visits, he asked for the hand of Francisca. 
This was a terrible blow to the passionate Eugenie, 
who, hidden behind a door, overheard the Duke's 


proposal and resolved to kill herself by taking 

Her life was saved ; her pride overcame her affec- 
tion, but she never forgot her cruel and unexpected 
disappointment. She regained her health slowly, 
but " her whole nervous system was shaken, and a 
slight shudder, a twitching of the eyelids which she 
never entirely lost, sudden fits of depression which 
would come on in the midst of enjoyment, hysteri- 
cal weeping when anything disturbed her, may all 
be attributed to the poison which she had taken in 
her youth." 

That affair also had a serious effect upon her 
character, for, wishing to forget the bitter dis- 
appointment of her first love, she threw herself 
into a vortex of pleasures ; she became coquettish, 
eccentric, vain, and restless. She was often to be 
seen galloping through the streets of Madrid, 
smoking a cigarette, or even a cigar. Dressed in 
fancy costumes of her own invention, she was con- 
stantly at theatres and bullfights, flirting with the 
toreadors, whom she would present with red caps 
embroidered in gold. The shy and retiring girl 
changed into a bewitching beauty, and Madrid's 
most eligible suitors raved about her. 

She took a large part in the festivities held on the 
occasion of Queen Isabella's marriage with Don 
Francisco d'Assiz, Duke of Cadiz, and that of her 
sister, the Infanta Louise, with the Due de Mont- 
pensier, on October 10, 1840. Eugenie was a great 
deal in the company of both brothers, the Prince 
de Joinville and the Due de Montpensier, with 
whom she went for long rides and danced regularly. 


The Count de Vieil-Castel says that some years 
after, Eugenie was then Empress when " the 
whole Court of Spain went to a reception given by 
the Duchesse de Montpensier, and the Countess de 
Montijo, lady of the Palace of the Queen, was also 
present, the Due de Montpensier went to her and 
said : 

" ' Good morning, Countess. Have you any 
news from your daughter, the Countess de Teba? 
J'ai retenu un charmant souvenir d'elle.' 

" The Countess de Montijo, hearing those ironic 
words, pronounced loudly, in the midst of the 
court, with an insulting intention, became embar- 
rassed, grew red, then pale, and collapsed." 

Through the influence of that " ugly little fat 
man," Narvaez, Queen Isabella appointed her one 
of her maids-of-honour, but the Queen of Spain 
though giving the very worst moral example her- 
self took exception to her disregard of court 
etiquette, and especially to her taking evening 
walks in company with one of the young pages, 
and dismissed her. 

Notwithstanding this unpleasant occurrence, 
Narvaez's influence was strong enough to prevail 
upon Isabella to appoint Eugenie's mother 
to the high post of Camarera-Mai/or. On this 
occasion Mcrimee wrote to the Countess de 
Montijo : 

" So you have already become Camar era-May or, 
and you are happy ! This is sufficient to satisfy 
me. You can make the post profitable that is 
enough ! But you may say what you like. 
Countess, you were created for a restless life ; and 


it would be ridiculous to wish Caesar a peaceful 
existence as second citizen in Rome ! ' 

Her existence was not long a peaceful one, for 
she took a fancy to a young Italian adventurer who 
decamped with her jewels. The affair became so 
widely known that Isabella dismissed the mother 
as she had the daughter, and gave her to under- 
stand that it would be better for both of them if 
they left the capital of Spain. 

Both mother and daughter were zealous 
Catholics, and looked to the Church for consolation 
in their sorrows. This was especially the case with 
Eugenie, who, tired of worldly pleasures, disgusted 
with slander and deceit, craved for a new ideal, 
which religion seemed to promise her. 

"It is recorded," says Clara Tschudi, " that 
when Eugenie entered the convent to take her 
vows, an aged nun came towards her, stood still, 
looked at her with a vacant expression, and sud- 
denly exclaimed : * My daughter ! do not seek for 
rest within our walls. You are destined to adorn a 
throne.' " 

These words seemed prophetic both to Eugenie 
and her mother, and instead of giving her life to 
the poor, the desolate and the sick, the young girl 
re-entered the world. 

The prophetic element apparently played an 
important part in Eugenie's life. When she was 
about to become Empress, Paul Ginistry wrote 
an interesting article, from which the following 
story is worthy of being re-printed. 

" One day Eugenic was then thirteen years 
old and had boyish manners she was forbidden, I 


do not know why, to ride, of which exercise she 
was very fond. During her pet she amused 
herself by sliding down the banisters and, falling, 
stunned herself. The door of the house was open, 
an old gipsy woman passed by in the street, and 
noticed the unconscious girl before the servants 
did. She came to her, and helped her to recover. 
Eugenie opened her eyes and smiled. 

" While they were thanking the kind-hearted 
woman for her help, she looked attentively at the 
child's charming face. ' The senorita,' she said in 
a prophetic manner, ' was born under the sky ; on 
the evening of a battle.' 

" The Countess de Montijo was struck by those 
words. It was true that one day, at Granada, an 
earthquake had obliged her to camp in the garden, 
and the shock which she had experienced had pre- 
cipitated her daughter's birth. She took Eugenie's 
hand and asked the woman to tell her what the 
child's future would be. The gipsy examined the 
dainty hand, and, following the lines on it with her 
brown fingers, answered gravely : ' There is a fairy- 
tale here. She will be queen.' 

When Eugenie was in Cognac, a priest named 
Bodinet also foretold her that she would become an 

There is still another prophecy, made by a gipsy, 
who told her that her happiness would bloom with 
the violets the emblem of the Bonaparte family. 

This made her so fond of violets that she was 
rarely seen without a bunch of them, either fixed 
in her hair or fastened to her waistband. When 
the summer came and violets became rare, a 


shepherd was employed to bring them from the 
heights of the Sierra Nevada. On the day of her 
fete, the house was always filled with violets, for 
all her friends, knowing her fancy, would all send 
her presents of them. 



WHEN the Countess de Montijo left 
Spain with her daughters, they led 
a very gay life in the fashionable 
watering places during the summer, 
and in the capitals during the winter. 

In 1849 they were in Germany, and when, in 
1864, Eugenie then Empress of the French was 
drinking the waters at Schwalbach, the Duke of 
Nassau reminded her of her earlier visit by showing 
her a register in which her name was inscribed. 

In 1851 they found themselves in England ; it 
was then that the Earl of Malmesbury met them 
at Lady Palmerston's At Home. During this 
visit, they were invited to the State Ball at Buck- 
ingham Palace on June 13th. 

While in Bordeaux, they were entertained by 
the Marquis de Dampierre. When they came to 
Paris, their cousin, Count de Lesseps, father of 
Ferdinand, introduced them to several Legitimist 
and Orleanist families. Despite this, and though 
Parisians are always glad to receive well-born 
foreigners, certain doors were never opened to the 




Monti jos. Mine, de la Ferronnays refers to this 
in her Memoirs in the following manner : 

" Mile, de Montijo's position in Paris is dis- 
tinctly doubtful. Her free manners, which one 
often finds in women of the South, coupled with 
a certain lack of social support, were the cause of 
her not being admitted into the best society. She 
fell into that category of foreigners who are enter- 
tained by the men, but who are avoided by the 
women of the grand monde. They were invited 
to the rustic dinners and luncheons given by the 
Vicomte de la Rochefoucauld at La Vallee-aux- 
Loups, but they were not received on the day when 
the Countess Sosthenes, nee de Polignac, did the 
honours to a more select society." 

By her beauty, her relentless coquetry and splen- 
did toilettes Eugenie created more admirers when- 
ever she appeared, and several grands seigneurs 
asked for her hand, but she kept her heart and 
senses under control, and, having an intuition that 
she would find someone still better, she preferred 
to wait. 

Certainly she provoked most of the slander which 
surrounded her name, but there is nothing to show 
that her conduct was anything more than extra- 
vagant and imprudent, and we have no cause to 
doubt her reply to Napoleon, when he mentioned 
some of the stories circulated about her : " I have 
been in love with others, but I have always remained 
Mademoiselle de Montijo." 

The author of ISImperatrice Eugdnie affirms 
that she was once in love with Prince Jerome Bona- 
parte, and that this love was the source of their 


reciprocal animosity and even hatred in after life, 
when the Spanish girl had preferred to satisfy her 
ambition by choosing the Emperor, rather than her 
heart by becoming the wife of his cousin. This 
story, however, needs to be proved. For the time 
being its authenticity rests on Irenee Mauget's 
assertion that " a friend of Prince Jerome " was 
responsible for it. 

There is not even the slightest suggestion in 
any of the contemporary Memoirs that Eugenie 
was in love with Jerome. The Count de Vieil- 
Castel, who knew more than most people about 
the Empress of the French, only says : " Prince 
Jerome is in great favour, and visits her in 
the morning ; nobody knows the reason for this 
rapprochement . ' ' 

There has been much speculation among the 
various writers on Eugenie as to the circumstances 
under which she first saw her future husband. 
Imbert de Saint-Armand says : 

" The first time that they caught sight of the 
future Emperor was after the Strasburg affair of 
1836, when, being in Paris, they happened to call 
at the Prefecture de Police to see the Prefect's 
wife, Mme. Delessert, a Spaniard by birth and a 
family friend, on which occasion they saw the 
Prince passing in the custody of several police- 

Irenee Mauget gives a similar account : " One 
day the Countess de Montijo and her daughters 
called on Mme. Delessert, the Prefect's wife, who 
lived at the Prefecture. This call coincided with 
Louis Bonaparte's arrest after the Strasburg affair. 

Mme. Delessert placed the Montijos at a window 
from which they could see the Prince escorted by 
an officer of the gendarmerie." 

Mme. Carette, who was reader to the Empress 
for several years, and, consequently, should know 
her history well, says : 

" Prior to her marriage, the Empress left Spain 
every year, and, accompanied by her mother, the 
Countess de Montijo, paid a visit of some months 
to friends either in France or England . 

" It was on the occasion of one of these trips, in 
1852, that the Emperor, then President of the 
Republic, met his future wife for the first time, at 
a ball in the Elyse*e. 

" The great beauty of the young Countess de 
Teba, and her brilliant and superior wit, made a 
deep impression on the Prince-President ; from 
that time every other feminine influence was 
eradicated from his mind, and he grew to love this 
one woman sincerely and completely." 

Clara Tschudi's version is more romantic : 

"It is reported that Eugenie met Louis 
Napoleon at a watering-place in her early youth, 
and that even then the Prince felt himself drawn 
to the Spanish Countess, who still half a child- 
came towards him with a wreath of violets in her 
hair. But it is far more certain that they met later 
on, during a residence in London. 1847-4-8. shortly 
after the mother and daughter had left the Court 
and Madrid." 

Some historians say that Louis Napoleon pro- 
posed to her about this time, and Dr. Max Ring, 



in his Die Napohoniden und die Frauen, quotes 
the following letter from Eugenie to Napoleon : 

" You wish to go to Paris. You long for the 
possession of power, to become Consul, President, 
possibly Dictator. Suppose you attain the first of 
these aims, will that satisfy you? Will it appease 
your ambition? Will you not aspire still higher? 
Undoubtedly you will. Then, how burdensome 
would a wife be to you ! If, as you wish, you be- 
come Emperor, the place for an Empress must be 
kept vacant. But if you are unfortunate in your 
plans, if events do not turn out according to your 
wishes, if France does not offer you what you ask 
from her, then come back but only then and I 
will give you your answer. Remember that my 
heart beats strong enough to make up to you for 
all sorrows, all disappointed hopes." 

Filon says that " the Prince-President's passion 
began in 1849, but in circumstances that do not 
throw the proper light on the characters and the 

Others affirm that it was at a ball given by 
Princess Mathilde that the first meeting took place. 
Then, the author of L'Impe'ratrice Eugenie says 
emphatically : 

" It was neither at the Elyse*e, nor at the Prin- 
cess's, but at a review at the camp of Satory. 
Eugenie then lived in the rue de 1'Orangerie at 
Versailles. She attended the review on horseback, 
and the Prince-President at once noticed this 
beautiful amazone, so full of proud grace. It was a 
thunderbolt. From that day, having learned about 
her family, he tried hard to meet her. Eventually 


he did so through Princess Mathilde, who said in- 
differently, speaking of her : * She is a newcomer 
. . . . an Andalusian woman.' The Countess 
de Montijo and her daughter were invited to a ball 
at the Elysee. The Prince-President entertained 
Eugenie a long time ; he was attracted by her and 
showed it ; she was amiable and a little coquettish. 
.... The idyll had begun." 

The Prince-President was captivated by 
Eugenie's charming profile, by her golden hair, 
and by her wondrously white shoulders. 

As to her feelings, the Count de Vieil-Castel 
says : 

" Mile, de Montijo is very charming and she is 
not lacking in esprit, but she will never be carried 
away either by her heart or her senses, for she is 
strong-minded. I do not believe that she has 
fallen to the conqueror. They say that Mile, de 
Montijo has a chance of becoming Empress of the 
French. Why not? We live in a century of ex- 
traordinary events ! ' 



IN 1829, while in Rome, the Earl of Malmes- 
bury wrote in his Memoirs : 
" Here for the first time I met Hortense's 
son Louis Napoleon, then just of age. Nor 
would anybody at that time have predicted his 
great and romantic career. He was a wild, harum- 
scarum youth, or what the French call un crane, 
riding at full gallop down the streets to the peril 
of the public, fencing and pistol-shooting, and 
apparently without serious thoughts of any kind, 
although even then he was possessed with the con- 
viction that he would some day rule over France. 
We became friends, but at that time he evinced no 
remarkable talent or any fixed idea but the one 

The Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy, nfc de 
Chauffailles-Gengoux, w r ho has left an interesting 
and very personal book entitled A la Cour de 
Napolton III., said of Napoleon : 

"The Emperor seemed to me small; he had 
square shoulders, and walked with the head a little 



inclined and moving his whole body slightly. His 
heavy eyelids covered his eyes. . . . His voice 
was low and dull. He often took long walks with 
a companion, to whom he would not address a word 
for hours ; he entered within himself and seemed 
pleased with that interior solitude ... he 
never disclosed the secret of his thoughts either by 
word or gesture.'' 

The enlightened and honest Count de Vieil- 
Castel characterises him thus : 

" The Prince Napoleon does not doubt his 
fortune ; he is always calm and certain of his future. 
He knows men and generally despises them. He 
dissembles and communicates his plans to no one. 
. In all he proposes to do or does, he shows 
an immoveable will and does not take into account 
any obstacles ; he would break them without 

" His suave and deep smile, his vague and veiled 
look, indicate a man who would rather talk with 
himself than with those who are round him, and 
who hears better the interior voice of his thoughts 
than the voices of those who give him advice." 

In another place : '" He is not communicative; 
he remains, so to say, days without speaking ; he 
resembles the patient divinity. Calm and deeply 
dissembling, even towards those who are most 
intimate with him, his soul, like his face, is of 
marble. He does not respect men enough to raise 
them to the dignity of confidants." 

Such is the portrait, both physical and psycho- 
logical, of Napoleon III., who was laughed at after 
the unfortunate Strasburg affair. 


On August 4, 1839, the Earl of Malmesbury 
wrote in his diary : 

" I am just returned from Lord Eglinton's 
Grand Tournament, given at his castle in Ayrshire. 
Nothing equal to it had occurred for many years. 
The principal knights who performed in the lists 
were Prince Louis Napoleon, now in exile, and his 
faithful squire Persigny, Lord Waterford and his 
brothers, Mr. Gilmour, the celebrated horseman, 
and Lord Eglinton himself, in a cuirass inlaid with 

The French press ridiculed Napoleon, but Louis 
Philippe's government were afraid of him, and as 
they did not hesitate to employ even the basest 
means to get rid of Louis Napoleon, they sent to 
England a low hireling by the name of Count Leon, 
who is mentioned in the Earl of Malmesbury 's 
Memoirs under the date of March 3, 1840 : 

" . . . A duel with Count Leon, who was 
sent over by the French police, either to get rid of 
him or to get him expelled from this country by 
inducing him to infringe the law. This villainous 
project was defeated by the interposition of our 
police, who took all the parties before a magistrate, 
and they were bound over to keep the peace for a 
year under a penalty of 3,500. Count d'Orsay 
was to have been second to the Prince." 

On August 7, 1840, the diplomatist-Earl again 
wrote about the undaunted Imperial schemer : 

" He was standing (two evenings ago) on 
the steps of Lady Blessington's house after a party, 
wrapped up in a cloak, with Persigny by him, and 
I observed to them : ' You look like two conspira- 


tors.' Upon which he answered : ' You may be 
nearer right than you think.' 

Napoleon III., so it appears, went straight from 
Lady Blessington's party to Boulogne with fifty 
followers shouting: " Vive rEmpereurl ' This 
time, again, Louis Napoleon's plot fell through, 
owing to the sudden illness of the officer of the day, 
who was to have surrendered the barracks at once 
to the conspirators. The soldiers had mostly been 
gained, and as the prestige of his name in the French 
army was universal, success was confidently 

Arrested, the future Emperor was imprisoned at 
the Chateau de Ham, where Lord Malmesbury 
visited him. Of this visit the Earl wrote in April, 
1845 : 

" I am just returned from the Castle of Ham, on 
the Somme, where I have been to see Prince Louis 
Napoleon. I went to Ham on April 20. I found 
the Prince little changed, although he had been 
imprisoned five years, and very much pleased to see 
an old friend fresh from the outer world and that 
world London. 

' He stated that a deputation had arrived from 
Ecuador offering him the Presidency of that 
Republic if Louis Philippe would release him, and 
in that case he would give the King his parole never 
to return to Europe. 

* He had therefore sent for me as a supporter 
and friend of Sir Robert Peel, at that time our 
Prime Minister, to urge Sir Robert to intercede 
with Louis Philippe to comply with his wishes, 


promising every possible guarantee for his good 

" As a precedent for English official interference 
I was to quote Earl Grey's in favour of Prince de 
Polignac's release in 1830. 

" I assured the Prince that I would do my best, 
but added that Lord Aberdeen was our Foreign 
Secretary, and that there was nothing romantic in 
his character. 

" After a stay of three hours I left the prison 
and returned to London deeply impressed with the 
calm resolution, or rather philosophy of this man. 
Very few in a miserable prison like this, isolated 
and quasi-forgotten, would have kept their intellect 
braced by constant day studies and original com- 
positions, as did Louis Napoleon during the last 
years in the fortress of Ham. 

" The day after I arrived in London I saw Sir 
Robert Peel and related my interview and message 
to him. He seemed to be greatly interested, and 
certainly not averse to applying to the French 
Government in the Prince's favour on his condi- 
tions, but said he must consult Lord Aberdeen, our 
Foreign Secretary, which, of course, was inevitable. 
That evening he wrote to me to say that Lord Aber- 
deen ' would not hear of it.' 

In May, 1846, Louis Napoleon escaped from the 
Chateau de Ham and came to London. While on 
his way to the Brunswick Hotel in Jermyn Street, 
he met Lord Malmesbury, who that night was 
dining with the Duke of Beaufort. At Hamilton 
House, Lord Malmesbury saw Louis de Noailles, 


who was then Attache of the French Embassy, and 
said to the French diplomatist : 

" Have you seen him? ' 

" Who?" 

" Louis Napoleon; he is in London. He has 
just escaped." 

Louis de Noailles dropped the lady who was on 
his arm, was out of the room in a single jump, 
and rushed to tell his Ambassador the amazing 

Louis Napoleon settled, for the time being, in 
London, where he lived in King Street, St. 
James's, and waited for the realisation of his 
" fixed notion, which nothing could eradicate, that 
he would some day govern France." 

In the riots of 1848, " among the special con- 
stables stationed round Trafalgar Square, Prince 
Napoleon was on duty," like any Englishman. 

On the news of the February Revolution and the 
flight of Louis Philippe, Louis Napoleon hastened 
to Paris. The Parisians elected him their repre- 
sentative with 84,420 votes, and after an exile of 
thirty years, he took his seat in the National 
Assembly. On December 20, 1848, he was pro- 
claimed President of the French Republic by a 
plebiscite. His name had acted like magic on the 

In 1852 he was elected President for ten years, 
and when eight million Frenchmen recorded their 
wish for the restoration of the dynasty, the Senate 
and the Legislative Assembly did homage to him 
at Saint Cloud on December 1st, of the same year. 

Under the date of December 29, 1852, Lord 


Malmesbury wrote the following very interesting 
story : 

' Lord Cowley relates a curious anecdote as to 
the origin of the numeral III. in the Emperor's 
title. The Prefect of Bourges, where he slept the 
first night of his progress, had given instructions 
that the people were to shout ' Vive Napoleon! ' 
but he wrote ' Vive Napoleon I ! I ' The people 
took the three notes of interjection as a numeral. 
The President, on hearing it, sent the Duke de 
Mortemart to the Prefect to know what the cry 
meant. When the whole thing was explained, the 
President said : ' I did not know that I had a Pre- 

In another place, Lord Malmesbury writes : 

" Heard from Lord Cowley that Louis Napoleon 
had sent for him and stated that he did not consider 
his empire hereditary retrospectively, for the 
following reasons : 

" 1st. If he did, he would have called himself 
Napoleon V., because both his elder uncle Joseph 
and his father Louis outlived the Duke of Reich- 

" 2nd. Because, if he had considered himself 
hereditary, he would not have required an election. 

" 3rd. That, if hereditary, he would have dated 
his reign from his cousin's or father's death." 

The already-mentioned Norwegian writer, Clara 
Tschudi, wrote : 

" Eugenie and her mother had left London about 
the same time as Napoleon. They spent the 
summer of 1849 at Spa ; the winter following they 
were in Brussels, and even in Madrid." 


It is difficult to verify this assertion, as also the 
story that Mile, de Monti jo offered her whole 
fortune to the Prince-President on December 2nd, 
viz., the date of the coup-d'tat through which 
Louis Napoleon effected the greatest political 
stroke of modern times. 

The idyll, begun at Versailles and the Ely see, 
was continued at Compiegne. Mme. Carette 
says : 

" Prince Louis-Napoleon knew full well that dis- 
play and luxury give a prestige necessary for the 
exercise of power. He had organised a kind of 
court, with the military element as its basis, and 
had assembled around him those who had been 
scattered by the revolutionary agitation of the past 
few years. And, as at the Elysee, where the Pre- 
sident had introduced, alongside of French elegance 
and taste, the comfort of English habits, the Palace 
of Compiegne, in the hunting season, resounded 
with new life." 

Napoleon III. went to Compiegne in state. The 
Bishop of Beauvais received him at the door of the 
church of Saint- Jacques, and said to him : " Your 
Majesty wishes to bend your head before the King 
of Kings, under whose sway are all empires." He 
answered : " Monseigneur, it is my duty to pray 
for help for the fulfilment of my mission in this 
world ; it is through the alleviation of the sorrows 
of those who suffer that we reach that purpose." 

The nephew of the petit caporal was saluted in 
the square of the Castle by a detachment of grog- 
nards of the First Empire. They were com- 
manded by Sezille, the vicar, who had served under 


Napoleon I., taken part in nine battles and been 
wounded several times. In the Castle, Napoleon 
lived in the apartment originally occupied by 
Napoleon I. 

Among other guests received by the Emperor in 
the Salon des Cartes were : Princess Mathilde, 
Prince Murat, the Due de Mouchy, the Count and 
Countess de Persigny, the Marquise de Contades, 
Marshal de Saint-Arnaud . . . and Countess 
de Montijo with her daughter. On the following 
day Sunday Napoleon attended Mass in the 
chapel of the Castle ; the Countess de Montijo and 
Eugenie were beside him. 

One reads in Louis-Napoleon et Mile, de 
Montijo, by Imbert de Saint-Amand : 

" Over the altar was a stained-glass window 
representing a woman clad in purple and holding a 
book on which one could read the word ama 
love ; the woman clasped the hand of a young 
man in red, holding a cross and looking heaven- 
ward. The future Empress looked constantly at 
the window, of which the motto Ama seemed to be 
for her an exhortation to love the sovereign who 
was to give her such a great proof of his love." 

They hunted on the Monday, and in an account 
of the meet, one reads of Eugenie : 

" The lovely Spaniard wore an elegant habit, and 
rode a thoroughbred Andalusian given to her by 
Baron Rothschild. Her dainty figure was well- 
defined by a closely-buttoned habit ; the skirt was 
long and wide, over grey breeches. With one of 
her tiny gloved hands she held the reins, while she 
used the other to urge on her excited horse with the 


help of a little riding-whip, the handle of which was 
set with pearls. She wore patent leather boots 
with high heels and spurs. She sat her horse like 
a knight, and despised the saddle ordinarily used 
by ladies. Her long plaits were arranged under a 
dainty felt hat from which waved a magnificent long 
ostrich feather fastened by a diamond clasp. Her 
sparkling eyes shone like stars, and the bewitching 
smile that played round her lips displayed the white- 
ness of her teeth." 

The correspondent of the Independence Beige 
wrote to his paper from Paris : 

" One of my friends, who spent last season in the 
Pyrenees, at Eaux-Bonnes, was for a fortnight at 
the same hotel as Mile. Eugenie de Monti jo. This 
friend was then able to study the future Empress 
dispassionately, before the glamour of Imperial 
rank surrounded her. She is a very pretty and even 
very beautiful woman, who will hold her own well. 

" Mile, de Montijo's hair is fair, with a reddish 
tinge ; her mouth is magnificently furnished ; her 
eyebrows arched, and a little raised ; she has beauti- 
ful and wide shoulders, very white, and all the most 
distinguished characteristics of a woman of high 
rank. Her education is English. She rides both 
daringly and gracefully. While she was at Eaux- 
Bonnes she was very much admired. Many of her 
characteristics show a great nobleness. Like all 
Creoles the Empress Josephine being the most 
distinguished example she possesses charm and 
spontaneity . . . one might add, the capri- 
ciousness of a child." 

On December 24, the Marquise de Contades 


subsequently Countess de Beaulaincourt wrote to 
her father, Marshal de Castellane : 

" Affairs follow their course at Compiegne. The 
Home Secretary, M. de Persigny, and his wife, a 
daughter of Prince de la Moskowa, are still in love 
with each other. At the hallali the other day, 
Mme. de Persigny began to sob ; M. de Persigny 
kissed her. It seems that they continued this exer- 
cise while riding their respective horses home ; then 
they went to their room and did not come down for 
dinner. People thought their behaviour un pen 
Uger. As to the Emperor, he continues to be 
greatly fascinated by Mile, de Montijo." 

The Countess von Hatzfeld, Marshal de Castel- 
lane 's other daughter, wife of the Prussian Ambas- 
sador at Paris, wrote to her father : " Everybody 
in the town is talking of the Emperor's marriage 
with Mile, de Montijo ; this report needs con- 
firmation. If it is true, he will at least have a 
beautiful wife, and that is something." 

The Marshal answered : " For my part, I am 
glad of it. But I hardly suspected such a future 
when Madame her mother came to me at Perpignan 
on July 29, 1834, leading her and her sister by the 
hand. The Countess de Montijo was then fleeing 
from Spain, and I gave her letters of introduction 
to our relatives in Toulouse. I find her described 
in my notes of the period as between thirty and 
thirty-five years of age, tall, still fine-looking, and 
with a remarkable mind. Mme. de Montijo was 
very kind when I saw her again in 1849, with her 
daughter Eugenie. In Mile, de Montijo the 
Emperor will have a very beautiful, very intelligent, 


and, I think, a very good wife. Mme. de Monti jo 
will have realized a fine dream." 

M. de Maupas has left us a charming story con- 
cerning Napoleon's morning walks in the forest of 
Compiegne and his courting of Eugenie. 

" The lawns were covered with abundant dew, 
and the rays of the sun gave the little drops with 
which the grass was covered the glitter and trans- 
parency of diamonds. Mile. Eugenie de Montijo, 
who is very poetic, did not cease to admire the 
capricious and magic effects of the light. She had 
particularly noticed a clover-leaf covered with drops 
of dew, which sparkled like a veritable jewel. 

" After the walk, the Emperor took aside Count 
Bacciochi, who, a few moments later, left for Paris. 
The next day he brought back with him a magnifi- 
cent jewel representing a clover, each leaf of which 
was adorned with a splendid diamond, imitating the 
drops of dew. The Count and his jeweller had very 
cleverly imitated the object of the future sovereign's 

The same evening, the Emperor organised a 
raffle for the jewel, and, of course, Dame Chance 
was so efficaciously aided that she determined 
Eugenie should become its possessor. 

When Napoleon ITT. became betrothed to Mile, 
de Montijo, writes Mme. Carette, he said to her : 
" We are on the eve of great events, and I do not 
wish you to encounter the same dangers as myself. 
Return, then, to Spain, and, as soon as our lot is 
settled, we will meet again. Fortune will smile 
on me because it will guide me to your presence." 

Mile, de Montijo replied : " Come what may, I 


will be your wife. If you are not as successful as 
you anticipate, come to my country, where we shall 
enjoy independence and perhaps be happier than 
on a throne." 

The idyll continued. 



ON January 12, 1858, the grand balls of 
the Second Empire were inaugurated 
at the new-restored Tuileries. 
" The ball opened with a quadrille 
of honour," says Imbert de Saint- Amand, " which 
Napoleon danced with the British Ambassadress, 
Lady Cowley. He danced another quadrille with 
Mile, de Montijo, whose resplendent beauty and 
extreme elegance excited general admiration. Of 
all the women present she was assuredly the most 

People did not begin talking of the Emperor's 
marriage until after the Tuileries ball. On January 
16, 1853, the Marquise de Contades wrote to her 
father, Marshal de Castellane : 

" You must hear, even so far away, some echo 
of the rumours current in Paris, where nothing is 
talked of but a marriage between the Emperor and 
Mile, de Montijo. Between ourselves, that might 
very well happen. The Emperor has conceived a 
very violent passion for her, and he seems to me to 
take the thing quite in earnest. 

37 4 


4 As for her, she conducts herself with reserve 
and dignity. From the political point of view this 
marriage seems at first glance to have incon- 
veniences ; but if it does not take place, it is more 
than probable that the Emperor will never marry. 
His repugnance to marriage up to now has been 
only too well proved, and certain old English 
chains, which are still very near, and which 
are the terror of those who love him, may restrain 

" This young girl is pretty, good and witty, and 
with this I believe she has much energy and nobility 
of soul. I have been watching her a good deal of 
late, and I have observed nothing but what is 

Notwithstanding such flattering opinions as 
these, the idea of Napoleon making Eugenie his 
consort was far from meeting with universal favour. 
In the first place, the Emperor's supporters and 
friends were anxious for him to strengthen his 
throne by an alliance with a princess of royal blood. 
Furthermore, no matter how strong democratic 
ideas may be in France, the French dislike les 
reines-parvennes. The idea of an Empress whom 
one could have elbowed at one's dressmaker's or on 
the boulevards hurt the national vanity. 

Napoleon's friends plotted for Mile, de Montijo 
to become an Empress in everything but name, 
hoping that in that manner his passion would be 
assuaged and politically disastrous consequences 

This design was frustrated by Eugenie's re- 
sistance. When the Emperor asked her petu- 


r.'W .'/;, (\.//,-,7/,v; .;/.?. .!/. /.''. M.fV/.i . A".-;. 


lantly : What is then the road to your heart? " her 
answer was : " That of the chapel, Sire." 

Mme. Carette, referring to this, defends her 
mistress in the following manner : 

" It was then stated, and has since been repeated, 
that shrewdness and skill had a large share in decid- 
ing the Emperor on marriage, and that it was the 
well-calculated discretion of the young Countess de 
Teba which triumphed over the doubts of the 
smitten sovereign. These stories were undoubtedly 
circulated by certain persons whose motives were 
solely selfish and sordid, and who had no scruples 
when it was a question of satisfying their caprices 
and ambitions." 

Another contemporary, the well-informed Count 
de Vieil-Castel, wrote : 

" Mile, de Monti jo, by whom the Emperor has 
been much fascinated for the past two years, has 
steered her craft with intelligence and the most 
amazing diplomacy imaginable. She first brought 
the Emperor to the point of himself speaking of 
matrimony first, and then said to him : ' You must 
write yourself to my mother, who, loving both of 
us as she does, and appreciating the distance 
that separates us, will probably be tempted to 

" The Emperor wrote, and the letter still 
remains in the Monti Jos' archives, as a proof that 
the offer was made by the Emperor, and that the 
mother's resistance had to be overcome before the 
marriage was allowed. Well played ! 
In the meantime, Parisian tongues gossip and 
invent all kinds of stories and calumnies." 


At a moment when the Countess de Montijo's 
shrewdness and skill had almost triumphed, she 
wTote to the Marquis de la Rochelambert, whose 
three daughters later became the Empress' maids- 
of-honour, as follows : 

' I am not sure whether I should rejoice or weep. 
How many mothers there are who envy me, and 
who, seeing my eyes filled with tears, are not able 
to understand me. Eugenie is to be Queen in your 
country of France, and I cannot help thinking that 
Queens are not very happy. The memory of 
Marie- Antoinette obsesses me, and I am asking my- 
self whether my daughter's lot will not be a similar 


There were a great many people dissatisfied with 
the news of the Emperor's betrothal. The Count 
de Vieil-Castel wrote : 

" Last night at Princess Mathilde's, where a 
numerous company was assembled, everybody was 
commenting on the news. There were those who 
approved the Emperor's move. As to the women, 
many of them were very bitter at the thought of 
being obliged to call Mile, de Montijo ' Your 
Majesty.' " 

Then in another place : 

" Many ambitious women are torn between their 
wish to be somebody at the new Court and their 
annoyance at having to do homage to an Empress 
who was their companion of yesterday. The 
Legitimists utter endless jibes." 

The Emperor's relations opposed the alliance. 
His uncle, the ex-king Jerome, did all he could to 
induce him to forget Eugenie ; Princess Mathilde 


implored him to abandon the unsuitable union. All 
joined in advising him to marry a French lady of 
noble birth. In order to divert his attention from 
the Spaniard, they suggested an alliance with the 
Princess Czartoryska the Czartoryskis being 
descendants of a ruling sovereign of Lithuania. 

Wishing to end the doubts harassing him, 
Napoleon asked an intelligent lady : * ' Which of the 
two shall I choose Mile, de Montijo or the 
Princess Czartoryska ? ' " Sire, if the choice were 
left to me," was the answer, " I would prefer the 
Cachucha to the Mazurka." 

On the evening of New Year's Day, 1852, 
Eugenie, who was among the guests, placed herself 
with Colonel de Toulongeon, on whose arm she was 
leaning, before the wife of a general. The lady 
became so wrathful at this that she expressed her 
displeasure loudly, using slighting terms in speak- 
ing of Mile, de Montijo. The latter rushed to the 
Emperor, and complained to him in a passionate 
Spanish manner. 

" I will avenge you," replied Napoleon, and the 
next day he asked the Countess de Montijo for her 
daughter's hand. She was then living at No. 12, 
Place Vendome. 

While the Court was at Compiegne, Eugenie, 
now sure of herself, because of the Emperor's pro- 
posal, preceded a grande dame who also made a dis- 
courteous remark about her. Again Eugenie was 
obliged to appeal to the Emperor. A few moments 
after, when they found themselves in the park, 
Napoleon made a wreath, put it on Eugenie's head 
and said loudly : " While waiting for the crown ! ' 


The following article, taken from the Inde- 
pendance Beige, may be looked upon as charac- 
teristic of the opinion of the French press : 

' It is not the kind of alliance which those who 
support the Emperor, his servants, and personal 
friends have wished. A diplomatic union might 
have been of some utility to the State ; a union with 
a French lady would have been agreeable to the 
people. By such marriages the Emperor would 
either have entered the family of a sovereign with 
dignity and splendour, or, as it were, by an appeal 
to the nation, he would a second time have solemnly 
ratified his connection with the people. 

" On the other hand a union with a Spanish lady 
meets with no sympathy from the nation, and can 
only be the result of personal gratification. The 
head of a great State like France, anxious to found 
a new dynasty, should entertain more serious 
thoughts and higher aims than to satisfy a whim and 
succumb to a young woman's beauty." 

The Emperor was obliged to listen to the 
reproaches of his friends and advisers, who, from 
the dynastic point of view, were right, but he 
silenced them by saying in the most determined 
manner : " Gentlemen, enough of your remon- 
strances ; this marriage I have decided upon, and 
it will be accomplished ! ' 

When the union was announced, the Count de 
Vieil-Castel wrote : 

" This marriage is making a devilish uproar. 
Yesterday there was a fall of two francs on 
Exchange. The old parties woke up to shout 
* Shocking ! ' talk of the national honour being 


compromised, and slander Mile, de Montijo in the 
most abominable manner. The Faubourg Saint- 
Germain is scandalized ; the Emperor says nothing, 
and goes his own way." 

A simple-minded young Spanish girl, having 
heard of Eugenie's betrothal, exclaimed naively : 
* I must go to Paris ; there is no future in Spain for 
a young girl like myself." " Had I resisted Bona- 
parte, I had become Empress," said a witty 

That little man, Thiers, kept repeating in his thin 
voice to everybody he met : ' ' The Emperor always 
seemed to me un homme d' esprit. To-day I see 
that he is far-seeing ; through his marriage he re- 
serves for himself a Spanish grandeeship in the 
future." Then he would add : " There is nothing 
to fear from people when they are a little tipsy, 
but they are dangerous when they are completely 

Only three persons were thoroughly pleased : the 
Emperor, Eugenie and her mother. " She has 
intellect enough for two and courage enough for 
three," observed Napoleon of his fiancee. 

At the beginning there were but very few who 
flattered Napoleon's passion for the beautiful girl, 
and in that way secured his favour. An obscure 
little poet by the name of Villain de Saint-Hilaire 
wrote a poem about the imperial wedding and pre- 
sented it to the Emperor. 

" It is the first homage," said Napoleon, '* that 
Mile, de Montijo has received. I am deeply 
touched by this, and I shall never forget it." 
Then, handing a scarf-pin to the rhymer : " Accept 


this pin ; its only value is the fact that I have had 
it for a long time." 

The sculptor Nieuwerkerke begged Napoleon 
for the favour of a visit to his studio, and while the 
ruler inspected some of his works, the artist sud- 
denly uncovered a little bust of Mile, de Montijo. 
Bonaparte was delighted, and soon afterwards 
Nieuwerkerke was appointed Director of the 

Dupin and Lamartine approved of the marriage. 
Lamartine, always ready to strike a pathetic note, 
exclaimed : " The Emperor has just realised the 
most beautiful dream possible to a man : to raise 
the woman he loves above all other women." 

Dupin was less poetical when he said : " The 
Emperor did well to marry the woman he loved, 
and not to haggle for some scrofulous German 
princess with feet as big as my own. At least when 
he embraces his wife he will do so as a pleasure, 
and not as a duty." 

In the immediate surrounding of the Emperor, 
those who favoured his union with Eugenie were : 
Count de Morny ; Lieutenant Colonel Fleury, 
orderly officer of the Emperor ; Colonel de Toulon- 
geon, another orderly ; Fould, minister of the 
Imperial Household ; then Saint- Arnaud and 
Edgar Nay. 

From among those who opposed the marriage 
the following names should be mentioned : Count 
Walewski ; Count de Persigny, Home Secretary ; 
Drouyn de Lhuys, Foreign Secretary ; Abbatuci, 
Keeper of the Seals; Fortoul, Minister of Public 
Instruction ; Bineau, Minister of Finance ; Trop- 


long, President of the Senate ; and by far the 
greater part of the administration. 

However, when it became known that nothing 
would alter Napoleon's resolve, all changed their 
attitude, and those who had been most irate became 
most adulatory. 

On January 10, the Marquise de Contades wrote 
to her father, Marshal de Castellane : 

' There has been a ball given by Her Imperial 
Highness Princess Mathilde. About three o'clock 
in the morning, thirty of us remained for supper, 
and we were very gay. Morny was there, as well 
as the Countess de Montijo and her daughter. The 
Emperor was very assiduous in his attentions to that 
beautiful person. For more than one hour they 
were engaged in an intimate conversation which 
nobody dared disturb. 

" Mile, de Montijo carries her favour with 
decency and good grace ; her mother and she hope 
that there will be a wedding, and all their diplomacy 
is directed to the achievement of that hope. People 
court Mile, de Montijo ; they recommend them- 
selves to her, and ask her to speak to the Emperor 
for them. Cabinet Ministers flatter her, and she 
is the rising sun of every fete." 

The newspapers spoke of her continually, and re- 
corded all her movements. Here are some 
examples of their complimentary attention : 

" Yesterday and to-day, the Countess de Teba, 
accompanied by the Countess de Montijo, her 
mother, visited several shops in the boulevards and 
the rue Vivienne." 

" When the future Empress was recognised, she 


was loudly cheered. Her simple and distinguished 
manner, her benevolent attitude towards some poor 
women who found themselves in her road, won for 
her all hearts." 

When the Countess de Montijo and her daughter 
appeared in their box at the Opera, nobody listened 
to the music or looked at the prima donnas ; all eyes 
turned with admiration towards the beautiful 

The English newspapers were unanimous in their 
approval of the Emperor's choice, and declared his 
example an excellent one to imitate. 

The Morning Post said : " Romance has carried 
the day against policy. . . . There is a tinge 
of independence in this which cannot fail to please 
the French nation." 

The Times had the following paragraph : " We 
shall speak of the future Empress of the French 
with all the deference due to her, for it is impossible 
to have remarked the attractions of her person, the 
distinction of her manner and the vivacity of her 
mind, without taking a more than ordinary interest 
in her extraordinary beauty." 

Napoleon beamed with joy, especially when he 
received one of Eugenie's love-letters, written in a 
beautifully clear style and full of verve. Unfor- 
tunately it is proved beyond doubt that those 
wonderful letters were dictated to her by that subtle 
litterateur, Merimee ! 

On January 20, 1853, Eugenie de Montijo wrote 
to the Queen of Spain, acquainting her with the 
extraordinary lot which Fortune had bestowed 
upon her. It is not necessary to add that in her 


message she could not conceal the satisfaction to 
her amour-propre. 

The Queen of Spain answered in the following 
manner : " I received thy letter of the 20th with 
the greatest pleasure. The strange destiny which 
Providence has given thee fills me with satisfaction. 
Thou canst count on my permission to a union 
which is glorious to thee ! ' 

In order to make the mesalliance seem less, the 
Montijos' old friend Merimee was asked to make 
researches and find all the long-forgotten titles ever 
borne by a member of the house. He fulfilled 
the task so well that the marriage contract con- 
tained almost a whole page of pompous Spanish 

On January 22, the Emperor announced his 
marriage to the Council of State, the Senate, and 
the Legislative Assembly in such peculiar terms 
that it is worth while to read this highly curious 
document in extenso. 

" Gentlemen! 

" In announcing to you my marriage, I am ful- 
filling a wish many times expressed by the nation. 
This union is not in accordance with old political 
traditions ; but it is advantageous for that very 
reason. (Sensation.) 

" Successive revolutions have isolated France 
from other European countries ; every intelligent 
government should endeavour to bring her within 
the pale of the old monarchies ; but this result will 
be better secured by an honest and upright policy 
and by a faithful fulfilment of engagements, than 
by royal alliances, which give false securities, and 


often place personal interests before those of the 
nation. (Applause.) 

" Moreover, the examples of the past have filled 
the minds of the people with superstitious beliefs ; 
they have not forgotten that in the course of the 
last seventy years foreign princesses have ascended 
the throne only to see their offspring scattered and 
exiled by war or revolution. (Great sensation.) 
One woman alone appears to have brought happi- 
ness, and to live in the memory of the nation. That 
woman, the modest and virtuous wife of General 
Bonaparte, was not of royal blood. (Applause, 
and shouts of Vive VEmpereur!) 

" It must, however, be acknowledged that the 
marriage of Napoleon I. with Marie-Louise, in 
1810, was a great event ; it was a guarantee for the 
future, and it satisfied our national pride, because 
the illustrious and ancient House of Austria, with 
whom we had for a long time waged war, sought 
an alliance with the chief elected by a new Empire. 
On the other hand, during the last reign, the amour- 
propre of the nation was hurt when the heir- 
apparent of the late King for several years sought 
in vain an alliance with a royal house, and at last 
obtained the hand of a princess who was un- 
doubtedly accomplished, but only of secondary 
rank, and of a different creed. 

" When, in the very face of Old Europe, one 
soars on the wings of a new principle to the heights 
of ancient dynasties, it is not by making ancient 
one's coat of arms and by endeavouring to become 
allied to royal families a tout prix, that one is 
accepted. It is rather by always calling to one's 


mind one's origin, by preserving one's character, 
and by boldly assuming before Europe the position 
of a parvenu* a glorious title when won by the 
free vote of a great people that one would succeed. 
(Loud applause.) 

" Thus, being obliged to lay aside the precedents 
followed until now by crowned heads, my marriage 
became a purely personal matter. There only re- 
mained the choice of the person. She who has 
become the object of my preference is of noble 
birth. She is French in heart, in education, and 
because her father shed his blood for the Empire ; 
and, being a Spaniard, she has this advantage, that 
she has no family on the members of which it would 
be necessary to lavish honours and dignities. 

" Endowed with all the great qualities of the 
soul, she will be an ornament to the throne, and, 
in the hour of danger, one of its fearless supporters. 
As a devout Catholic, she will send up to Heaven 
the same prayers as myself on behalf of the pros- 
perity of France ; and I have every hope that her 
Court will be as renowned for its virtues as was that 
of the Empress Josephine. (Prolonged applause 
and shouts of Vive rEmpcrenr! Vive rimpera- 
trice /) 

" Gentlemen, what I wish to say to France is 
this : I have preferred a woman whom I love and 
respect to one whose alliance might have brought 
advantages mingled with self-sacrifice. Although 

He wns ripht there, for according to the Al-manark de la Ttepublique Ixniis 
Napoleon born in 1808 was not the son of Louis. Kirur of Holland, hut of a 
Dutch Admiral Vertinel and of Queen Hortence. However, in compliance with 
the wish of his brother. Nnpoleon I. Kine Louis allowed the boy to be baptised 
under the name of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, paternity according to French 
law being proved par I'acte de naisgancf. 


despising the opinion of no one, I yield to my in- 
clinations, though not before consulting my reason 
and convictions. 

" Thus, by placing independence, the dictates 
of the heart and the welfare of family above 
dynastic prejudices and ambitious aspirations, I 
shall not be weaker, being more free. (Enthu- 
siastic applause.) 

" On my way to Not re-Dame I will present the 
Empress to the people and to the army ; the con- 
fidence they place in me insures their sympathy for 
her whom I have chosen. And, Gentlemen, when 
you have become acquainted with her, you will then 
be convinced that in my choice I have been inspired 
by Providence." (Long applause and loud 

After this, Eugenie was sure that her ambition 
would not be frustrated, and her mother " realised 
a fine dream," as Marshal de Castellane put it. 

However, the Emperor's speech did not please 
democratic France, and strong indignation was felt 
that Napoleon should have called himself a parvenu, 
although in doing so he spoke the truth. 

As to the Royalist party, they jeered at the men- 
tion of Josephine's virtues : " Yes, the Spaniard 
will possess all the virtues of the Creole ! It will 
be a wonderful sight ! QMJ vivra, vena! ' 



NAPOLEON was not exact, to say no 
more, when he said that he preferred a 
woman whom he loved to an alliance 
with some regal family, for it is certain 
that before he proposed to Mile, de Montijo he did 
his best to marry a princess of the blood. 

Fifteen years before his union with Eugenie, 
when Princess Mathilde was visiting Arenemberg, 
where Queen Hortense resided, and he was there 
also, there had been talk of an engagement between 
Mathilde and Louis Napoleon. The two young 
people often went for long walks by Lake Con- 
stance, and became united by a great sympathy, 
though their characters were very different. Queen 
Hortense was very fond of Mathilde, and she 
thought that her union with Louis Napoleon would 
assure her happiness. The Bonaparte family- 
council also approved of the projected match. 
However, Napoleon's adventure at Strasburg 
ended the idyll, and Mathilde married, in 1841, the 
Russian millionaire, Demidoff, who purchased an 
Italian principality and called himself Prince of San 



Donate. She separated from the half-demented 
man after one miserable year. When Napoleon 
became President of the French Republic, 
he thought for the second time of marrying 
Mathilde. The Bonapartes were in favour of the 
union, but the Catholic Church refused to annul 
the marriage with Demidoff , and the President was 
obliged to look elsewhere for a wife. 

His inquiries at St. Petersburg were unsuccess- 
ful. Neither did the Spanish and Portuguese 
Courts wish to trust one of their princesses to an 
adventurer. Count Tascher de la Pagerie con- 
ducted some negotiations in Bavaria, but also with- 
out success. 

Fleury was sent to ask for the hand of the very 
poor but wonderfully beautiful Carola-Frederika, 
daughter of Prince Wasa, the son of Gustavus IV. 
of Sweden, who was deposed and succeeded by his 
uncle, Charles XIII. The beautiful Princess did 
not find Napoleon's portrait to her taste, and 
rejected the proposed alliance with tears, though it 
was distinctly advantageous to a princess in her 

The Prince-President also asked for the hand of 
the Duchess of Hamilton, daughter of the Grand- 
Duchess Stephanie of Baden, who refused. Irenee 
Mauget says that he wished to marry the lovely Miss 
Emmy Rowles, who, by a strange coincidence, 
resided at Camden Place, Chislehurst, but the 
English girl also declined the honour ! 

Napoleon's position seemed so insecure that even 
the Jews refused to advance him any money. The 
London tailor, Poole, was more daring, for he lent 


money to Louis Napoleon while he was staying in 
London, and was munificently recompensed by 
Napoleon III. 

The Emperor's amour-propre suffered greatly at 
the humiliation of the repeated refusals, but, con- 
fident in ultimate success, he made an attempt to 
secure the hand of the Princess of Hohenzollern, 
sister of the prince who was a candidate for the 
Spanish throne. 

Lord Malmesbury wrote in his interesting 
Memoirs, under the date of December 18, 1852 : 
" Walewski came to ask the hand of the Princess 
Adelaide of Hohenlohe in marriage for the 
Emperor. I had foreseen this and told the Queen. 
Walewski said the Emperor's marriage with the 
Princess Wasa was off. ' ' 

Then one reads, under the date of December 28, 
1852 : " When I went into the room, her Majesty 
began on the subject of the proposed marriage of 
her niece. The Prince read a letter from Prince 
Hohenlohe on the subject, which amounted to this, 
that he was not sure of the settlement being satis- 
factory, and that there were objections of religion 
and morals. 

" The Queen and the Prince talked of the mar- 
riage reasonably and weighed the pros and co7?s. 
Afraid lest the Princess should be dazzled if she 
heard of the offer, I said I knew an offer would be 
made to the father. Walewski would go himself. 
The Queen alluded to the fate of all the wives of the 
rulers of France since 1789 a prophetic presenti- 
ment but did not positively object to the 



Clara Tschudi says in her book that Napoleon 
" through his friend, Lord Malmesbury, begged 
Queen Victoria to favour a union between himself 
and her cousin, Princess Mary of Cambridge ; but, 
without actively opposing the plan, the Queen and 
the Prince Consort raised objections to it." 

If one remembers that even during his poverty 
and exile, Napoleon always considered it pre- 
posterous that he should seek a wife outside the 
royal circle ; if one adds to this that immediately 
before his marriage with Eugenie he was still trying 
for a princess, one is perfectly justified in sur- 
mising that his proposal to Mile, de Montijo was 
not prompted solely by love, but a great deal by 

This supposition is strengthened by that which 
the Count de Vieil-Castel wrote : " Count Tascher 
de la Pagerie grumbled that the Emperor wished 
to dishonour his white hair, and that he was going 
to withdraw : ' To fail to keep his word, after 
having me begin the negotiations for his marriage 
with a German Princess ! It is iniquitous ! . .' 

On the other hand, if one thinks that the strength 
of Napoleon's passion was so opposed to his usual 
prudent control as to awaken the deepest surprise 
among those who knew him well, one is obliged to 
admit that one is confronted by a psychological 
problem which it would be presumptuous to claim 
to solve. 

Had Napoleon been a little more patient, he 
would have succeeded in making an alliance with a 
princess of the blood. 

Too great a stress has been put on his good- 


temper and his inclination towards reverie. Queen 
Hortense called him " the sweet stronghead." 

" That phlegmatic man who is always in a 
hurry ! " said one who knew him intimately, while 
Mine. Cornu, who was his playmate in childhood, 
said : " When he was a boy, he had accesses of 
anger such as I have not seen with other children." 

A contemporary by the name of Lenoir said of 
him: "He did not suppress his impressions; he 
stored them away. One day, after an interview at 
which Mine. Cornu was present and during which 
he was quite calm, he smashed all the furniture in 
the room, in order to assuage the wrath which he 
had until then locked up within him." 

It was by a great effort of will that he succeeded 
in assuming the mask of a phlegmatic man, through 
the medium of which he deceived the world. 




Imperial marriage was celebrated on 
January 30, 1853, with the usual regal 
pomp, and Eugenie's most ambitious 
dream was realised : she emerged from 
an adventurous twilight into the dazzling blaze of 
royal splendour. 

The quiet of the Notre-Dame de Paris was for 
a whole week disturbed by an army of would-be 
artists, who thought that they could improve on 
the simple beauty produced by the mediaeval 
craftsmen, by hiding the exquisite lines of the 
building under hangings and bunting, as is usually 
done on such occasions. 

Berlioz applied for the honour of directing the 
music during the ceremony. His request was not 
granted, and the coveted distinction fell to the lot 
of Auber of the Opera-Comique. whose orchestra 
included Adolph Adam, the brilliant composer of 
the " Christmas Song," which is now played 
annually in almost every church in France. 

It was decided that from the numerous names 



which Mile, de Montijo received at her baptism in 
Spain, that of 'Eugenie should be chosen and used 
henceforth, and that she should wear a diadem 
instead of the virginal wreath of orange-blooms. 

It was hoped that the Pope might be induced to 
come to Paris and by his presence add to the 
splendour of the ceremony, but he diplomatically 
declined the invitation. Perchance, while telling 
his secretary to write that his health prevented him 
from granting the request, he was thinking of the 
mauvais tour played on Pius VII. by Napoleon I. 

The week preceding the wedding seemed one 
long moment of delight to the future Empress, 
who was greeted on all sides with marked distinc- 
tion, while crowds bent the knee before her. She 
was the centre of attraction, but in Court circles, 
jealousy was rampant. 

The civil marriage took place on the evening of 
January 29, 1853, at the Tuileries. Eugenie wore 
a white satin dress trimmed with lace, with two 
rows of exquisite pearls round her neck and flowers 
in her hair, in the Spanish way. The Emperor 
was in general's uniform, wearing the Grand Cross 
of the Legion of Honour, and surrounded by the 
whole resplendent Court. 

At half-past eleven the next morning, Eugenie 
drove from the Elysee, which she occupied with 
her mother, to the Tuileries ; her mother was 
seated on her left linnd, and opposite her was Count 
Tascher de la Pagerie, Master of the Ceremonies. 

The future Empress wore a white velvet gown, 


with a long train, ornamented with costly lace, the 
design of which represented violets. Round her 
waist she had a belt of diamonds, and on her brow 
was the crown which Marie-Louise had worn on 
her wedding-day. 

All the church-bells of the capital pealed forth 
on the stroke of twelve, and from the Hotel des 
Invalides a salute of 101 guns thundered over the 
city as the future Empress started on her way to 

In honour of the occasion Napoleon put on the 
collar of the Legion of Honour which had belonged 
to his uncle, Napoleon I., and the collar of the 
Golden Fleece \vhich had once adorned the neck 
of Charles Quint. King Jerome wore the collar of 
the Legion of Honour given to him by his brother, 
Napoleon I., and the collar of the Golden Fleece 
which had belonged to Cortez. 

All the dresses of the ladies, we are told, were 
masterpieces of good taste, except that of Princess 
Mathilde, who, strangely enough, wore a dress very 
much like those at present in fashion. She did her 
best to introduce the mode then, but was unsuc- 

Taxile Delord, an eye-witness of the ceremony, 
says : " It was noticed that the Empress, rising at 
the singing of the Gospel, made several crosses 
with her thumb a Vespagnolc on her forehead, 
her lips and her heart." 

Mme. Carette has another story : " There is an 
old saying that pearls worn by women on their 
wedding-day are the symbols of tears to come. 


The Empress, however, did not then believe in this 
superstition, and on that day wore a magnificent 
necklace of pearls over her satin corsage. But alas ! 
the omen was in this case only too faithfully ful- 
filled, and after the war the Empress sold this 
necklace with her other jewels." 

Another omen which was also fulfilled concerned 
the Imperial crown adorning the top of the State 
carriage, which on December 2, 1804, had taken 
Napoleon I. and the Empress Josephine to their 
coronation at Notre-Dame, and \vhich a few years 
later was also used for the marriage of the great 
soldier to his second wife. 

As the coach passed through the palace gates, 
the crown became loose and fell to the ground. 
The horses were stopped and the crown was rapidly 
replaced, but an old servant under the first Empire 
said to the bystanders : " A bad sign ! The same 
accident took place with the same coach and the 
same Imperial crown, when Marie-Louise and the 
great Napoleon were on their way to the Cathedral 
to be married." 

" The little mansion of Villeneuve-l'Etang, still 
to be seen in the park of Saint-Cloud, had been pre- 
pared to receive the royal couple," Mme. Carette 
informs us. " Here, in a small circle of intimate 
friends, the Emperor and Empress passed the first 
days of their married life, happy in their love, soli- 
tude, and seclusion. 

" On the morrow of their marriage, January 81, 
the Emperor and Empress drove under the glorious 
winter's sun through the beautiful frost-covered 


woods of La Celle-Saint-Cloud and Ville d'Avray, 
on their way to Versailles. 

" The Empress expressed a wish to visit 
Trianon, and to hear the story of the happy life 
led by Marie-Antoinette before the Revolution 
had cast its cruel shadow across her path. 

" As if bound by some mysterious spell, the 
Empress has always worshipped the memory of the 
royal martyr. She ordered every object that had 
belonged to the Queen to be collected at Trianon, 
and, thanks to her care, this formed the nucleus 
of the Musee des Souvenirs, which is still in exist- 

" Knowing the Empress's taste for everything 
relating to the memory of Marie-Antoinette, a 
friend sent her from Austria a very peculiar por- 
trait. It was a full-length miniature of the 
Dauphine before her marriage, and at about the 
age of fourteen. Notwithstanding her extreme 
youth the grace and beauty of the future Queen 
were fully revealed, her arm being raised, and her 
finger pointing to her shapely neck, which, accord- 
ing to the fashion of the day, was encircled by a 
narrow red ribbon, like a fine streak of blood. The 
childlike face, the smiling and naive features, and 
the ominous blood-red line, presented to the mind 
of the Empress Eugenie a striking and tragical 

With regard to the Empress's cult of everything 
concerning Marie- Antoinette, the Count de 
Vieil-Castel wrote : 

" The Emperor and Empress yesterday visited 


the Mus6e des Souvenirs and complimented 
Nieuwerkerke and myself on its arrangement. 
The Empress asked that Mme. Elizabeth's beauti- 
ful testamental letter should be read to her, and 
was deeply touched on hearing its contents. 
Souvenirs of Louis XVI. and Marie- Antoinette 
always move her greatly. It was sad and touching 
to look at the young and beautiful Empress, at the 
beginning of her reign, listening to that sad docu- 
ment. There was a lesson in misfortune, a sob 
from the past, which it is impossible to render in a 
simple narration." 

The Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy also refers to 
Eugenie's penchant for everything connected with 
Marie- Antoinette. 

" The desire to resemble Marie- Antoinette has 
become a kind of mania with her but that which 
fascinates her in her model are Marie- Antoinette's 
faults and foibles, and she makes an effort to copy 

It was in Madrid, when the Monti jos lived in 
Angel Square, and where Merimee and Stendhal 
those two inimitable story-tellers taught her to 
love the history of France, that her young 
imagination was seized with a respectful awe to- 
wards that most charming and most unfortunate 
of Queens. 

When as a child Eugenic grew sad under the in- 
fluence of Merimee's narration, he would take her 
on his lap and say : " Cheer up, little one. When 
you grow up, you will marry a Prince Charming 
and live happily ever after." 


If the Prince she married was not as charming as 
the one represented in the fairy-tales, at least he 
was a nephew of the Great Emperor, officially.* 

See page 40. 



IN the speech in which Napoleon announced 
his will to put Mile, de Montijo on the 
Imperial throne, he said that his consort had 
no relations on whom it would be necessary 
to lavish riches and honours. 
However, she had a mother ! 
The Marquise de la Ferronnays says in her 
Memoirs : 

" On the evening of the marriage, a misfortune 
befell poor Mme. de Montijo. As her daughter 
had gone to Saint-Cloud, there were no servants 
left at the Elysee, and she considered herself very 
lucky when Mme. Gould, a kind-hearted woman, 
part Jewess and part Portuguese, asked her to dine 
with her." 

In the diary left by a detective of the Imperial 
police one reads : 

" March 8, 1853. 

" The Countess de Montijo is still living in Paris, 
and they say that her influence will be far greater 
than was expected. M. Fould was with her a great 



deal last evening. This is not at all surprising 
when one remembers her intriguing in Madrid." 

" March 24, 1853. 

" Mme. de Montijo has left, on bad terms with 
the august tenants of the Tuileries. The Journal 
d'Indre-et-Loire announces that she has passed 
through Tours, accompanied by M. Merimee. 
Everybody knows that the Parisian scandal- 
mongers have had a great deal to say about the 
relations that exist between the author of Colombo 
and the Countess de Montijo." 

" March 25, 1853. 

" It is said that the reason for the Empress's 
mother leaving Paris a few days ago was that she 
was ordered to do so by the Emperor, who had 
been informed of the scandalous conduct, both 
past and present, of his mother-in-law. 

" The Empress, it is said, is very much dissatis- 
fied with the enforced departure of her mother. 
It seems that there was a quarrel between certain 
ladies, of whom Princess Mathilde was one. ' If 
the Emperor had wished to have an Empress 
Mother, he would have found her elsewhere,' said 
the Princess recently." 

When the Countess de Montijo was about to 
leave Paris for Spain, Merimee wrote to his old 
friend : 

" It is a dreadful thing to have daughters and to 
marry them. Que voulcz-vous? The Bible says 
that the wife must leave her parents, and follow 
her husband. Now that vour duties are fulfilled 


and, in all truth, nobody could deny that you have 
married your daughters very well you must think 
of living for yourself and having a good time. Try 
to become a little egotistical." 

Apparently she did not need to follow his 
advice, for documents were found among the old 
papers at the Tuileries showing that the Countess 
de Monti jo received 600,000 francs on February 2 ; 
89,739 francs on April 9 ; and 668,421 francs on 
May 27. Total : 1,358,160 francs in three months ! 

La m&re Cabas, as the incorrigible Rochefort dis- 
respectfully called the Empress's mother, did not 
find sufficient amusement in Madrid, and returned 
to Paris, where she developed a mania for spending 
money lavishly, buying anything she had a fancy 
for, and sending the accounts to her daughter, or 
even to her son-in-law, who, being still under the 
sway of Eugenie's charm, would say nothing, and 
order his mother-in-law's bills to be settled. 

She was steadfast in her friendship for Merimee, 
for through her intriguing the author became a 
senator that is, if we accept the evidence of the 
already-mentioned detective, who says : 

" June 27. 

" Everybody attributes M. Merimee's rise to 
senatorial rank to the Countess de Montijo's influ- 
ence. The relations between those two personages 
are well-known, and are much commented on by 
evil tongues." 

The Count de Vieil-Castel refers to other mem- 
bers of the Imperial family thus : 

" The Prince Napoleon has done all he could for 


his family ; Murat received one million ; Jerome 
two millions; Mme. Camerata one million, etc." 

Napoleon kept his word, and did not lavish 
riches on his family or his wife's ! 



ALTHOUGH Napoleon III. called him- 
self a parvenu, he determined to have a 
very gorgeous court. After a short 
honeymoon stay at the charming little 
chateau of Villeneuve 1'Etang, the Imperial couple 
returned to the gloomy and uncomfortable Palace 
of the Tuileries, where both the Emperor and his 
beautiful consort set to work in earnest to form 
their Court. 

The difficulties were great, for Napoleon III., 
like his uncle, Napoleon I., wished to be sur- 
rounded by ancient names, while the old noblesse 
demurred. " Our phalanx remained faithful," 
wrote the Marquise de la Ferronnays. 

Nor was the nobility of the First Empire over- 
eager to appear at the Court of the Second Empire, 
as is shown by the following lines, found in the 
Memoirs of the Count de Vieil-Castel : "A few 
days before the formation of the Emperor's House- 
hold, Bassano said : * I have made an arrangement 
to enable Mme. de Bassano to refuse the charge of 
Grande Maitresse; I do not wish her to appear in 



the retinue of the Empress.' Aristocratic 
Bassano ! 

Finally, the difficulties were overcome, and the 
Court was formed of both men and women possess- 
ing big titles, if not long lines of ancestors. The 
Grand Mditre was Count Tascher de la Pagerie, 
while at the head of the six dames du palais was 
la dame d'honneur in the person of the Princess 
d'Essling, a daughter-in-law of Massena. The 
Duchess de Bassano, wife of the Emperor's Grand 
Chamberlain, also received the title of lady-of- 
honour. The six dames du palais were chosen from 
among the Empress's personal friends. They 
were : 

The Marchioness de Los Marismas, afterwards 
the Viscountess Aguado, whose exquisite beauty 
was enhanced by her personal grace and charm. 
She was the mother of the charming and accom- 
plished Duchesse de Montmorency ; 

The Countess de Montebello, nee de Villeneuve- 
Bargemont, of whom the Empress was particularly 
fond ; 

The Countess de Lazay Marnesia ; 

The Baronne de Malaret, a very handsome 
woman, of rare elegance ; 

The Baronne de Pierres, who was the best horse- 
woman in France, and yet the most timid of 
persons ; 

The Marquise de Latour-Maubourg, a daughter 
of the Due de Trevise ; her husband was a striking 
figure at Court, and reminded one of those old 
knights from whom he was descended. 

" Mine, de Maubourg," says Mme. Carette, 


" who was both good and charming, adored her 
husband, the two of them often being teased about 
their perpetual honeymoon. One day she was 
asked : ' What would you do if you were informed 
that your husband was deceiving you ? ' * I should 
be so astonished, that I should die of surprise,' was 
her reply." 

There is a large painting by Winterhalter repre- 
senting the Empress surrounded by all her ladies, 
each one more beautiful than the other. This 
picture is now at Fontainebleau. 

None of Eugenie's portraits do her entire jus- 
tice ; the contemporary painters could express the 
beautiful lines, but not one of them was talented 
enough to catch her peculiar charm and graceful- 
ness. It is a pity that there was not a great man 
to portray those charming women, for we could 
then have been spared the fadeurs of Winter- 
halter's art. 

The same applies to all the contemporary busts 
and statues. The Empress was aware of this, and 
she was not eager to pose for them. However, 
Itasse has left a pretty and well-modelled medallion 
of her. 

The great Carpeaux, who was invited to Com- 
piegne, was very anxious to model the Empress. 
During the evenings he would make small sketches 
under cover of his hat, trying to fix Eugenie's 
attitudes. Notwithstanding Carpeaux 's great 
talent, the Empress hesitated to pose for him. In 
order to persuade her to do so, he resolved to begin 
by modelling a head of Mile. Bouvet, who was re- 
puted to bear a great likeness to the Empress. The 


posing bored Mile. Bouvet, and she begged 
Carpeaux to wait until the next winter. He 
granted her request, but in the meanwhile he 
executed a medallion of her. Mile. Bouvet showed 
it to the Empress. 

"It is charming," said the Empress, " but 
there is something too accentuated in the line of 
the chin. This must be softened." She touched 
the medallion, the inexperienced fingers pressed 
too hard on the clay ; the Empress tried to smooth 
out the damage, and the medallion was spoiled. 
She asked Mile. Bouvet to return it to the sculptor, 
without telling him the name of the perpetrator of 
this piece of involuntary vandalism. Mile. Bouvet 
told the artist that the medallion had fallen from 
her hands. 

Carpeaux nevertheless did not execute the 
Empress's bust, but the following year he modelled 
that lovely group which represents the Prince 
Imperial leaning on " Negro," the fine brown 
setter presented to Napoleon III. by Baron Zorn 
von Bulach. 

The number of the ladies of the Palace was after- 
wards increased to twelve, and to make up this 
number the Empress chose the following : 

Mme. de Sancy de Parabere, a very witty lady 
of charming and graceful appearance and of an 
upright character ; 

The high-spirited Countess de la Bedoyere, nee 
de Laroche-Lambert, who had great musical 
talent ; 

The Countess de Poexe, sister of the Countess 
de la Bedoyere ; 


The unmarried Countess de Rayneval, who posed 
as the Muse erovvning Cherubini, in the painting 
by Ingres ; 

The Countess de Lourmel, who was very short 
in stature, and by no means handsome ; 

The Baronne de Viry-Cohendier, who came of a 
very old Savoyard family, and was a woman with 
an agreeable figure and very pretty brown eyes. 

The etiquette was very strict at court, for such 
was the wish of the Empereur-parvenu. 

The Marquise de la Ferronnays states that : 

" The new Sovereign was bored in the midst of 
all this splendour. She never loved the Emperor, 
and her heart remained faithful to the Marquess 
d'Alcanisses, her former fiance. The Marchioness 
de Bedmar, the Empress' Spanish friend, told me 
that she said to her on the day before the wedding, 
4 Were Alcanisses to claim me now, I would go 
with him.' But Alcanisses did not come; a few 
years later, as the Duke of Sesto, he married the 
widow of M. de Morny." 

Shortly after she had taken her seat on the throne 
which she had so ardently desired, Mile, de Montijo 
became disenchanted, and one day she exclaimed 
bitterly, " Is this all?" 

In the diary left by the detective, to whom 
reference has already been made, appears the 
following : 

" March 24, 1853. 

" People maliciously pity the sadness of the 
Empress. She is apparently living in a state of 
constraint most irksome to her after the freedom to 


which she was accustomed before her unexpected 
elevation to a throne." 

" April 5. 

" Rumour continues to represent the Empress 
as being very bored. She cannot forget the ex- 
treme freedom which she enjoyed before her 

Then we have the authority of the Count de 
Vieil-Castel, who was familiar with the life at the 
Tuileries, and who wrote : " Nothing could be 
more monotonous than Her Majesty's life ; she 
hardly goes out, she does not do any work proper 
for a lady, and she reads but very little." 

It would appear that the Court of Napoleon 
III., notwithstanding its apparent brilliancy, was 
very vulgar. The Count de Vieil-Castel says : 

" The Court is very busy about etiquette, though 
nobody there knows what etiquette is c'est un 
tohu-bohu impayable. The new nobles stand 
before mirrors in order to bow to themselves and 
call themselves * my lord.' Ridicule is becoming 
to all these lordlings." 

Then, in another place : 

" Unfortunately the Empress is surrounded by 
old gossips and worthless men ; it is unfortunate 
also that the Emperor's Court is not composed of 
better men. When one knows what a Court really 
should be like, one withdraws sick with disgust. 
All those who are not stupid are base, and all those 
who are base are honoured. 

" All the pretty women court Bacciochi in 
order to win the Emperor's favour. To do so leads 


to everything. Look at Walewski ; his wife is 
worth her weight in gold to him. Then La 
Bedoyere, the dirtiest, fattest and most stupid of 
men; he married, and soon afterwards became a 
Knight of the Legion of Honour and a Senator. 
Mocquard, former aide-maquereau of the Emperor, 
the man who fostered Miss Howard, is a sharper, 
an egotist and a clever thief. Walsh, the chamber- 
lain, is a card-sharper and formerly lived on Mme. 
de Coislin. All these people disgrace the 

If the grande noblesse avoided the Tuileries, the 
Diplomatic Corps, par contre, was never so brilliant 
as under the Second Empire. 

Among the foreign diplomatists, a conspicuous 
place in regard to extravagance was held by; 
Vleti Pasha, uncle of Princess Serge Ouroussoff, 
who was a daughter of Giurdy Zede Hilmy Pasha. 
Vleti Pasha was sent to Paris as Turkish Ambassa- 
dor, and spent an enormous fortune, made by his 
father when Viceroy of Crete, in competing with 
Napoleon III. in the luxurious display of 
equipages and lavish entertainments. 

The Turkish Ambassadors always aroused a great 
amount of curiosity in Paris, and the courtiers 
watched with malicious smiles for possible gaffes 
by those men from a country so different in customs 
and manners from theirs. 

Djemyl Pasha, dining at the Court for the first 
time, was placed on the right of the Empress. At 
a certain moment he said to her, without any 
reason whatever : " There is in to-day's paper a 
very ludicrous letter concerning Algeria." At the 


time, much comment had been aroused by 
Napoleon's open letter to Mac-Mahon, then 
Governor of that province. 

The guests began to smile ; the Empress 
thought that the Turk had made a mistake, and 
asked him : " Do you know the author of that 
letter? " " No, but I know that he is an idiot." 
The Emperor began to laugh, everybody tried to 
appear embarrassed ; the Empress, wishing to stop 
further rude remarks, said, " It was the Emperor 
who wrote that letter." ** Not at all," answered 
the Ambassador, smiling intelligently. " It was a 
priest who wishes to convert Islam." 

The Empress had considerable influence over 
that heterogeneous world of diplomatists. 

" Helped by a remarkable quality of assimila- 
tion," says Irenee Mauget, " the Empress soon 
became familiar with Imperial etiquette. She re- 
assumed her haughty and authoritative character. 
It was obvious then that she was not endowed with 
the esprit de suite. She, who at first grumbled 
most at the exigencies of etiquette and even rebelled 
against the Emperor, who insisted that she should 
observe it, now defended that same etiquette and 
severely reprimanded those who did not observe it. 

" At that brilliant but hastily formed Court 
there were shocks, awkward acts and collisions. It 
lacked that royalist society of which the Empress 
was madly fond. She did everything possible to 
attract it to the Tuileries, but failed. She half con- 
soled herself by giving fetes in which she dazzled. 
Never before had a sovereign attended all the 
Parisian theatres so much." 


The first time the Empress appeared at a ball at 
the Tuileries she produced a sensation; she was 
dazzling in her beauty and jewels ; there was not a 
woman there who did not envy her lot. A daring 
decolletage showed a splendid throat and magnifi- 
cent shoulders. 

The Empress soon conquered the populace, and 
was heartily cheered whenever she appeared in 
public. Everything Spanish was a la mode, and 
one journalist wrote : " We shall soon have bull- 
fights. Spain is the rage, and more or less authen- 
tic Castillians are as numerous as ants on the 
macadam roads of Paris." 

The newspapers of the time are full of para- 
graphs in which every movement, every gesture, 
every word of the Empress are recorded, her 
toilettes and equipages minutely described. Here 
are some examples : 

" January 1, 1854. 

*' The ball announced at H.I.H. the Princess 
Mathilde's took place last night. The fete was 
exquisitely tasteful and luxurious. The Empress 
wore a blue toilette." 

" January 2. 

" Great fete at the Tuileries, given by the 
sovereigns. M. de Bassano is at the foot of the 
throne, to the left of the Empress. At his side are 
three chamberlains. The nearest of them asks the 
name of the person about to be presented ; the 
name is repeated by three pairs of lips, and it is 
said to Bassano, who, in his turn, repeats it to 
Their Majesties. One bows twice and then with- 


" When the Empress went for a drive, her 
equipage was the most splendid that could be seen 
in the world," says George Cox in his interesting 
44 Horse Tales." '* General Fleury, who was 
Master of the Horse to the Emperor, was a great 
connoisseur, and always purchased the very best 
animals that money could procure. It was always 
his custom to give at least six weeks notice of an 
intended visit to England, in order that carefully- 
selected and suitable horses should be ready for his 

Fetes followed one after the other, and the 
sovereigns seemed to be happy. But all is not gold 
that glitters, runs the wise saying. Napoleon III., 
although he always loved Eugenie, was very fickle, 
and as she was not a Catherine of Braganza, willing 
to tolerate the presence of a Lady Castlemaine 
beside her, inde ira. 



NAPOLEON'S calf-love for an Italian 
lady of rank took place when he was 
a mere stripling. But when, a la 
Trovatore, he cast himself pleadingly 
at her feet, she laughed so heartily that he re- 
covered from his amorous intoxication. 

His first mistress was a Parisienne, by the name 
of Eleonore-Marie Brault, a singer, married to 
Archer Gordon, a Colonel of the Florentine 
Legion in the service of Isabella II. of Spain. In 
connection with the preparations for the Strasburg 
attempt of 1836 she proved herself one of the most 
skilful and devoted of the future Emperor's allies. 
He had one daughter by her ; she married and lived 
in England. Eleonore-Marie Brault died in 1849. 
Count Fleury says in his Memoirs that when 
Napoleon was in England, Count d'Orsay, the 
famous dandy, made him acquainted with Miss 
Howard, and he was immediately fascinated by her 
great beauty. According to those who knew her 
in London, she had then an exquisite figure, at 
once stately and graceful, with features such as only 



one of the great Greek sculptors could have 
chiselled. Subsequently she became extremely 
stout, but even then her head retained a great deal 
of its former beauty. 

Her exact origin is not known. In the registers 
of the parish of La Celle-Saint-Cloud, she is 
described as Elizabeth Anna Haryett, called Miss 
Howard, Countess de Beauregard, born in Eng- 
land in 1823. This must be wrong, for it would 
make her only seventeen years old at the time of 
the Boulogne affair. Her grandson was registered 
as Richard Marty n Haryett, whence one may infer 
that Haryett was a surname. 

Count Fleury says that at the time when 
Napoleon made her acquaintance in London, she 
was living there under the protection of Major 
Mountjoy Martyn, of the 2nd Life Guards. 

It is extremely doubtful whether Miss Howard 
financed the Boulogne attempt in August, 1840, 
as is also the well-known story about her giving 
Louis-Napoleon her diamonds. However, it is 
true that she advanced him money on a mortgage 
t on the estate of Civita Nuova, which he had in- 
herited from his father. 

In 1848 Miss Howard followed Napoleon to 
Paris, where she lived at the Hotel Meurice, then 
the English hotel par excellence. Thence she went 
to occupy a house in the rue du Cirque, close to the 
Elysee. Napoleon used to leave the palace through 
a small door opening on to the rue de Cirque, cross 
the road, open another door and find himself in 
Miss Howard's apartment, where he often met 


people of consequence, including that great 
{esthete, the Marquess of Hertford. 

The detective of the Imperial Police says in his 
diary : " There is a great deal of talk about a 
demoiselle called Alexandre, who is, for the 
moment, the Emperor's mistress. In the mean- 
while, the former affection for Miss Howard has 
changed into friendship, and the calls at her house 
in the Champs-Elysees are very frequent." 

The Opposition took advantage of his liaison 
with Miss Howard to attack Napoleon. Even the 
Bonaparteists had something to say on the matter, 
and one of them wrote : " The most indulgent 
public cannot but be afflicted by the sight of the 
Prince-President's mistress, Miss Howard, sitting 
in his box and covered with diamonds." 

Napoleon, defending himself from those attacks, 
wrote a letter in which he said : " I own that I am 
guilty of seeking in illegal bonds the affection 
which my heart requires. As, however, my 
position has hitherto prevented me from marrying, 
and as, amid all the cares of government, I possess, 
alas ! in my native country, from which I was so 
long absent, neither intimate friends, nor ties of 
childhood, nor relatives to give me the joys of 
family life, I may well be forgiven, I think, for an 
affection which harms nobody, and which I do not 
seek to make conspicuous." 

Miss Howard, who aspired to the role of La 
Pompadour, thought that Napoleon would marry 
her, and when she learned about his projected 
union with Eugenie, she was furious and threatened 
to make a scandal. 


Again, under the date of September 21, one 
finds in the diary of the detective : 

" Miss Howard has very expensive caprices, 
and, very recently, it was necessary to give her 
150,000 francs, which sum was necessary accord- 
ing to M. Mocquard to keep her quiet." 

Her wrath was assuaged by the counter-threat 
of imprisonment. She was obliged to keep quiet, 
which she did whole-heartedly when her former 
lover purchased for her the Chateau de Beauregard 
at La Celle-Saint-Cloud, for which he paid 
5,000,000 francs, and made her a Countess. 

The liaison lasted from 1846 to 1853. In 1854, 
she married an Englishman named Clarence 

During his imprisonment at the Chateau de 

My publisher, Mr. John Lane, has furnished me with the following facts 
concerning Miss Howard. 

Elizabeth Ann Haryett, better known as Miss Howard, was the daughter of 
Joseph Harryett, a waiter, who lived at No. 22 Hanover Crescent, Brighton, 
and grand-daughter of the Harryett who, with one Gibburd. kept the old 
Castle Hotel, Brighton. In her youth she was employed in a livery stable in 
the capacity of riding-mistress, and in this way she came into contact with 
those well-known people through whom she achieved fame. She became suc- 
cessively the mistress of a steeplechase rider, of Major Mountjoy Martyn, A. 
W. Kinglake. and Louis Napoleon, whom she met at a ball given by Lady 
Blessington. Kinglake and Louis Napoleon quarrelled over her: hence, it is 
said, the merciless character of Chapter XIV. of his " Invasion of the Crimea." 
Miss Howard not only financed the Prince in 1848 before his election to the 
Presidency, but for some years after, when she lived in Paris. She frequently 
travelled with him and was often seen at his side on public occasions. When 
in 1853 he married Eugenie, she received the farewell gifts of 230.000, the 
Beauregard Estate, near Versailles, and the title of Countess de Beauregard. 
In 1854 she married Mr. Clarence Trelawney, whose father, Mr. Brereton Tre- 
lawney, came of an old Cornish family. At the time of their marriage, her 
husband was an officer in the Austrian army. Some years later they were 
divorced by a decree of the French Courts, and Trelawney married the daughter 
of the British Consul at Munich. In 1861 he shot himself, leaving his widow 
and five daughters in needy circumstances. Miss Howard had one son, Count 
de Bechevet. who did not enjoy a good reputation. On the day of his eoming- 
of-age, at a f5te at Beauregard, he asked his mother, in front of all the guests: 
" Maintenant qite je tvit majfur. Madame, peut-ftre dnianeriez-rous me dire le 
nom de mon ptret " In reply, she slapped his face. She died at Beaurt-gard, 
aged forty-one. Before her death she abjured the Protestant religion, and was 
received into the Roman Church. She was buried in Chesney cemetery, the 
nearest village to Beauregard. She had always been very charitable, allowing 
her parents 840 per annum, besides giving larire sums to the poor, of whom 
a rreat number followed her coffin. Her tombstone liears the inscription: 
" Elizabeth Ann Harryet. dite Miss Howard. ne'e en Angleterre 1823." Her son, 
Count de Bechevet, died leaving one son nnd two daughters, whose disputes 
over his will were not finally settled by the Courts until 1808. 


Ham, Louis-Napoleon contrived to earry on an 
intrigue with Alexandrinc-Eleonore Vergeot, who 
washed his linen. She became the mother of two 
sons by the Prince : the elder became Count d'Orx 
and the younger Count de Labenne. 

The Emperor was very volatile, and the Mar- 
quise de Taisey-Chatenoy says : " Any inter- 
locutor was immediately left if a pretty woman 
passed near His Majesty. All those who knew this 
weakness of the sovereign and there were very 
few who did not used the most daring means to 
oblige him to come near. It was very amusing to 
watch the evolutions made by the great coquettes. 
One evening, Mesdames de Neuvied and de Saint- 
Brieux changed their places more than ten times, 
without any reason, or pretext, crossing the draw- 
ing-room's length and width, en biais, in order to 
pass before the Emperor and receive a compliment 
from him." 

Prospere Merimee wrote to Pani///i : " He has 
the fault of being fonder of petticoats than is 
proper for a young man of his age." 

Napoleon was very much sought after by women, 
and he once said : " Usually, it is man who attacks : 
as for me, I defend myself, and I often capitulate." 

The Count de Vieil-Castel says that he heard the 
following story from Princess Mathilda : 

" At a ball at the Tuilrrics I noticed that he was 
very preoccupied, and I asked him the reason. ' I 
have a bad headache,' he replied. * Moreover, I 
am persecuted by three women. T have the blonde 
on the ground floor, of whom I try my best to get 
rid. (This wns Mmc. dc In Bcdovcre). Then I 


have the lady on the first floor (the Countess do 
Castiglione), who is very beautiful, but bores me 
to death, and there still remains the blonde of the 
second floor (Countess Walewska), who follows me 

" ' But the Empress? ' I was faithful to 

her during the first six months of our union, but I 
need little distractions . . . and I always re- 
turn to her with pleasure.' 

There is another story which one finds in one of 
the six volumes left by the same author, equally 
credited to Princess Mathilde : 

" I was sitting with Mine. Hamelin opposite the 
door that separated the two apartments. The 
Emperor was on one side alone with Marianne 
(Countess Walewska). The Empress, Walewski 
and other people were in another apartment. The 
door opened from time to time and we could see 
Marianne sitting on my darling cousin's knee." 

Then the Countess de Castiglione appeared at 
court. Mme. Carette says of her : " Madame de 
Castiglione was an accomplished lady, and pos- 
sessed of a beauty which did not seem to belong to 
our time. But notwithstanding the admirable per- 
fection and even the gracefulness of her person, 
scarcely credible though this may seem, she lacked 
charm. Her beautiful face recalled to mind those 
divinities whom the ancients sought to appease by 
sacrifices. You can form some idea of this extra- 
ordinary person by imagining a most beautiful 
statue come to life." 

The portrait drawn by the pen of the Count de 
Vieil-Castel is more livclv : " Yesterday I dined at 


Princess Mathilde's with the Countess de Cas- 
tiglione. It is impossible to behold a more seduc- 
tive creature, more perfectly beautiful : beautiful 
eyes, fine nose, little mouth, admirable hair, ravish- 
ing shoulders and arms, and hands of an irre- 
proachable line. The Countess's conversation is 
animated and light." 

The Countess de Castiglione was a daughter of 
the Marquis Oldoini of Florence, and through 
Countess Walewska, also a Florentine lady, 
obtained an invitation to a ball at the Tuileries. 
She was separated from her husband Count 
Francesco Verasis di Castiglione who married 
against his will the former mistress of King Victor 
Emmanuel. Her Christian name was Virginia. 

After her arrival in Paris, Cavour wrote to the 
Chevalier Cibrario : "I advise you that I have 
enrolled into the ranks of diplomacy the very 
beautiful countess, enjoining her to be coquettish 
and, if need be, to seduce." 

The Emperor was coquetted with and fell, and 
the Countess de Castiglione became the rival of the 
Empress at the Court of the Second Empire, 
where she often was " more than the Empress." 
The Count de Vieil-Castel wrote : 

" Last night (February 17, 1857) there was a 
fancy-dress ball at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
The Countess de Castiglione, who, they say, is on 
the most intimate terms with the Emperor, had 
the most fantastic and daring costume imaginable. 
Half Louis XTV., half modern, it won her the title 
of Dame dcs ronm, because of the numerous hearts 
embroidered on the gown. Wise people mur- 


mured, ' There is not an Emperor, but the 
Emperor and La Castiglione his prophet.' More 
than one woman let loose her jealousy ; impartial 
men thought, but did not say, ' I would like to be 
the Emperor.' 

" As to the Countess, she carried the weight of 
her beauty insolently. The proud Countess does 
not wear corsets ; she would willingly be a model to 
a Phidias, if there were one, and she would pose 
clad only in her beauty. La Castiglione is a 
courtesan like Aspasia ; she is proud of her beauty 
and she veils it only as much as is necessary to be 
admitted into a drawing-room." 

While Vieil-Castel christens her Aspasia, Fleury 
calls her a female Narcissus, always in adoration 
before her own beaut} 7 ambitious without grace 
and haughty without reason. 

Her reign was of a short duration ; it lasted only 
about one year, during which time she resided at 
53 rue Montaigne. She tried hard to recover her 
influence and if she did not succeed, at least she 
was not broken-hearted, and preserved her haughty 
manner, as is shown by the following story : 

" In 1860, Prince Jerome gave a ball in honour 
of the Empress. Towards two o'clock, the 
Sovereigns were about to retire when, coming up 
the stairs, the Countess dc Castiglione found her- 
self passing them. ' You arrive late, Madame la 
Comtesse,' said the Emperor politely. * It is you, 
Sire, that are leaving too early/ And she entered 
the ball-room, with that air of crushing disdain in 
which she envelopes the whole of humankind." 

The Marquess of Hertford apparently succeeded 


the Emperor, for the Count de Vieil-Castel wrote : 
" Prince Napoleon affirmed to his sister that Lord 
Hertford has given one million to the Countess de 
Castiglione. He said that this was told him by 
Hertford himself." 

Although there is no doubt that the Countess de 
Castiglione was extraordinarily beautiful, her 
beauty was challenged in 1857 at Compiegne, 
where the guests also included the Duchess of 
Manchester, afterwards Duchess of Devonshire, by 
whose radiant charms she was eclipsed. The Mar- 
quise de Contades wrote to Marshal de Castellane : 
" The Duchess of Manchester is as beautiful as 
daylight ; she quite surpasses Mme. de Castiglione ; 
she has a profile like an antique cameo, and it is a 
delight to look at her." 

The Countess de Castiglione made many a brave 
attempt to re-conquer her empire but all in vain. 
Often she set at defiance the Empress, and she said 
a long time afterwards : " My mother was stupid 
in chaining me to Castiglione. Had she brought 
me to France, no Spanish woman would have 
reigned there. Nor would I have made the Mexi- 
can war, nor been the cause of the disaster at 

The last years of her life she spent in a little flat 
in the Place Vendome in Paris, where she lived 
with the shutters of her windows continually closed ; 
there were no mirrors in her abode, for she did not 
wish to see the ravages that merciless time had in- 
flicted on her great beauty. 

Had the Italian Ambassador in Paris not been 
prompt in executing the orders received from his 



superiors in Rome, and not burnt all the papers 
left in the rooms of the great beauty, some curious 
State secrets would have been revealed. 



COUNT WALEWSKI was the illegiti- 
mate son of Napoleon I. and Marie 
Walewska, a Polish lady of noble birth. 
Her love episode with the Great 
Napoleon has been represented in a masterly 
manner by the Polish author Waclaw Gasiorowski, 
and when it was translated into English, the critics 
were unanimous in qualifying it as the best romance 
on Napoleon's life. 

Walewski's first wife was a daughter of Lord 
Sandwich, his second wife was a Florentine, " a 
beautiful woman," says Lord Malmesbury, " who 
did the honours of their embassy to perfection," 
when Walewski was French Ambassador at the 
Court of St. James's. Her maiden name was 

The Count de Vieil-Castel speaks of her intrigues 
with the Emperor thus : 

'* Mme. Walewska reigns now, but she is afraid 
of the return of Mme. de Castiglione. She hides 
her favours but very little . . . some time ago 
she went to see the Empress and said to her with 



the most superb impudence : ' I am obliged to ask 
Your Majesty not to invite me any more to your 
soirees particulieres, for they accuse me of being 
the Emperor's mistress, and I don't wish this 
calumny to lower me in Your Majesty's eyes ; I 
must not come near Your Majesty until those 
villainous slanders have been stopped.' The 
Empress, much moved, kissed her, and their 
intimacy became still closer. 

" Mme. Walewska and the Emperor show them- 
selves together a great deal ; last evening their con- 
versation caused comment. The Emperor re- 
mained till six o'clock, and danced the cotillion with 
the Countess, which did not prevent him from flirt- 
ing with Mme. Greville. Princess Marie of Baden 
overheard Countess Walewska making a scene on 
account of Mme. Greville, and she addressed him 
as tu! " 

Then again : " Princess Mathilde said how much 
she regretted the publicity surrounding the 
Emperor's gift to Walewska, of an estate in the 
departement of the Landes, bringing in 100,000 
francs a year. This gift renders Walewski impos- 
sible he has discredited himself. Marianne is a 
true little rouee, who, friendly with the Emperor, 
succeeded in becoming very friendly with the 
Empress ; but she is afraid of her husband. 
* Walewski 's feigned ignorance is a comedy,' said 
Chamont-Quitry to me. ' I have seen him, in the 
park of Villeneuve, turn his head and proceed in an 
opposite direction when he perceived in a side-path 
the Emperor with his wife.' 

Still from Vieil-Castel's Memoirs : " Walewski 


is much shaken ; his wife's credit is annihilated ; 
she has passed to the rank of reformed sultanas. 
Six weeks ago at Pierrefonds, she greatly admired 
a lizard gargoyle in the restored part of the castle. 
' It is very well executed,' she said, ' but such a 
water-pipe must be very expensive.' ' Less ex- 
pensive than yours, Madam,' answered Marshal 
Vaillant. One of those present at this skirmish re- 
proved the Marshal for his vivacity. ' Do you not 
know, then,' answered the rough Minister of the 
Household, ' that this tramage has cost us four 
million francs ! ' 

The Marquise de la Ferronnays has left in her 
Memoirs a curious story concerning Marquerite 
Bellanger, whom Napoleon met at Vichy in 1863, 
and to whom he gave a house at Passy No. 27 rue 
des Vignes. 

" I learned a great many details of the intimate 
life of the court through a great Spanish lady and 
friend of the Empress, the Marchioness de 
Bellemar. The Emperor lived continually in a 
manner detrimental to his health. Very often he 
would leave the Tuileries at night, accompanied 
only by Lebel, La Varenne, or Bacciochi. One 
night he had a fit at Marguerite Bellanger's house. 
The detectives whose duty was to watch over his 
security became bewildered, and summoned the 
Empress, who went to take him away from the 
house of a horizontal e who once swept the streets 
of Angers. Violent scenes in the Imperial menage 
followed that scandalous adventure, and they went 
so far that the Emperor, tired of constant re- 
proaches, talked so seriously of divorce that 


Fleury's influence was necessary to convince him 
that a great wrong would be done to the dynasty 
if the scandal became known." 

Another grande dame of the Court has left the 
following story : 

" The Count de Vieil-Castel desired the Cross 
of the Legion of Honour to be bestowed upon him. 
The Empress promised it to him, but the Emperor 
hesitated, for he was not very fond of that ever- 
criticizing nobleman. Finally Nieuwerkerke, 
superintendent of the Beaux-Arts, came to tell him 
that his name had been placed on the list for 
August 5th. ' The Cross for me ! What the devil 
shall I do with it? ' ' Then let us not talk about 
it. I thought it would please you, but we w r ill find 
somebody else for it.' * Well,' rejoined Vieil- 
Castel, seeing that he had gone too far, ' I under- 
stand that the Emperor wishes from time to time 
to give the Cross to someone who deserves it. . . .' 
'Oh, no! Let us drop the matter,' answered 
Nieuwerkerke, and Vieil-Castel, was not decorated. 

" The Count thereupon began to think out a 
plan of vengeance. He was a fine art connoisseur, 
and Nieuwerkerke often sought his enlightened 
advice. Vieil-Castel suggested to him that he 
should purchase for the Empress four busts repre- 
senting the seasons, in his opinion a marvellous 
work, which a sculptor friend of his was obliged to 
sell. Nieuwerkerke, pleased at the suggestion, 
spoke to the Empress as if it came from him ; she 
agreed, the busts were purchased and taken to the 
Tuileries. They were placed in the pink drawing- 
room, and the Empress came with the Emperor to 


inspect them. They both approached the busts 
. . . looked . . . alas ! The Emperor left, 
twisting his moustache, and the Empress rushed 
out, slamming the door. The four busts repre- 
sented Marguerite Bellanger. 

" Nieuwerkerke was immediately summoned be- 
fore the Empress, who called him an ass. Napoleon 
this time lost his temper, and became purple with 
anger. Vieil-Castel was avenged ! ' 

Another amusing story is recounted by the 
elegant Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy, who, in an 
interesting little volume of reminiscences, wittily 
tells how she nearly succumbed to the Emperor, 
and how she was saved by the story told her by an 
intimate friend, whose true name she concealed 
under that of Paulette de Lerignan. 

Paulette began her narration by telling how, 
during a walk in the park in Compiegne, she met 
the Emperor, and how he began to flirt with her. 
Then she says : 

" The day fixed for the inauguration of the 
famous manage of flying wooden horses had come, 
and, at the appointed hour, everybody was on the 
lawn. After two trial rounds, the Marquis de 
Massa began to play the hand-organ, and we 
mounted the wooden horses. I came down at the 
first stop, terribly dizzy, and was directing my 
steps towards a bench which I saw dimly, when T 
felt an arm seize me and support me. I turned 
round : it was the Emperor. He conducted me to 
the bench, sat beside me, and looked at me while 
I rearranged my hair. ' Walk a little ... it 
will do you good,' he said. I rose and took a few 


steps forward. . . . Suddenly he put his arm 
round my waist, bent his head and kissed my hair 
and my neck, and I heard him whispering into my 
ear : * This evening.' 

" We returned. He offered me his hand and 
made me mount the famous sorrel horse with green 
velvet housings, on which was embroidered the 
letter N. with the Imperial crown. When I found 
myself in my room, I was happy. . . . The door 
of my room opened suddenly, and my husband 
entered like the wind. I began to tremble, but I 
learned that he had just received the Emperor's 
orders to leave at once with M. Rouher, in order to 
be present at the sitting of a Commission. He had 
hardly disappeared behind the door when my maid 
came to tell me that, in the absence of my husband, 
I was to occupy a more comfortable room, situated 
at the extreme end of the corridor : the blue 
room ! 

" The evening seemed long. The Emperor 
did not speak to me at all, and did not even come 
and sit by me for one moment. This neglect con- 
trasted so strongly with the attentions he had dis- 
played towards me a few hours before that I was 
terribly upset and disappointed. Just before mid- 
night, when he was about to retire, I felt that he 
was looking at me. ... I raised my eyes and 
found that I was not mistaken. He turned and 
went slowly out, his head inclined, and twisting his 
moustache. A few minutes later, I also left and 
went to my new room and inspected it. T wished, 
before the expected attack, to reconnoitre its weak 


points, and to find those places through which the 
enemy might enter. 

" I then undressed without looking at the hor- 
rible door, and shivering slightly dived into bed and 
disappeared under the coverlet. My maid put my 
things in order, blew out the lamp and covered the 
fire with ashes. 

" A night light was placed on the mantelpiece. 
What was going to happen? Foolish question ! I 
knew ! Perhaps at the bottom of my heart, there 
was a slight feeling of satisfaction at the thought of 
the coming defeat. The weathercock turning on 
the Castle Tower broke in upon the profound quiet. 

" I waited, but not for long. A slight noise 
came to my ears, and the door that terrible door, 
opened softly. Silhouetted against the corridor 
lamp stood the Emperor, but not the Emperor with 
whom I was familiar. He had neither sceptre, nor 
crown, nor the mantle lined with ermine and 
embroidered with golden bees. He wore neither 
his general's uniform covered with orders, his sword 
and riding boots, nor his ceremonial costume with 
the great red ribband, knee breeches, silk stockings 
and buckled shoes. 

' No, the Emperor whom I beheld was stripped 
of all human pomp : he appeared as a simple very 
simple mortal. 

" The clothes which hid the august form con- 
sisted of a mauve silk pyjama suit. On the left 
side there was a handkerchief in a pocket, and on 
the collar shone a bee embroidered in gold. 

" Had his long moustache not been waxed, I 
could not have recognised him. He advanced with 


uneven steps because of the darkness. With one 
foot he pushed aside an armchair. I saw his shadow 
approaching my bed ; it bent. I closed my eyes 
and my destiny was accomplished. 

" The situation lasted but a short time. The 
Emperor recovered his calm and majesty promptly. 
I looked at him from the corner of my eyes ; his 
eyes were closed, the ends of his moustache, now 
un waxed, were hanging down limply. He breathed 

" The night-light suddenly went out. * Oh ! ' 
I exclaimed, vexed a little. ' Ah ! ' sighed the 
Emperor. A moment later His Majesty rose, 
crossed the room, guiding his steps by means of the 
furniture. The door opened and closed and I 
found myself alone. 

" My clock struck two. It had struck half-past 
one a few moments after the door had opened for 
the first time. . . . Half an hour was sufficient 
to make me an Empress." 

Paulette de Lerignan looked forward to a 
brilliant future, similar to that of her great grand- 
mother, who had been loved by Louis XV. and 
thereby enabled her family to emerge from the 
obscurity of a half-ruined castle in Gascony, but 
in this she was deeply disappointed. The next day 
her maid told her that the order had been given 
for her belongings to be removed from the blue 
room to that previously occupied by her. When 
the hour for riding the wooden horses came again 
the Emperor helped somebody else to mount the 
sorrel horse. 

The neglected beauty began to think how she 


could avenge the insult, and during the night she 
left her room quietly, went to the manbge, and 
unscrewed the sorrel horse. The next day, at the 
moment when the merry-go-round was turning at 
top speed, the horse came loose and the favoured 
lady fell heavily to the ground, her petticoats over 
her head. When, at the end of her visit to 
Coinpiegne, Paulette was leaving to join her hus- 
band, a jewel worth 15,000 francs was handed to 
her, from the Emperor. L'Empereur parvenu was 
less munificent than Louis XV ! 

Sometimes the over-enterprising Emperor made 
dreadful mistakes. One winter afternoon, during 
a tea-party, he touched a frock in the badly- 
lighted drawing-room . . . the frock was 
scented ... he pinched a calf. . . . An ex- 
clamation which had nothing feminine about it was 
heard. It was the bishop of Nancy, who had been 
dozing on a sofa. 

During a fancy-dress ball, he noticed a little 
masked woman, spoke to her, paid her compli- 
ments, squeezed her hand, and finally left the 
crowded ballroom with her. From the Apollo 
gallery they passed through the blue drawing- 
room, then the Empress's boudoir ; the Emperor 
opened the little door which led to his private 
apartment ... his companion appeared un- 
easy. The amorous sovereign became pressing, 
and as he met with resistance, he almost employed 

force " Sire, I implore you . . . 

you are mistaken. ... I beg of Your Majesty 
to listen to me. . . .'* But the Emperor would 
not listen. When the mask was at last removed, 


he was astounded to discover that it was the young 
Duke of R., whose effeminacy had won him the 
sobriquet of " Mademoiselle." 



NAPOLEON III. was not always so 
aristocratic in the choice of his 
favourites, and though the Empress 
watched her consort jealously, he suc- 
ceeded in satisfying his caprices even at the 
Tuileries. So, at all events, says the Marquise de 

Someone, probably Bacciochi, praised the charms 
of a little actress. His curiosity being aroused, he 
went to the theatre, found that the report con- 
cerning la petite cabotine was not exaggerated, and 
told the purveyor of his pleasures to induce the 
actress to come to the house in the rue d'Astorg, 
where he was wont to receive his chance inamoratas. 
The little actress w r as more than pretty ; she 
greatly resembled Nell Gwyn, less the big heart that 
beat for the poor ; she was impertinently witty and 
amused the Emperor, who w r as continually bored. 
So while the Empress thought sadly of how hard 
her poor husband was obliged to work, to fulfil his 
promise to make the whole population of France 



happy, the faithful and discreet coachman Charles, 
conducted him in the black coupe to his nest in the 
rue d'Astorg. 

" One day," says Mine, de Chatenoy, " the little 
woman had a fatal caprice ; she knew her Emperor 
only in a dressing-gown, and wished to admire him 
in his palace, in the midst of the luxury of the 
Court. Napoleon, prompted by the sentiment of 
vanity, gave in and gave her the regulation card 
admitting her to an audience. 

' The petite cabotine, dressed like a great lady, 
came to the Tuileries, showed the pass and was 
admitted. The Chamberlain, the Due de Bassano, 
respectfully ushered her through the door leading 
to the Emperor's cabinet. The beautiful child 
thought that she would be able to admire her 
Emperor clad in purple, surrounded by courtiers 
resplendent in gold-embroidered clothes . 
she was disappointed, for he was hardly more 
splendid than in the rue d'Astorg. . . . She 
began to prattle . . . laughed at the Cham- 
berlain who had ushered her in, and made funny 
remarks. . . . Napoleon smiled indulgently. 

" When he received that kind of visitor, it was 
his custom to lock the door which conducted from 
his cabinet to the stairs communicating with the 
Empress's apartments .... That day, absent- 
minded as usual, he forgot that useful precaution. 
At a moment when the actress had thrown herself 
on his neck, the little door opened very gently 

. and a smiling face appeared. . . 
The smile changed suddenly into an expression of 
wrath. It was not the Empress, but the Countess 


Walewska. . . . The little door closed again 

" The girl continued kissing the Emperor, who, 
remembering just then that the door was not 
locked, told her that she must be going. The pretty 
child sighed, but prepared to obey, and she began 
arranging her hair before a mirror over the mantel- 
piece. The mirror was too high, so she jumped on 
to a chair. The Emperor amused himself by admir- 
ing her ankles. Suddenly the door which nobody 
dared to open without the Emperor's order flew 
back. The Empress, who had disregarded the 
order, entered, followed by Walewska, \vho had 
warned the wife. 

" The Emperor stopped admiring the lovely 
ankles. . . . He said not a word, and lost not 
a whit of his calm. The poor little actress jumped 
down from the chair and rushed out. The Emperor 
explained that it was but a momentary caprice, of 
no consequence whatever, but he had used the same 
argument too often. . . . While the Empress 
grew angry and cried, he merely bent his head and 
let the storm pass, limiting himself to saying : 
' 'Ugenie . . . 'Ugenie . . . you go too 
far.' . . . 'Ugenie, having said all that which 
her dignity should have prevented her from saying, 
suddenly began to sob. 

" The Emperor waited for this moment 
the storm always ended in that way. This time 
the crisis of sobbing threatened to be protracted. 
He was annoyed for a moment and ordered her to 
stop. She revolted, and cried out, still weeping : 
' I am going away ... 1 shall take Louis. 


' ' If you do that, I shall have you locked up.' 

" ' I will do it.' 

" ' No, you shall not.' 

"' I shall go mad.' 

" * I am afraid you will.' 

" ' Lock me up, if you wish. I shall be less 
unhappy in a convent or in prison than in this 
palace, where I am an object of derision.' 

" ' 'Ugenie! ' 

" ' No, I will never accept this degrading posi- 
tion of a slave who panders to your caprices.' 

" ' You know my affection . . .' 

" ' I do not believe in it any more. . . I wish 
to go. ... I wish to go.' 

" ' You forget who you are! You forget that 
the least imprudent step on your part will make a 

" ' If I forget it, you do not think of it either. 
. I wish to go away.' 

" ' Where do you wish to go? ' 

" ' I do not know. ... I wish to go.' 

" * You will think it over . . . reflection 
will make you more reasonable.' 

' ; The Empress exhausted her tears, but her re- 
sentment remained, and she withdrew with 
Walewska, leaving the Emperor very annoyed. 
Eugenie, in her anger, left the Tuileries. The 
Emperor let her go, and it was announced that she 
was ill. She travelled incognito and visited Scot- 
land, which she had not seen since her nomadic 
youth. There she distributed many good words 
and a great number of Sevres vases. When she re- 
turned, they said she had recovered, and a recon- 

SUITE 101 

ciliation took place . . . momentarily. It 
can be affirmed, though, that she never retaliated." 

The Empress of the French was very beautiful, 
and naturally she aroused many desires, but not- 
withstanding the defamatory pamphlets published 
in Germany, there is not a shadow of truth in the 
allegations made against her. It is true that she 
was coquettish, especially with her old friends, 
making one day promises which she withdrew the 
next, but that was all. Those who believe that 
every document to be found in the hands of the 
police is truthworthy will be disappointed to learn 
tli at a paper deposited in the archives of the Paris 
Prefecture, in which it is stated, with all the appear- 
ance of truth, that Eugenie had a child before she 
married Napoleon III., is a malicious invention con- 
taining not an atom of truth. She had a great 
number of admirers, including that brilliant officer 
who was so madly in love with her that he was 
ordered to go and serve in Algeria, but not one 

The admiration of the Prince von Metternich and 
of Signor Nigra, then of Viollet-le-Duc and of 
About, are known, but it is certain that the senti- 
ment of these men never overstepped the bounds of 
propriety. '* Not being able to criticise her con- 
duct, they criticised her words," says Irenee 

" * I watch over the virtue of the young girls,' she 
said one day. ' As to the married women, I care 
neither for their virtues nor their lapses.' 

" When she went out incognito, men sometimes 
followed her with propos gal ants, which amused her 



very much. One day, an officer recognised her 
while she was walking in the Champs-Elysees, and 
she could not rid herself of him. When they 
reached the gate of the Tuileries, he took leave of 
her without embarrassment, showing that he was 
well aware of her identity. 

" Notwithstanding the Emperor's infidelities and 
all the pain she felt on that account, notwithstand- 
ing the assiduity of numerous admirers, notwith- 
standing the innumerable examples of infidelity she 
saw every day, it is safe to say that she preserved her 
wifely dignity untouched." 

She became less jealous later, and she said to 
someone who advised her to mistrust the beautiful 
women by w r hom she was so fond of being sur- 
rounded : " I must try to amuse the Emperor 
through the medium of beautiful women." 



WHILE the Court was at Fontainebleau, 
the Princess von Metternich who 
had a great and disastrous influence 
over the Empress, and who was the 
source of many innovations, both fortunate and un- 
fortunate, the latter predominating suggested 
that the ladies of the Court should go to the races 
in short skirts. 

The Empress applauded the idea. 
The short skirts were ordered at once ; they were 
ready to be worn when a lady of the Court there 
still remained some ladies warned the Princess von 
Metternich that this peculiar and enticing attire, 
which permitted a view of shapely ankles and 
calves, would be nothing short of a scandal. 

" What wrong will there be if the Empress is 
also dressed like that? " retorted the Austrian lady. 
" No wrong," answered the lady, " but it is not 
decent that she should show herself so ; it does not 
matter for us. . . . Tell me frankly, would 
you advise your sovereign, in Austria, to dress like 
that? ' 



That is not the same thing! " exclaimed the 
Princess. " My Empress is a real one ... a 
royal Empress, while yours is only Mile, de 

Those words thoroughly characterise the Court 
of the Second Empire, whose key-note was 

The Count de Vieil-Castel speaks of the Austrian 
lady in the following manner : " The Princess 
Metternich has assumed the manners and the ton 
of a strumpet, and yet is the Empress's favourite ; 
she drinks, she smokes, she swears, she is ugly 
enough to frighten one, and she tells stories ! ' 

Irenee Mauget says of her : " Her mouth was 
too big, and her turned-up nostrils spoiled the 
harmony of her face, but gave her du piquant." 
" C'est une jolie laide," people said of her. She 
lashed and bit with her wit, which though often 
brutal, was sometimes fine. 

The Princess von Metternich was the wife of the 
Austrian Ambassador, who was a son of the Metter- 
nich who took such good care of the son of Napoleon 
I. The turbulent and daring Princess was the 
originator of that disastrous whirlwind of fetes, 
eccentricities, vulgarities and exaggerated luxury 
of which, among a thousand examples, these two 
paragraphs taken from a letter of Colonel Verly 
given an excellent idea : 

" The Princess von Metternich made fashionable 
dances given in gardens transformed into ballrooms, 
lighted by thousands of multi-coloured lamps. 
Trees, houses and dancers are enveloped in a blaze 
of Bengal lights, which give to certain places some- 


times the aspect of true paradises, to others of the 
infernal habitations of Lucifer. The result of this 
new fashion is that those who have no drawing- 
rooms on the ground floor are obliged to spend 
sixty to eighty thousand francs to build up an aerial 
garden, on a level with the first floor. Paris seems 
to have become a modern Babylon, of which the 
amiable Princess von Metteruich is the Semi- 

It was the Princess von Metternich who also 
made it fashionable for grandcs dames and ordinary 
ladies to visit doubtful restaurants, and this deplor- 
able fashion has been transmitted to our generation. 

When the Court was at Compiegne or Fontaine- 
bleau, and the evening was too dull, the Princess 
would whisper to a dozen of her best friends that 
she would retire under the pretext of a headache, 
and that they should follow, each with a gay 
cavalier, to her apartment, where the headache was 
soon subjugated by music and dancing. 

One evening; when the merriment was at its 
height, the doors were thrown open to admit the 
Empress, who came to enquire how poor Pauline's 
headache was. Instead of being amused at the 
lively scene which she beheld, she was annoyed and 
accused the Princess in angry words of having failed 
in respect to her. The wife of the Austrian 
diplomatist answered with equal wrath : " Madam, 
you forget that I came into the world grande dame ; 
I will suffer no reprimand to be addressed to me." 

She gave once a fete in the Empress' honour, 
during which she, the Princess von Metternich, 
assisted by a dancing-master, performed le pas du 


diable a quartre! After the dances, ballet-girls in 
tights came down from the stage and mingled with 
the guests. 

She professed to be so fond of the Empress of the 
French, that one day, when Eugenie spoke of her 
admiration for Marie- Antoinette, the Princess von 
Metternich exclaimed : " I should so like to be your 
Princess de Lamballe ! ' 

To give an idea of the mad extravagance of those 
days, it may be recorded that the Countess de Pour- 
tales famous for her thick fair hair, her expressive 
blue eyes, her lovely complexion and fine figure 
spent 50,000 francs on flowers to decorate her palace 
for one of the brilliant fetes for which she was 

Often fortunes were spent on frocks. The 
husbands were ruined, and, in order to recoup 
themselves, speculated ; sometimes they did not 
take the trouble to do that, and simply borrowed 
from the Je\vs. 

A certain banker from Frankfort used to help the 
spendthrift ladies ; he took advantage of the posi- 
tion given him by his services and got himself 
invited to the most aristocratic drawing-rooms, and 
even to Court. His wife, who was quite pretty 
and very liberal in the distribution of her charms, 
made the circle of their friends still larger. 

During one Court ball the guests noticed that the 
Jewish Baron, usually very quiet, was very excited 
and kept wandering to and fro through the drawing- 
rooms. They asked him the cause of his per- 
plexity : " I am looking for my wife; she has dis- 
appeared." " Are you jealous? ' "Oh, no! 


One always finds the wife, but she has 100,000 
francs worth of jewelry on her, and I do not know 
with whom she has gone; one never knows what 
may happen." This at the Imperial Court ! 

The craving for pleasure was excessive ; very 
often both courtiers and guests behaved very badly. 
The Earl of Malmesbury, in this connection, wrote 
on November 14, 1857 : " The English ladies who 
went to Compiegne for the fetes have just returned, 
and seem to have been greatly amused. They were 
struck by the freedom of conversation and manners 
of the Court, which (freedom) is most remarkable 
in Princess Mathilde. Their forgetfulness of all 
convenances is quite incredible, and in more than 
one instance excited the disgust of the guests." 

Then, under the date of November 15, 1857 : *' I 
returned to Paris in the Royal carriage a large 
omnibus the party being M. and Mme. de 
Morny ; M. and Mme. Walewski ; and two ladies- 
in-waiting, one of whom, Mme. de Pierre, an 
American nee Thorne, and the Duchess de Morny, 
a Russian, just married, smoked all the way in the 
Empress' face. . . . The genre of the women 
about her, with the exception of Mme. Walewska, 
is vile. Their hair is dragged off their faces so 
tightly that they can hardly shut their eyes, and 
their scarlet accoutrements, jackets, cloaks, etc., as 
they happen to be very fair, made an ensemble in- 
describably unbecoming." 

The Emperor was not very gay. He could not 
sustain a long conversation, so that evenings were 
tedious at the Court ; but when he was out and the 
Empress was in a good humour, they gossiped with 


pleasure, the Princess von Metternich being the 
leader. She was ably seconded by the Marquis de 
Caux (afterwards the husband of Adelina Patti), 
who told stories that were more than risquecs. 

Count Tascher de la Pagerie, besides being First 
Chamberlain, was also the Court Buffoon. Some- 
times, interrupting the conversation, the Empress 
would say to him : " Count, do imitate a turkey- 
cock." And immediately the buffoon imitated the 
gobbling bird by clucking and strutting in a word, 
was more a turkey than the bird itself. 

" Imitate the sun," the Empress would say to 
him, and the Chamberlain, by means of the most 
stupid grimaces, became the sun. " Imitate the 
moon." He would assume a silly expression and 
say, while his naturally heavy features became even 
more leaden : " Here is the moon." 

A still more vulgar amusement of the Court of 
those times was the game called Cheval fondu. It 
was played in the following manner : 

A man would kneel down and put his head in the 
lap of a woman who was seated ; while he was in that 
position, men and women would mount his back 
until he could stand no more ; then all rolled on the 
floor together, in a droll pele-mele. 

Then there were the tableaux vivants and the 
charades, in which the most beautiful women of the 
Court would take part. For the former, purity and 
nudity of form were demanded, while for inter- 
preting the charades very daring poses were 

The Count de Vieil-Castel says : " The Court 
amuses itself at Compiegne ; the Duchesse de la 


Pagerie gives tableaux vivants, trashy charades and 
other trifles, while that lively little monster, 
Princess von Metternich, dances in ballets." 

" You cannot imagine," wrote Merimee to 
Princess Julie, " what I suffered on account of the 
charades at Compiegne, of which you wrote me. 
While writing this vile stuff I was thinking of those 
German song- writers who composed immoral 
chansons in order to earn money for their wives' 

One day the talented and much-abused author 
signed himself : Prospere Merimee, Her Majesty's 

The vulgarity was apparently universal. The 
Count de Vieil-Castel, speaking of a dinner at which 
he was present at the Tuileries, says : " The 
Princess of Belgrade forced attention on herself by 
speaking loudly, avec des sous-entendus risqu&s, 
using such trivial expressions as : ' Oh, public 
opinion ! Ce que je m'cn moquel ' ' This is a 
decent house : well kept, service correcte, table 
soignee.' . . . And after such utterances, she 
would look round in order to judge the effect she 
had produced, and as if to say, ' You see how witty 
lam! '" 

Notwithstanding the very limited and not over- 
refined faculties of her mind, it was she who so 
admirably characterised the vulgarity of life in Paris 
when she said : " When I am here, it seems to me 
that I am at an inn." 

During dinner the conversation was very free ; 
the men told stories for which the French descrip- 
tion salecs is inadequate. The Marquise de Taisey- 


Chatenoy tells us that one evening, at a dinner- 
party, Princess Mathilde was told by General 
Fleury of an adventure which had happened to a 
senator while on an official mission. The tale was 
grivois, and the princess laughed so much that she 
had to put a napkin into her mouth in order to stop 
her hysterical laughter . . . then she begged 
the humorous General to cease : "' I beg of you, be 
quiet . . . vous allez me faire p . 
pleurer. ' ' 

There was an orderly officer to the Emperor, by 
the name of Duperre. His great accomplishment 
was to make bread pellets and to flick them so 
adroitly that they would always fall into the mouth 
of the Prince Imperial, who was seated opposite the 
officer. This amusement, innocent though it may 
be, could hardly be called refined, even by the most 
indulgent people. One must sympathise with the 
Count de Vieil-Castel when he gave vent to his 
indignation, and said : " The aristocrats of the 
Imperial Court puff themselves up more and more. 
They have good reason for doing so ! Vachon de 
Belmont has taken an oath that he will become 
fatter than an ox, and that he will have more crosses 
on his chest than there were on Calvary . . ." 

The taste at the Court was so lo\v that the ladies 
did not mind being called caillettes. This word, 
which is not to be found in the dictionary of the 
French Academy, is not a diminutive of caille 
quail but derivates from canaille. It was General 
Fleury who invented the word. He used it for the 
first time when Mile, de Beusman appeared at 
Court, describing her as canaillette. The courtiers 


found the word charming, but the Empress thought 
it too long and shortened it to caillette. 

When the Chamberlain-buffoon did not imitate 
the cries of various birds and animals, the courtiers 
amused themselves by giving each other nicknames. 
Thus, the Countess de Vanves was called carpette 
a little carp ; Mine, de Vaugirard, mouchette 
a little fly ; Mme. d'Auteuil, grenouillette a little 
frog ; the Vicomtesse de Passy, crapodine toad- 
let ; Mme. de Saint-Calais, tete-d'epingle, on 
account of her thin figure surmounted by a big 
head ; Mme. de Saint-Brieux was Vlncomplete. 

Of course, the defective education of the 
Empress, and especially the nomadic life which she 
had led before her marriage, did not contribute to 
the superior refinement that one expects to find in 
a Sovereign, and the Latin saying, quo semel 
imbuta est semper odorem servabit testa, proved 
undeniably true in her case. 

The already-quoted detective of the Imperial 
police said in his diary on April 5th, 1855 : *' She 
cannot forget the habits of extreme freedom con- 
tracted before her marriage. It even happens some- 
times that she behaves in a childish manner 
curiously in contrast with her present elevation. 
The story is told that recently she went with the 
Emperor to visit a garden. During the walk he 
bent to examine a plant. The Empress thought it 
funny to push her august consort from behind, 
causing him to fall." 

That excessive love of freedom often made 
Eugenie forget that she was an Empress. One day 
in the forest, on the hills of Sables d'Arbonnes, she 


tucked her skirts between her legs, sat down, and 
slid down the smooth slope, shouting : " Follow 
me who can ! ' 

Her followers imitated her, and the result was 
the picturesque and edifying spectacle of court 
ladies tumbling over each other at the foot of the 
hill, petticoats flying and hair dishevelled. 

Another time, while at Fontainebleau for her 
Saint's day, which was on November 15th, the 
Empress conceived a mad desire to go to a rustic 
dance in the village. She communicated her fancy 
to one of the ladies of the palace, who secured two 
peasants' costumes. In the evening, they drove 
in a carriage to the edge of the forest, changed their 
clothes in a hut, ran to the village and entered the 
tent in which the lads made their lasses dance. 

Soon they were noticed by some workmen, who 
invited them to dance. The ladies refused, laugh- 
ing, but the men were not to be discouraged 
they seemed excited, and, without being 
rough, they pressed the two ladies to dance and to 
drink with them. One of them, a big, strapping 
fellow, put his arm round the Empress' waist 
. another kissed her lady-in-waiting. The 
situation became critical. 

The Empress had made her suivante take an oath 
not to reveal the secret of their adventure to any- 
one, but she, frightened at her responsibility, had 
told everything to her husband. He, in his turn, 
communicated with two friends, and the three men 
followed quietly behind. The husband, seeing a 
man kissing his wife, intervened, but the workman 
would not give up, and there followed a lively fight, 


during which wigs and artificial beards were pulled 
from the heads and chins of the Court dignitaries. 

When the Emperor learned of this adventure, he 
scolded the Empress, who defended herself by re- 
minding him that Marie- Antoinette had " indulged 
in similar pranks " ! 

"The Empress goes a bit too far," wrote the 
Count de Vieil-Castel. " By overriding conven- 
tion, as she does, she commits follies which are for- 
bidden to crowned heads, and which would hardly 
become even a simple mortal." 



WHEN the Parisian season was over, that 
is to say, after the Grand Prix, the 
Court passed the beginning of the 
summer at the charming Chateau de 
Saint-Cloud, of which there remains to-day only 
sad ruins and the beautiful park. 

Notwithstanding the natural and artistic beauty 
of Saint-Cloud, the Empress preferred Biarritz, as 
being nearer to her native country. It was she who, 
during her vagabond life, discovered the beauty of 
the shore of Biarritz, and when capricious Fortune 
put the Imperial crown on her head and made her 
almost omnipotent in the country, she assured the 
prosperity of the town by ordering a " Villa 
Eugenie " to be built for her there. 

From that moment Biarritz that El Dorado of 
cocottes and millionaires was " discovered." 

Eugenie was very hospitable in Biarritz, as else- 
where, and received a great deal of promiscuous 
company which made that old grumbler, the Count 
de Vieil-Castel, say that " the people she invited 

were very curious," while Prospere Merimee, true 



Bohemian that he was, wrote on September 27th, 
1802 : " There is not a castle in France or England 
where one is so perfectly at liberty and free from 
etiquette, or one that has such a thorough and 
amiable chatelaine." 

Of course, her countrymen flocked to Biarritz, 
where they were heartily welcomed by the 
Empress, and looked on with scorn by her French 

A young French nobleman, noticing three small, 
swarthy Spanish grandees, very much infatuated 
with their own grandeur, walking through the 
drawing-rooms of the Imperial residence, with their 
heads raised high and a haughty air, turned to a 
friend, saying : " Who are those coloured men? ' 

" They arc the Blagadores y habladores de la 
Mendacitas di tra los monies y Pyrcneos ; they keep 
their hats on their heads before their king if they 
have one and here they hold them out to get a few 
gold pieces from their cousin, our gracious sove- 

Unfortunately, their conversation was overheard 
by the Empress, whose national pride was hurt, and 
she demanded of the Emperor that they should be 
dismissed from the posts they held under the 
Government. Napoleon resisted at first, but then 
gave in for the sake of peace. 

The Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy tells us that, 
as life was somewhat dull at such a small place as 
Biarritz, the masculine part of the Court would take 
leave of the sovereigns at about eleven o'clock in 
the evening, escape clandestinely from the water- 
ing-place, and go to Bayonne for enjoyment. The 


ladies of the Court, notwithstanding the late hour, 
did not think of sleeping, and complained of their 
abandonment to the Empress, who interrogated the 
culprits : " Gentlemen, what do you do every 
evening at Bayonne? ' 

Taken by surprise, they remained silent, then one 
of them answered : " Madam, we go to call on the 
Bishop." The Empress did not press the matter 
further, but when the Bishop of Bayonne came to 
pay his respects to the sovereigns, she said to him : 
" I am angry with you, my lord, for taking away 
the gentlemen every evening ; my ladies are dis- 
satisfied." The prelate, who was very keen, replied 
that in the future he would discontinue his 
nocturnal receptions. 

Pierre de Lano has left us a story which shows the 
capricious fancy and not very exalted taste of the 
Empress of the French. 

" One evening, accompanied by her intimate 
courtiers of both sexes, she was seized with a fancy 
to climb over the wall of the Villa Eugenie and enter 
the neighbouring property, near which passed a 
road much frequented by people taking evening 
strolls. There, taking hold of a stick those who 
followed her having done the same she watched 
near the fence, and when anyone came near, 
walking slowly, she gave them a blow with her stick 
and then hid behind the fence. This game lasted 
some minutes. But one of the victims of this trick, 
less patient than the others, began to shout, and 
determined to know who the perpetrator of the jest 
was. He made such an uproar that the owner of 
the property appeared, joined the plaintiff, and 


began an energetic hunt for the Empress and her 
companions. When the party reached the wall of 
the Villa Eugenie, an equerry was obliged to serve 
as a ladder for the Empress and her ladies, and he 
himself had hardly time to escape from the 
infuriated pursuers." 

Madame Carette tells us that the Empress loved 
dangerous excursions, and showed great courage in 
moments of peril. One morning she decided to 
make a sea excursion to San Sebastian ; the 
Emperor disliked that kind of distraction. She 
embarked with the Prince Imperial, Admiral 
Jurien de la Graviere, the daughters of the Duchess 
of Alba, Miles. Marion, Corvisart and Mme. 
Carette. Suddenly the wind rose, the sea became 
rough, and the captain said that he could not make 
Biarritz, but would have to go to Saint-Jean-de- 
Luz, which was reached just before nightfall. The 
shore being rocky, the ship could not go close in, 
and boats were launched. The one in which the 
Empress was seated was in charge of an in- 
experienced sailor, and the result was that it was 
wrecked on a rock. 

The anxiety was great ; the Empress, holding her 
son in her arms, and helped by the sailors, was able 
to reach the rock, and stood there in the midst of 
the roaring waves. Finally, an old sea-dog entered 
the water, and said that it was possible to make a 
human chain to land. The Empress and her ladies 
were passed from arm to arm by the sailors, and 
soon found themselves on solid ground. 

The Empress was often seized with an irresistible 
longing for Spanish manners and customs, as well 



as the language of her childhood. She frequently 
made little excursions into Spain from Biarritz, and 
charmed the peasants with her amiability, as she 
spoke Spanish to them and was lavish in her gifts. 

That hearty welcome suggested to her the idea 
of going to Madrid, w r here she could appear as the 
equal of the Queen whose subject she had been. 
Merimee, her loyal old friend, used all his power 
to persuade her to abandon the plan, for he feared 
that she would not be received as well as she antici- 
pated, and that the press might be rude to her. 

Pie wrote to his friend Panizzi : " The devil 
which presides over our affairs has sent us the 
Imperial yacht Aigle, and persuaded us to circum- 
navigate the Iberian peninsula. . . . They are 
going to Lisbon to see if the Queen was well 
brought to bed, then visit Cadiz, Malaga and 
Granada, and return by way of Marseilles. 

" There is nothing inconvenient in the trip to 
Portugal, but in Andalusia things are more grave : 
a quantity of cousins, the Due de Montpensier at 
San Lucar or Seville ; the Spanish elections. Cor- 
tuna, ex-minister of Finance, whom I met in 
Bayonne, told me that the arrival of Her Majesty 
in Andalusia might become an occasion for very 
grave disorder. She will be received in a scandalous 
or dangerous manner." 

Merimee was not listened to, although his fears 
were justified, for the inhabitants of Madrid 
received their country-woman badly. The Empress 
was insulted with hostile shouts, and it was found 
necessary to abandon a bull-fight which was on the 
programme of the Imperial visit in 1863. 


This hostile attitude of the Spaniards is a very 
curious psychological problem, and difficult to 

If Eugenie's amour propre was hurt by the 
hostility shown to her by the populace, it was 
flattered by the reception she received from the 
Queen of Spain, and perhaps still more by the 
adulatory article written by the United States 
Ambassador in Madrid to an American paper : 

" When one has spent a whole year in Madrid, 
as I have, where evil tongues, both in high and 
lower circles, have whispered so many defamatory 
reports respecting the Empress Eugenie, in spite 
of what one has heard of her extraordinary beauty, 
one is not too ready to yield oneself a captive in the 
expectation of meeting her. A great, if not the 
greatest, power of attraction that beauty can exer- 
cise certainly consists in the fact that we can asso- 
ciate it with purity and loveliness of soul. 

" I hate the Empire and everything connected 
with it with all my heart. Moreover, I believe I 
am right that the Empress has come to Spain, and 
especially to the Court, to pave the way for a union, 
or, at all events, for cordial co-operation, in 
Mexican intrigue. I was, therefore, but little dis- 
posed to succumb to her charms ; besides, I trusted 
in the strength of my prejudice, with which I felt I 
was fully armed. 

" At a gala performance in the theatre, I saw 
her for a few minutes in a very poor light, but still 
I came to the conclusion that it was quite worth 
while to study her appearance more closely. 

" When I met her yesterday in the hall of the 


Embassy, simply dressed, wearing her hat, and 
speaking Spanish, her features lighted up, and 
fingers, fan and little feet all in animated movement 
as she talked, I lay down my arms on the spot ; I 
lost the battle at the first onslaught ! 

" Yes, she is beautiful, more lovely than words 
can express ! 

" And how sparkling she was at the banquet that 
evening ! 

"I did not sit opposite her; that seat was 
occupied by the Queen of Spain ; but still I was 
placed so that I could see her well. The lady by 
my side, the wife of an ambassador, an English- 
woman by birth, the mother of grown-up children, 
and of perfectly correct morals, who had frequently 
seen the Empress five or six years ago, told me that 
she is now even far more lovely than she was then. 
She was simply enraptured with her, and exclaimed 
with enthusiasm : ' Does she not deserve a throne, 
if only for her beauty ? ' 

" The Empress is of middle height, not so tall as 
her portrait led me to suppose, slight and supple, 
but at the same time comely. She has the figure of 
a girl, the very model of a Hebe. Her bust, neck, 
shoulders, arms, and especially her hands, are in- 
comparably beautiful, and she has the grace of an 
Andalusian danseuse. 

" But, to gain the very best impression of her, 
one must hear her converse in Spanish. On account 
of her Scotch descent, she naturally speaks English 
like her mother-tongue, and she is perfectly fluent 
in French ; but these two languages she speaks with 
her mouth only. 


" She was talking to the King with great anima- 
tion, and eyes, mouth, hands, and especially her 
pretty fingers, seemed to be equally expressive, and 
to impart to her words the very essence of their 
meaning and importance. 

" How completely she put the good Queen in the 
shade this evening ! Isabella is three or four years 
her junior, but how terribly Bourbon she looked ! 

" After coffee, an informal reception was held in 
the royal drawing-room, when Their Majesties 
simply bowed to most of the guests and exchanged 
a few words with one here and there as they stood 
in rows or groups. The Queen dragged herself 
from one to the other, nodding and smiling in her 
usual friendly manner ; Eugenie, on the contrary, 
flitted from one to another, going up close, almost 
affectionately, to some, and chatting in the most 
winsome way. 

" But the contrast was the most apparent when 
they took leave and turned to bow r to the guests. 
The Queen set her whole body in motion, and 
nodded her head as familiarly as any citizen's wife ; 
but Eugenie turned towards them in all her graceful 
charm, placed her feet firmly, and then stood 
bending the upper part of her body back and 
bringing it forward again, with the easiest, prettiest 
movement from side to side, like a swan curving its 
neck : then, without turning, she slowly withdrew 
backwards to the doorway. In this way she copied 
to perfection the wonderful swaying movement of 
the upper part of the body in which the Andalusian 
dcmscuscs are inimitable. 

" And her dress ! The ladies contemplated it in 


silent awe, and even grave diplomatists were in 
raptures about the arrangement and adorning of her 

" Perhaps for an Empress she was too much of a 
coquette, but as an Andalusian, which she is, and 
looked upon simply as a woman, she was the most 
perfect creation I have seen anywhere." 

There can be no doubt that Eugenie was beauti- 
ful ; even the cold English diplomatist, Lord 
Malmesbury, says, under the date of November 27, 
1853, that " the Empress looked handsomer than 
ever." He also mentions her reverence circulaire, 
as the Court used to call her single bow, combined 
with one smiling glance in which she included all 
who were present. This was one of the Empress' 
social triumphs, and never failed to excite admira- 

There are no contemporary testimonies as to the 
Empress* English, but as to her French, the 
cultured Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy says : " Her 
voice was rude, hard, and she spoke with a foreign 
accent which was more English than Spanish." 
The writer, moreover, laughs at her pronounciation 
of the French word pelouse, w r hich she made to 
sound like pailouse. 

Perhaps the American Ambassador was too 
hyperbolical in his praise. This is a fault often met 
with in his country. 




are a great many instances which 
prove that the Count de Vieil-Castel 
was not unjust when he said, censur- 
ingly : "The Empress follows the 
caprices of her fancy as a woman, and not the 
exigencies of her role as a sovereign." 

Pierre de la (iorce gives the following instance of 
her disconcerting capriciousness : 

One day, when accompanied by de Verly, she 
noticed one of the magnificent Cent Gardes sentries 
standing motionless before the Castle. Turning to 
the Colonel, she remarked : " I am convinced that 
this statuesque pose of your men is mere affectation, 
and that it would take very little to upset it." 
" Your Majesty may test the matter for yourself," 
was the reply. She frowned, and, speaking harshly, 
reproached the guardsman for his lack of smartness. 
Seeing that she did not succeed in moving him, she 
boxed his ears ; he did not move, or utter a sound. 
The next day she sent him five hundred francs. 
Albert de Verly relates another story : 
" On the evening of a ball at the Tuileries, the 



famous coiffeur Felix went to dress the hair of Mme. 
X, but, having forgotten certain necessary articles, 
took from his carriage the ornaments which he had 
ready for the Empress, saying to himself that he 
would invent something else for the sovereign. 

" When in the evening Mme. X appeared in the 
drawing-room of the Tuileries, she created a sensa- 
tion. A little later the Empress entered. She 
walked straight up to Mme. X and said to her : 
' Madame, who dressed your hair? ' The lady 
replied : * It was Felix, Your Majesty's coiffeur. 1 
' Thank you; that will do.' The Empress never 
forgave Mme. X for having employed her coiffeur, 
and especially for having worn the coiffure which 
should have been hers." 

The Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy says that the 
Empress was lacking in esprit, and that when she 
wished to show that she had it, she simply became 
clumsy. In support of this, she tells the following 
story : 

" One evening she turned to M. de B., an unfor- 
tunate husband who had forgiven his wife's last 
lapse ; she made fun of his misfortune, excused his 
wife on account of the seductive qualities of 
her lover, and praised the indulgent husband. 
The courtiers surrounding her laughed. The 
husband grew pale, but, having regained his calm, 
he said with apparent simplicity : ' Madam, you are 
perfectly right. There exist both men and women 
who are extraordinarily endowed in every way and 
know no obstacles. There is no resisting certain 
women ; that is why many husbands forgive unfor- 
tunate wives, who allow themselves to be carried 


away by passion. It would be better were all men 
and women alike, for there would be fewer bad 
menages. Then wives would excuse their husbands 
when they were carried away by passion. 
It seems, for instance, that at the present moment 
a vile creature sows discord in more than one 
menage . . . her name is Marguerite Bel- 
langer. . . .' There was a great noise of chairs 
being moved . . . some of the courtiers 
coughed. . . . One of the ladies saved the 
situation by going to the window and saying to the 
Prince Imperial : ' Monseigneur, come and see ; it 
is snowing and the trees are all white.' Everybody 
looked at the trees covered with snow. But it 
was less cold in the garden than in the drawing- 

The Empress often spoke abstractedly. One 
day, when visiting an Art Exhibition, she stopped 
before a statue representing Chastity : it was a very 
young girl whose form was very slender. " How 
narrow those shoulders are," she said, pouting. 

Her guide, the sculptor Nieuwerkerke, defended 
the artist, saying that the slenderness rendered the 
meaning of the work better. " One can be very 
modest, without being so narrow," answered the 

The Empress had a great veneration for Saint 
Teresa, and one day, during a lively conversation, 
she maintained that she was a direct descendant of 
the great Spanish saint. 

" In direct line? " queried Napoleon. 

" Yes! " 

*' Are vou certain of it? ' 



* But Saint Teresa died a maiden," said the 
Emperor, smiling maliciously, and they talked 
about something else. 

When she stood on her dignity as a sovereign, 
instead of being just the free and unconventional 
Mile, de Montijo, she assumed a haughty and 
affected mien, sat in a throne-like armchair which 
nobody dared approach without being asked to do 
so by a chamberlain, and watched over the recep- 
tion. The Count de Vieil-Castel says : " The 
Empress confounds dignity with superciliousness ; 
she fears lest people should find out that she is not 
sufficiently an Empress, and she is disdainful with- 
out reason." 

The artificiality of her assumed royal air was 
discovered by the Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy 
during an audience which she describes in the 
following manner : 

" The Empress was alone, the Emperor having 
gone out. Her Majesty was sitting, or rather, re- 
clining in a deep low armchair ; her feet were placed 
on a footstool which brought her knees up very 
high. Her attire seemed to me very simple ; she 
wore no jewels save a clover-shaped emerald and 
diamond brooch. Her hair, tightly and smoothly 
combed, was drawn from the temples and coiled on 
the nape of her neck." 

The mise-en-sc^ne of the Empress' reception was 
always prepared to the smallest detail. It was done 
by her reader and maid. 

" On her lap there was an open book ; she played 
with a large paper-knife of ebony, which she applied 


constantly to her cheeks and hands, as a foil to her 
fresh complexion. On a table near by there was 
a large inkstand with a quill and a note-book with 
gilded edges ; then notes, the file of the audiences 
of the day and affairs in which she took an interest. 
She played the official personage with childish 

' Her Majesty nodded to me graciously and told 
me to be seated. Then she took from the table 
notes concerning the object of my audience, with 
which she seemed to become immediately familiar. 

'" ' You are from Burgundy, madam? ' 

" ' Yes, madam.' 

" ; It is a beautiful country.' 

" I bowed. 

" * Tell your friends the Burgundians that the 
Emperor thinks much of them.' 

" The voice was rude, harsh, and she spoke with 
a foreign accent that was more English than 

" I rose, curtseyed three times, and went out. 

" In the pink drawing-room I found the ladies 
of the Palace, chatting with those awaiting 
audiences. Through the slightly open door I could 
hear the beginning of another audience. 

" ' You are from Lorraine, madam? ' 

" 'Yes, madam.' 

" ' It is a beautiful country. . . . Tell your 
friends of Lorraine how much the Emperor thinks 
of them.' 

" I looked at the Viscountess Aguado ; she 
smiled maliciously and led me out. 

" I remember the details of mv audience well 


the doubtful cleanliness of that blue drawing-room, 
the smell of tobacco, the crying of a child in another 
room and I wondered how this home would look 
if the surroundings were less expensive and of a less 
exalted order." 

One of the Empress' principal pastimes was 
arranging the papers very often important ones 
which Napoleon threw carelessly on one side. 
There were a great number of them, and it occupied 
a considerable portion of her time to classify them 
and to put them in order. The Emperor smiled 
on her mania, and she herself used often to make 
merry about it. "I am like a mouse at the 
Emperor's side," she would say, " I gather up all 
the crumbs." 

Another of the Empress' amusements was 
painting in water-colour, of which the Marquise de 
Taisey-Chatenoy says : " The Empress colours 
images d'Epinal and calls them water-colour 

In the summer, when Eugenie was bored at 
Saint-Cloud, she would sometimes ride, accom- 
panied only by the Princess von Metternich. 

One day, etiquette weighing heavily on her, the 
Empress again became Mile, de Montijo, and 
satisfied her democratic fancy by a drive to Paris on 
the top of an omnibus. This prank was also carried 
out in company with the Princess von Metternich. 

At times, she was sad without apparent reason, 
and had attacks of bad humour which were difficult 
to explain. 

When she received the good news about the war 
in China, she wrote : " I thought that I was no 



longer capable of feeling deeply ; but joy, like , 
sorrow, hurts when one feels exhausted." 

Another time she wrote : 

" The physicians wish to cure the body before L 
they cure the soul : this is impossible." 



IN order to drive away ennui, both sovereigns, 
for the Emperor also looked like an eternel 
ennuye, had recourse to remedies not always 
in the best of taste. It was in that way 
that the scandalous influence of the spiritualist 
Hume began at the Court. 

Hume claimed to be an American, but in all 
probability he was a German spy. He succeeded 
in becoming very intimate with the sovereigns, and, 
of course, their entourage became infatuated with 
the man who made the table dance and spirits talk. 

One day, in the presence of the sovereigns and 
the King of Bavaria, he was trying to make a table 
turn, but it remained motionless. He then 
exclaimed : " There are here two unbelievers : 
Count Walewski and the Due de Bassano. They 
must leave the room if we are to obtain any results." 
The Duke and the Count disliked Hume, and 
believed him to be a dangerous adventurer . 
he avenged himself on them. The Emperor asked 
them to go out, Hume acted, and the table turned. 

Hume asked one of the ladies : " Would you like 



to shake hands with someone whom you have loved 
or whom you have lost? ' She answered that she 
would like to shake hands with her father, and when 
told to put her hand under the table, felt the touch 
of cold fingers. Everybody, including the 
Emperor, was awestruck, while the King of 
Bavaria made the sign of the cross. 

According to Lord Malmesbury, Napoleon was 
a firm believer in spiritualism. One day he talked 
with Morny, Pietri and Malmesbury, and said that 
certain pictures in the Louvre were erroneously 
attributed to great masters. " Let us ask Hume 
to call up Titian's soul," suggested Malmesbury. 
Pietri and Morny took advantage of this ironical 
remark to chaff the Emperor's credulity, at which 
he was very displeased. 

One morning, in Fontainebleau, the Empress 
asked Hume to make a table talk ; the table re- 
mained silent, but in the meantime a storm broke 
out and hail fell heavily. Finally, the table spoke 
and said in an angry voice : " What are you doing 
here? It is Sunday, and you should be in church." 
The Empress was frightened, and went to Mass. 

Pierre de Lano tells the following story : 

" A charming man, the Marquis de B. . . ., 
took a great fancy to Hume, and begged him on 
several occasions to let him see again a woman whom 
he had loved very much and who was dead. The 
American finally consented, and one day told the 
Marquis to come to his flat. Hume ushered the 
nobleman into a room, conducted him to a couch 
and left him. 

" What happened then? The hero of this tragic 


adventure could alone answer the question, but he 
was not able to do so, for he was dead. Had the 
Marquis seen that which he desired? Or w r as he 
only the victim of a mad hallucination, and had his 
unhinged mind collapsed suddenly ? When Hume 
entered the room, the Marquis de B. . . was 
lying at the foot of the couch, lifeless. He had 
succumbed to heart-failure. 

" In the Emperor's entourage, after this 
incident, the question of putting a stop to the 
spiritualist's activity was raised, but the Empress 
intervened in favour of her protege, and Hume was 
more sought after than before. He would not leave 
the Empress ; he followed her to Saint-Cloud, to 
Biarritz, to Fontainebleau and to Compiegne, 
making tables speak and chairs dance. 

One day the Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy was 
waiting for an audience in the pink drawing-room : 
" I was waiting patiently. . . . Through the 
door I could hear laughter, exclamations followed 
by a sudden silence ; then a quick noise of feet 
running on the carpet, and muffled blows. A loud 
voice dominated the others ; I 'heard incompre- 
hensible interjections ; after a silence, the noise 
began again, and then stopped. What was 
happening there ? 

"The door opened; Mme. Aguado appeared. 
' Ah! it is you?' She closed the door, and, a 
moment later, returned. Her Majesty had been 
advised of my presence, and I could enter. '' We 
are making the table turn,' Mme. Aguado said to 
me. ' Come and join us.' And, seeing that I 
hesitated : * It is Her Majesty's wish.' I took off 


my hat and my mantle and went in. A table in the 
centre of the drawing-room ; four persons round it : 
the Emperor, the Empress, Magnesia, the 
Empress' chamberlain, Mme. Aguado. 
I was the fifth. The Empress inclined her head ; I 
felt that the Emperor looked at me . . . this 
was all. Nobody could leave their place, or raise 
their hands from the table. 

" I was familiar with table-turning, so I took off 
my gloves quickly and went to the empty space at 
the table between Mme. Aguado and Magnesia. 
Our united hands filled the table with fluid, and it 
bfgan to move. The Empress questioned : ' Are 
we in complete number this time? ' The table 
raised itself slightly and one of its legs rapped the 
floor. 'Will you talk now?' 'Yes.' The 
Empress' table was called Josephine. That day it 
was a little capricious, its language was not easily 

" The Empress seemed irritated by that long 
seance; she became seriously angry, speaking to 
Josephine harshly, asking what was the cause of its 
being continually distracted. 

" ' I am busy,' Josephine answered. 

" 'Where?'' 

'" ' At the Princess de Belgrade's.' 

" ' What are you doing? ' 

*' ' Pasqueline is being punished.' 

" Pasqueline was the Princess' eldest daughter. 
The Empress ordered a messenger to be sent imme- 
diately to the Princess' residence in order to get the 
news confirmed. We left the table, for it was 
apparently impossible to get any good news out of 



Josephine that day. The Emperor lit a cigarette 
and left us without bowing, without saying a word, 
twisting his moustache. The Empress sat in her 
low armchair and suppressed a slight yawn. 

" ' Magnesia, do amuse us,' she said to her Cham- 
berlain. At that moment I heard the barking of a 
little dog ; I turned so quickly that they all began 
to laugh. The dog varied his barking ; he was 
pleased, he was angry ; we could hear him scratching 
the floor. One moment he was in one corner, then 
in another, behind a chair, under the table. Mag- 
nesia for he it was showed off this little parlour 
trick, and, to do him justice, he did possess a great 
talent for imitating certain animals. He was very 
proud of this achievement and very much flattered 
to see us laugh heartily. 

" Then the messenger sent to the Princess de 
Belgrade's returned. Pasqueline, for some little 
piece of mischief, had been forbidden to go out. 
None of those present at the seance had had any 
communication either with the Princess or with her 
people. Let those who understand this explain 

Hume's familiarity with the Empress became so 
scandalous that a strenuous effort was made by a 
certain number of people, headed by Walewski, to 
get rid of him at any price, and one reads in the 
Count de Vieil-Castel's Memoirs the following 
paragraph : 

" The famous Hume, the man with second sight, 
the American who turned tables and the heads of 
the Parisians, who conjured up dead people before 
the Emperor and the Empress, has been sent to the 


prison of Mazas as a thief and moral leper, and 
finally expelled from France in order to avoid the 
scandal of criminal proceedings against him, in 
which so many people would be entangled." 




Empress of the French was famous 
for her rich and tasteful toilettes. 

In her early youth she was fond of 
originating startling costumes. In 
Madrid people had been content to envy her ; no 
one had dared to adopt her extravagant style. 

It was otherwise at the watering-places which she 
frequented, where clumsy imitations of the original 
Spaniard were not infrequently to be seen on the 
promenade, at the gaming-tables, or in the salons 
of the hotels. 

Her influence in Paris was apparent immediately 
on her arrival ; before it was suspected that she 
would become Napoleon's wife, the Parisian ladies 
adopted the high-heeled boot which she launched at 
the Emperor's hunting-parties ; her waistcoats were 
copied and sold in the fashionable shops. 

No sooner had Eugenie de Montijo ascended the 
throne of France than she grasped the sceptre of 
fashion as well, and became not only Empress of 
the French, but also the ruling dressmaker of the 
country nay, of the world. 


" At the commencement of the Empire," says 
Mme. Carette, " the fashions were very peculiar. 
Modern ladies of fashion who dress their slim bodies 
with skirts narrowly draped would tremble with 
horror if they had to appear in such finery as was 
then in vogue, and which was supported by a kind 
of frame with pliable steel springs, the size of which 
would scarcely admit of three women to be seated, 
or stand, at the same time, in the boudoir of a small 

This ugly contrivance was transformed by 
Eugenie, with the help of Worth, a Yorkshireman, 
into the crinoline. 

On May 17, I860, Merimee wrote : " The crino- 
line is en decadence. In two years' time the frocks 
will be so shortened that those women who have 
natural advantages will be preferred to those who 
have not." He w r as a good prophet. The crino- 
line did disappear although not so soon as he pre- 
dicted. It lasted until the reign of Eugenie her- 
self as sovereign was nearly ended. 

Helped by Mme. Virot, Eugenie also trans- 
formed hats. First, she set the neck at liberty by 
suppressing the bavelot, a stiff headgear which fell 
on, and cramped, the neck and shoulders. Then 
hats gave place to capotes a bride, a kind of 
flattened hood, which encircled the face very 

It is evident that as Eugenie's extraordinary 
career and beauty had turned on her the attention 
of the whole world, the evolution of her toilettes 
was watched and followed. 

Twice a year the Empress of the French renewed 


her frocks, and this was the origin of to-day's 
changeability of fashion, now followed slavishly by 
women. However, there was one redeeming point 
in Eugenie, which one hardly finds in any modern 
woman she was not the slave of her dressmaker. 
She was never satisfied with toilettes made accord- 
ing to the taste of shop-keepers ; she criticised, 
altered and rejected incessantly, until her good taste 
was satisfied. She would never have accepted the 
supreme argument of the modern dressmaker or 
milliner : " That is the fashion now." She was her 
own arbiter of fashion. 

She had countless conferences with Mme. Virot 
and Worth, whose career she made; he frequently 
sent her gowns that cost 100,000 or 200,000 francs, 
and made her pay as much as 50,000 francs for a 
simple little cloak. But even his creations, one 
might almost say works of art, did not content the 
Empress in their original form ; they had to be 
altered again and again, according to her directions, 
until her own correct taste, which became more and 
more developed by practice, succeeded in producing 
a perfectly harmonious effect. 

Her feminine friends and admirers followed her 
in her extravagant changeability, even if not her 
good taste. Mme. Carette says : 

" Whether at the Tuileries or any other resi- 
dence, the Empress was always dressed plainly, 
much more so than is the case in our days with very 
many young women in a far less exalted station. 
She was almost always attired in plain black faiUe. 
When driving in Paris the Empress always put on 


a very elegant mantle and a well-fitting and 
becoming hat." 

But when she received she was attired in very 
rich gowns, nearly always made of thick silk of 
Lyons manufacture. These were what the 
Empress used to call her " political toilettes," for 
by popularising them she sought to foster the pros- 
perity of the silk manufacturers. 

It would be unjust to accuse Eugenie of all the 
extravagances to which vanity has led the women 
of to-day, but it can be stated that she was respon- 
sible though indirectly for the following uses 
and abuses : 

As her hair was very beautiful and much admired, 
women asked their coiffeurs to help them to have 
similar hair, and in that way dyes for the hair were 

Then the rapacious hairdresser exhibited wigs, 
tresses, and plaits a Tlmperatnce, and false hair 
became the fashion. Chignons and Eugenie curls 
sold by the thousand. 

The Empress' wonderfully fresh complexion 
excited admiration, and in order to resemble her, 
first the ladies of the Court, later women of the 
middle classes, tried to enhance the beauty of their 
skin by injurious chemical preparations. 

Eugenie, following the Spanish custom, pencilled 
her eyebrows black, and other women did the 

As the Empress had wonderfully bright eyes, 
those women who were not similarly gifted 
employed belladonna in order to make them 


Be that as it may, the Empress of the French will 
always be remembered as a supreme ruler in the 
realms of fashion. 



EUGENIE'S ambitious aspirations had 
a higher purpose than supremacy in 
fashion. Nor was she satisfied with the 
possession of a sceptre which women 
prize above that of royalty and empire the sceptre 
of beauty. From the early days of her marriage 
she aspired to political influence in the government 
of France, and beyond France if possible. 

The detective, to whom reference has already 
been made, was a shrewd observer. Under the date 
of April 16, 1853, he wrote : *' An effort is being 
made to persuade the public that the Empress 
wields no influence over the Emperor, but it is 
generally held that, on the contrary, her influence 
is very great, and her advice is frequently taken by 

At the beginning, however, the Empress could 
not find the right road to follow, on account of the 
contrasts in her Ego, such as excessive indulgence, 
then parsimony pushed to the last limits ; geniality 

and coldness ; frivolity and severity. The result 



of this was that from 1853 to 1855 she dissatisfied 
many of her entourage. 

Her first political success, which encouraged, and 
perhaps spoiled, her, was during the Crimean war ; 
that war made for the benefit of England, and which 
brought France nothing but glory. 

A letter addressed by the Emperor of the French 
to the Tsar was a kind of ultimatum ; the ruler of 
all the Russias refused to accept it, and in a mani- 
festo to his people, issued on April 11, he violently 
accused France and England of disturbing Euro- 
pean peace, concluding as follows : 

" Governments and nations will have already 
appreciated the designs which are covered with the 
cloak of religion." 

Eugenie took advantage of the political rap- 
prochement between France and England, and 
determined to be received by Queen Victoria. 

The Count de Vieil-Castel says : 

" Queen Victoria had refused her ministers' 
suggestion that she should send a personal invita- 
tion to the Emperor and the Empress of the 
French. ' If they come to England,' she said, ' I 
will receive them officially in the best manner 
possible, but I am mistress in my own home, and 
will not be forced into receiving as intimates persons 
for whom I have personally no liking.' 

It is impossible to know whether Eugenie was 
aware of this attitude on the part of the English 
Sovereign. Probably she was, but refused to be 
rebuffed, and used the weight of politics in order 
to be received by Queen Victoria, whose reputation 
as a good wife and devoted mother was universal. 


She fully realized that if she could gain the favour 
of the Queen of England, her past life would be the 
more easily forgotten and her position at other 
courts improved. 

A minister was sent to England, officially to 
negotiate the conditions of peace between the 
Powers, but at the same time he had received orders 
to settle all points of etiquette in connection with 
the proposed visit. 

It was on April 16, 1855, that Napoleon, wearing 
the uniform of a divisional general, and the Empress 
a straw bonnet and gray cloak, under which could 
be seen the rich colours of a tartan dress, landed on 
the English coast, and continued their journey to 
London in the company of Prince Albert. 

One reads in the Times of April 16 the following 
leading article : 

" It is not merely a great potentate like the late 
Emperor of Russia, or a king like Louis Philippe, 
who professed to cultivate a personal intimacy with 
the Queen of England and her family, that the 
ancient halls of Windsor will this day receive. 
Louis Napoleon returns to this country elected to 
supreme power by 8,000,000 Frenchmen, holding 
in a steady grasp that sceptre which has so often 
slipped from the hands of the sagacious and the 
strong, and using the power of France for purposes 
and objects identical with our own. 

" His person, his habits, and the incidents of his 
life are familiar to all of us. The Empress Eugenie, 
like himself, has mingled in English society ; she 
received her education in England, and is herself the 
daughter of an old Scottish house, which connects 


her more nearly with the people of Great Britain 
than if her pedigree was derived from the Haps- 
burgs or the Bourbons." 

But not all the English papers were as laudatory 
as the Times, and Eugenie complained of it to 
Queen Victoria, only to be told that it could not be 
helped, for the press was free in England. There 
were also discordant voices raised in Parliament, 
and a member of the Opposition, Roebuck by 
name, objected to Queen Victoria giving the 
brotherly accolade to the French sovereign. 

On the other hand, the populace of London re- 
ceived the French sovereigns warmly. The Earl 
of Malmesbury wrote in his diary under the date of 
April 16, 1855 : " On going up St. James's Street, 
the Emperor was seen to point out to the Empress 
the house where he formerly lived in King Street. 
This was at once understood by the crowd, 
who cheered louder than ever." 

The official reception was a splendid one. The 
Queen invested Napoleon with the Order of the 
Garter, and after the ceremony there was a banquet 
at Windsor Castle, during which the famous service 
of gold plate was used. There was also a gala per- 
formance of " Fidelio," and a verse complimentary 
to Napoleon introduced into the National Anthem 
read as follows : 

Emperor and Empress, 

O Lord, be pleased to bless ; 

Look on this scene ! 
And may we ever find, 
With bonds of peace entwin'd, 
England and France combined, 

God Save the Queen ! 


Queen Victoria's greeting was apparently a very 
warm one, for Lord Malmesbury, who was able to 
look behind the scenes of official life, wrote : " The 
Queen had arranged everything herself made out 
the list of invitations for both parties at Windsor 
and the concert at Buckingham Palace." 

The Queen and the Empress conversed 
intimately, and the English sovereign was entirely 
won over by the grace, amiability and respectful 
deference displayed by the former star of fashion- 
able watering-places. 

It was also then that Eugenie's ambitious designs 
to become Regent were first disclosed, for she told 
Queen Victoria that she was very anxious for her 
consort to take command of the French army in 
the East, as General Pelissier's activity was not 
satisfactory. " I do not see," she said, " that 
there is greater danger for him there than in any 
other place." Lord Clarendon, however, con- 
vinced Napoleon of the necessity of remaining in 

The day of their arrival in London, the French 
sovereigns were going to be received by the Queen 
before dinner. Shortly before their departure for 
Buckingham Palace, the Empress found that the 
box containing her toilette for the occasion had not 
come. She grew angry and cried like a child 
she wished, at the last moment, to say that 
she was not well, which would not have been a very 
plausible excuse. Finally, one of her ladies-in- 
waiting came to her rescue, offering the Empress 
her own toilette ; it was a very simple frock, but it 
saved the situation. 


Naturally, the English courtiers, accustomed to 
the refinement of an old and polished court, noticed 
the slightest mistake or awkwardness in the new 
French sovereign, and the story is told that the 
difference between the two sovereigns, one par- 
venue and the other of old lineage, was shown in a 
small incident : when the Queen and the Empress 
arrived at the Royal box at the Opera, the Empress 
of the French turned and looked to see whether her 
chair was there, while the Queen sat down without 
looking, knowing that her chair must be there. 

At all events, Eugenie was so charming to every- 
body that Lord Malmesbury was able to write : 
" Lord Adolphus told me that the leave-taking this 
morning, when the Emperor and Empress of the 
French left, was most touching. Everybody cried, 
even the suite. The Queen's children began, as the 
Empress had been very kind to them and they were 
sorry to lose her." 

Eugenie's sojourn at the English Court produced 
a deep impression on her ; she learned then that the 
attraction of a Court should not be mainly founded 
on outward appearances, on extravagance and 
glitter ; she could see that notwithstanding the 
apparent rigidity of etiquette, life at Court could 
be easy and home-like. The consequence of this 
was that she, who disliked the stiffness of the 
etiquette insisted upon by her consort, became very 
severe in her demands for its observance. Unfor- 
tunately, she exaggerated, and, as the Count de 
Vieil-Castel puts it, " mistook correctness and a 
dignified mien for haughtiness and rigidity." 

On May 15, 1855, the Emperor and the Empress 


of the French opened the great Paris Exhibition, 
the first of those international and cosmopolitan 
fairs. Eugenie anticipated a great social triumph 
from the Royal and princely visits on this occasion, 
but she was bitterly disappointed. The daughters 
of kings looked down on her and showed it. 

The visit of the Queen of England, however, 
acted as balm. Not since the days of Louis XIV. 
had a foreign queen visited France, and it was four 
hundred years since an English sovereign had been 
in Paris. Queen Victoria was received with an 
enthusiasm which it would be difficult to describe. 
The interest taken in the English sovereign's arrival 
was so great that 80 were paid for balconies on the 
route of the cortege. 

The day of the arrival of Queen Victoria 
August 18, 1855 was the fete of St. Helena. 
Queen Victoria seized this golden opportunity of 
visiting Napoleon's tomb. It was an opportune 
moment for exclaiming with Racine : " Et quel 
temps jut jamais plus fertile en miracles! ' 

Queen Victoria was pleased with her enthusiastic 
welcome by the Parisians, for she wrote : *' Imagine 
these high houses and broad streets decorated in 
the most charming manner with banners, flags, 
triumphal arches, flowers and brightly illuminated 
inscriptions, crowded with people, and lined with 
well-ordered, enthusiastic soldiers, among whom 
the National Guard, the troops of the line, and the 
Chasseurs d'Afrique presented a varied spectacle. 
Unceasing were the shouts of Vive la Heine 
d'Angleterre! ViveVEmpereur! Vive le Prince 


In return for Queen Victoria's hospitality at 
Windsor, Napoleon gave a ball at Versailles, which 
surpassed any entertainment given since the days 
of Louis XIV. 

The Empress, who looked brilliantly beautiful at 
the ball, had, however, been little seen during the 
public festivities; she alleged indisposition, but it 
was merely an able manoeuvre on her part, for in 
that manner she became all the more intimate with 
Queen Victoria in the home circle, where inter- 
course was made as genial as possible. 

Napoleon and Prince Albert sang duets ; the 
Queen sketched in the environs of Saint-Cloud, and 
often found her way to Eugenie's private apart- 
ment, where the two sovereigns sat together and 
talked confidentially for hours at a time. 

Queen Victoria, describing her visit to Napo- 
leon's tomb, wrote : " . . . I stood at the arm 
of Napoleon III., his nephew, before the coffin of 
England's bitterest foe; I, the grand-daughter of 
that king who hated him the most, and who most 
vigorously opposed him, and this very nephew, who 
bears his name, being my nearest and dearest ally ! 
The organ of the church was playing ' God save the 
Queen ' at the time, and this solemn scene took 
place by torchlight, and during a thunder-storm. 
Strange and wonderful indeed. It seems as if, in 
this tribute of respect to a departed and dead foe, 
old enmities and rivalries were wiped out, and the 
seal of Heaven placed upon that bond of unity 
which is now happily established between two great 
and powerful nations. May Heaven bless and 
prosper it ! ' 


In token of her friendship, the Empress gave the 
Queen her fan, and to Princess Victoria a bracelet 
set with diamonds and rubies round a medallion in 
which was placed a lock of Eugenie's hair. 

The Royal family left Paris on August 27, and, 
so we are told, there were tears again, this time shed 
by Princess Victoria, who had become very fond of 




EUGENIE thought that the Exhibition of 
1855 would bring to the Tuileries a host 
of illustrious visitors. It is true that 
Victor Emmanuel and the Duke of 
Brabant were received by the French sovereigns, 
but only the Queens of England and Spain came 

Towards the end of 1857 Napoleon III. went to 
Stuttgart to meet the Tsar. The Empress of the 
French had hoped that the Tsarina would also 
come, and that she would become as friendly with 
her as with the Queen of England. At her instiga- 
tion there was a correspondence between the 
Russian and French chancelleries, but the result 
was negative. Eugenie therefore went to Spain 

Napoleon, accompanied by Generals de Monte- 
bello, de Failly, Fleury and Espinasse, his aides- 
de-camp, and Prince Joachim Murat as orderly 
officer, went to Stuttgart and met the Tsar. A 
few days later the Tsarina came also, and Napoleon 
III. was presented to her. 



While the Emperor was at the camp at 
Boulogne, he received the King of the Belgians, the 
King of Portugal and Prince Albert, and it was 
whispered then that they all came at that time 
because the Empress was away. 

On January 14, 1858, Orsini attempted to 
assassinate the Emperor and his consort while they 
were on their way to the Opera for the performance 
of Mary Stuart and William Tell, in which Ristori 
was appearing. 

Lord Malmesbury writes : " An infamous 
attempt was made on the 14th to assassinate the 
Emperor Napoleon. Three grenades were thrown 
at his carriage as it stopped at the door of the Opera 
House, and all exploded, shattering the carriage, 
killing the horses and wounding a great number of 
persons, but the Emperor and Empress were 

Orsini had awaited his opportunity for a long 
time, following the Emperor about on horseback, 
and nobody suspected that this elegant horseman 
was at the head of a dastardly plot. At his lodgings 
at No. 10 rue du Mont-Tabor, Orsini himself dried 
the gunpowder for his grenades before his fireplace, 
risking being blown up if a single spark reached it. 
On January 14, at eight o'clock in the evening, 
he went out, followed by his three accomplices, 
Pieri, Rudio and Gomez, each of them carrying a 
bomb, while Orsini had two. When the Sove- 
reigns arrived at the Opera, three bombs were 
thrown under the carriage in which they were 
seated. One of the horses was killed, the carriage 
badly damaged, and more than a hundred and fifty 


people were wounded. Napoleon's hat was pierced 
and the Empress' frock was stained with blood. 

Eugenie showed remarkable courage, saying to 
those surrounding her : " Do not bother your- 
selves about us ; it is our trade ; take care of the 
wounded. ' ' The two Sovereigns, admirable in their 
sang-froid, entered the Opera. 

Ristori remembered that historical evening for 
ever, and said afterwards : " I was acting in Mary 
Stuart, and had reached the line ' The arm of the 
assassin is my only and terrible terror,' when the 
Emperor gave me a look which I will never forget." 

Orsini was not a vulgar murderer. A disciple 
of Mazzini, he was passionate in his love for Italy, 
and he thought that Napoleon's death would bring 
about a revolution in France, the repercussion of 
which in Italy would set his beloved land free. 

We read in Lord Malmesbury's Memoirs : 
" Twenty-seven persons are arrested, all of them 
Italian. Orsini, the chief, was himself severely 
wounded, which prevented his escaping, and led to 
apprehension. His servant foolishly went about 
inquiring after his master, and when asked his 
name, fainted. On his recovery he was threatened 
with arrest if he did not give his address. He did 
so, and the gendarme went to his house and found 
Orsini in his bed, with a severe wound in the head. 
On seeing them he exclaimed : ' I am lost ! ' and 
then attempted to pass himself off as an English- 
man, but his accent betrayed him." 

The Count de Vieil-Castel has some interesting 
lines on the Empress' attitude towards Orsini and 
his accomplices : 


" The Empress has truly lost her mind ; she cried 
and begged on her knees for his pardon. She 
admires Orsini, and she said : ' Orsini did not wish 
to murder the Emperor of the French, but the 
friend of the Emperor of Austria.' The Cardinal- 
Archbishop of Bordeaux said to her : * My priestly 
garments and my white hairs prompt me to be 
clement, but my conscience tells me justice should 
follow its course.' 

General Espinasse, the Home Secretary, said to 
her : ' It is not your affair, madam ; let us do our 
duty, and do yours. If you are unfortunate enough 
to obtain Orsini 's pardon, you will not be able to 
go out in the streets of Paris without being hooted 
at. . . . You do wonderful things with your 
clemency ; you obtained from the Emperor an order 
that a certain cabinet-maker, whom I kept under 
lock and key, should be released. Do you know 
who that man is ? He is the assassin of the Opera 
Comique plot." 

And then in another place : 

" The most inconceivable words pronounced by 
the Empress were these : ' It was the exaltation of 
generous sentiments which made Orsini an assassin. 
He loves freedom passionately, and he hates the 
oppressors of his country. I remember well how 
we in Spain hated the French after the wars of the 
First Empire! ' " 

Lord Malmesbury, whose Memoirs are intensely 
interesting because they are so personal and sincere, 
says : 

" I was much amused at overhearing a conversa- 
tion between Persigny and Sir George Lewis on the 


subject of the attempt on Louis Napoleon. Sir 
George affirmed that the cause of the attempt was 
the occupation of Rome by the French. Persigny 
replied : ' If we were not there, the Austrians 
would be.' 

" The other answered : 

" * In that case, the Emperor of Austria would 
have been assassinated.' 

" Persigny, at this, got into a towering passion, 
and said that the cases were quite different : the 
Emperor of Austria had two hundred heirs to the 
Crown, while the Emperor of the French had only 

" I tried to appease him, for he was in a perfect 
fury, and accompanied him into one of the outer 
rooms, where we sat talking for half-an-hour." 

Jules Favre, who defended Orsini, ended his 
defence with the following words : " God will judge 
this man, and perhaps He will grant him the pardon 
refused by the judges of this world." 

Orsini, before putting his head under the knife 
of the guillotine, shouted : " Vive 1'Italie ! " and 
the crowd, troubled and thoughtful, broke up in 

It is a curious fact that Orsini 's father acted as 
Napoleon's godfather on the Emperor's initiation 
into the Society of the Carbonari. 



EUGENIE'S influence during the Italian 
war was deplorable. At the beginning 
she did everything in her power to pre- 
vent Napoleon from helping the 
Italians. She consoled herself by being appointed 
Regent, an honour which she desired ardently. 
Then, she was instrumental in preventing the 
Emperor from completing the independence of the 
Latin nation, which was only half realized. The 
Italians had expected more ; dissatisfaction sup- 
planted their gratitude, and France's ambiguous 
policy deprived her of a powerful ally in the future. 
The Count de Vieil-Castel censured Napoleon for 
his attitude, saying : " He deceived Austria at 
Villafranca, the Church by the Italian campaign, 
Russia after the Crimean War, and now he tries to 
avert the revolution." 

The Italian war was caused by that great patriot 
and crafty diplomatist, Cavour. Napoleon was in 
favour of Italian independence, not only because of 
his former association with the Carbonari, but also 



because of his ideal of nationality, which was one 
of the principal characteristics of his policy. 

" I cannot be in conflict with Austria just 
now," said Cavour, " but be at ease, for I have 
a presentiment that the present peace will not last 

Cavour was the principal advocate of the mar- 
riage of Prince Napoleon with Princess Clotilde, 
Victor-Emmanuel's daughter, for he firmly be- 
lieved that this union would be the best guarantee 
of the alliance between the two nations. 

Eugenie did not grasp the situation, and by her 
lack of tact hurt the feelings of the pious and austere 
princess of the ancient House of Savoy, even to the 
extent of provoking the princess into exclaiming : 
" Madam, you forget that I was born at a Court ! ' 

Cavour spurred on Napoleon, and as public 
opinion was in favour of the war, the Emperor put 
himself at the head of the army, and made the 
Empress Regent. In this connection there was 
a lively dispute between them, Eugenie bitterly 
opposing Napoleon's plan to make ex-King Jerome 
Governor of Paris and Commander-in-Chief of the 
National Guard. She declared she would never 
accept a disarmed Regency, and eventually carried 
her point. This attitude shows how ardently she 
desired absolute power. 

On May 10, 1859, the Emperor left the Tuileries, 
with the Empress seated on his left. " Our poor 
Empress' eyes are as large as eggs," wrote 
Merimee, " and she shed more tears while taking 
leave of the departing regiments." 

Lord Malmesburv wrote : " I had a conversation 


of above an hour with the Empress on politics, 
chiefly on the Roman question. Thou venal had 
just been dismissed as being too anti-Papal, and as 
leaning to the abandonment of his Holiness, and 
Drouyn de ITIuys lias replaced him. The Empress 
did not, as I expected, treat the subject as a devote, 
though she said that no scandal could be greater 
than an exiled Pope with no foot of earth belonging 
independently to himself, and that the honour of 
France was engaged to protect him from being 
driven out of Rome ; that, if he were, the Austrians 
would come to his rescue and France have no right 
to prevent it, as, by the Treaty of Zurich with 
Austria, the Pope was to be maintained ; that the 
Italians should be satisfied for the time with what 
they had got, and not attempt impossibilities, but 
organise what they possessed ; that there was no 
such thing in Italy as an organising mind or a man 
of business." 

The Empress of the French failed to appreciate 
Cavour's craftiness. The proper course for the 
Emperor of the French was either to prevent Italy 
from forming a powerful kingdom , or to help her to 
the end unreservedly. " You are Mazzini's 
slave ! " she said angrily one day to her consort. 

Count Walewski alone was against Napoleon's 
Italian policy, being perspicacious enough to see 
that the unification of the kingdom would make of 
it a force with which France must reckon. 

The Emperor returned from Italy in July, and 
the festivities began. Troplong, for once not too 
adroit a courtier, compared Napoleon to Scipio, to 
which the Emperor said : " That devil of a Trop- 


long embarrasses me with his comparison." The 
Empress began to laugh, and an officer rejoined : 
" It is the greatest praise one could bestow upon a 
husband, for Scipio was the most continent man of 
his time." 

From all appearances, the Empress' idea of her 
own importance became very inflated. Taxile 
Delord says of her : " The Empress, since she 
ascended the throne, has assumed the role of pro- 
tector of the ultramontane pretensions. Being 
little prepared by her worldly past to understand 
religious questions, she has treated them with the 
awkward zeal of an ignorant woman and a fanatical 

Napoleon, pushed on the one hand by the 
partisans of Italy, and on the other by his wife, dis- 
satisfied everybody, including the Holy Father. 

Though she considered herself a master mind in 
politics, neither Eugenie nor those who surrounded 
her understood that France should look askance at 
the increasing power of Prussia. 

Already in 1855, it was evident that Bismarck 
was urging the policy of his country towards the 
unity of Germany, and planning the war against 

Towards the end of 1856, Prince Frederick 
William, returning from London with Moltke, was 
received magnificently at the Tuileries. It was 
then that Moltke, trying to see the truth under the 
false brilliancy of the Second Empire, wrote : 
" The Empress speaks with animation and much 
freedom, and her manners are such that one is 
astonished to find them in so exalted a place." He 


also noticed that the French barracks were badly 
kept, that the French soldiers marched badly, and 
handled their rifles negligently. 

The Countess von Hat/leldt, daughter of 
Marshal de Castellane, wrote : 

" We have been again invited to dine at the 
Tuileries. The Prince has left Paris and I believe 
he must be satisfied with that which he has seen 

In 1862 Bismarck left the German Embassy in 
St. Petersburg and came to Paris, where he 
thought he could serve his country better. He fre- 
quented the drawing-room of the Countess 
Walewska assiduously, and tried hard to make her 
speak about political matters, thinking that she 
would commit some indiscretion, but his cunning 
efforts were in vain ; she was too intelligent to be 
caught even by the foxy Bismarck. Count 
Walewski was against the policy of Prussia for the 
same reasons that he opposed that of Italy. 

In June of 1867 a coach stopped in the courtyard 
of Saint-Cloud to change horses. In that vehicle 
there were : The Emperor of the French, the Tsar 
of All the Russias, the King of Prussia, the 
Empress, Bismarck and a lady of the Palace. The 
Prussians were getting ready for the campaign of 

Mme. Carette wrote in her Memoirs : " General 
Blumenthal, while visiting in England, was hunting 
with Lord Albemarle, who expressed the desire to 
go to Berlin in order to be present at the manoeuvres 
of the Prussian army. ' Do not take that trouble,' 
replied the Prussian general. * Soon we will give 


for your benefit a grand review in the Champ de 
Mars in Paris.' " 

The writing was on the wall, but the Empress of 
the French and her followers saw fit to ridicule the 
King of Prussia, and to laugh at the Germans. 




first important proof of Eugenie's 
disastrous policy of mixing in affairs of 
State was the Mexican war. 

The Due de Moray inspired it, while 
the Empress of the French and the Princess von 
Metternich, both under the influence of ambitious 
and romantic ideas, were the promoters of that 
deplorable Mexican affair, in which the chivalrous 
Maximilian found death and his wife madness, in 
which many thousands of Frenchmen were killed, 
210,000,000 francs lost, and the honour of France 

It is difficult to pick up again all the lost threads 
of this drama, the last act of which was played at 

Numerous Mexican families, ruined by continual 
civil wars, left the unfortunate country. These 
refugees, Spaniards, English and French, united 
their claims and persuaded their respective Govern- 
ments to intervene. A conference was held in 
London, and Mexico promised to pay the claims. 
Time rolled on, civil war continued, and the 



Mexican Government, finally, declared that it was 
not in a position to keep its promises. 

France, England and Spain agreed on a united 
demonstration to force the Mexicans to fulfil their 
agreement. Admiral Jurien de la Graviere com- 
manded the French fleet, with unlimited power to 
act as military chief and minister plenipotentiary, 
Dubois de Saligny being specially appointed to 
negotiate a settlement. A Spanish fleet arrived at 
Vera Cruz, but the English, preoccupied by 
American complications, hesitated, and then did 
not second their allies whole-heartedly. Sub- 
sequently, England and Spain withdrew, leaving 
the French to themselves. 

The growing complications in Mexico caused 
Napoleon much anxiety. " Would to God the 
Emperor had renounced this unfortunate expedi- 
tion ! ' exclaimed the beautiful Mile. Bouvet, 
afterwards Mme. Carette. But fate willed other- 
wise, and General Forey was appointed com- 
mander-in-chief of the French Army. 

At the beginning of the hostilities numerous 
bulletins announced brilliant victories. Subse- 
quently the news was bad. The French cor- 
respondent of the Independance Beige wrote on 
February 27, 1806 : " The news received from 
Mexico by the steamer Vera Cruz is hardly satis- 
factory. The guerillas have reappeared on the 
great lines of communication. The Mexican clergy 
is hostile to the Catholic Emperor Maximilian/' 

Mme. Carette gives us an example of Eugenie's 
extreme sensibility. The news reached Saint- 
Cloud that General de Galiffet, wounded in the 


stomach at the battle of Puebla, had dragged him- 
self to an ambulance with his kepi over the wound. 
The surgeon declared he could save the general's 
life on condition that ice was kept constantly 
applied to his wound. A second despatch stated 
that as there was no ice, Galiffet's life was at stake. 
This news was received at the moment when ices 
were being served at the Imperial table. 

' I could not eat an ice," said the Empress, 
" when I think that we may lose a brave officer 
because they are short of ice out there." And as 
long as Galiffet's life was in danger, Eugenie did 
not touch them. 

Maximilian's power was illusive ; his influence 
existed only as long as he was backed by the French 
troops. The war dragged on, public opinion in 
France became restless, and Napoleon at last with- 
drew the Army, notwithstanding Bazaine's protest. 

A contemporary wrote : " Sadness mingled with 
irony takes hold of one when one thinks of the six 
collars of the new Order of the Eagle of Mexico, 
created by the Emperor Maximilian, which were 
sent to the Emperor of the French, the Emperor 
of Austria, the Kings of Sweden, Italy and the 

The Shakespeare of the future will find abundant 
material in the nineteenth century for inspiration 
for his tragedies. 

Since ancient times, when CEdipus' destiny in- 
spired the master of Greek tragedy, history has no 
more gloomy and tragic events than those which 
concern Rudolf, Archduke of Austria ; Louis II. 
of Bavaria, drowned by the blackguard bruvi of a 


great minister ; Alexander II. of Russia, blown to 
pieces by the Nihilists ; Maximilian of Mexico, 
abandoned light-heartedly by a dreamer who suc- 
ceeded in becoming Emperor, and was punished at 
Sedan for his treacherous conduct, while his con- 
sort, prime instigator of this terrible affair, mourned 
during long years the loss of her only son. Bazaine 
was punished still more severely, when, after the 
fall of Metz, the word traitor was for ever attached 
to his name. 

Maximilian fell into the hands of Juares, that 
ambitious barbarian whose power had collapsed on 
the royal martyr's arrival in Mexico, and on the 
morning of the 19th of June he was shot. 

"Shoot boldly! " he cried to the firing-party, 
' ' and may my blood be the last to be shed for this 
unfortunate country ! ' 

These were his last words. He died nobly like 
a Prince, a Christian and a soldier. 

When the news of this terrible crime reached 
Paris it caused deep emotion among the people, and 
with that clairvoyance which the masses sometimes 
show, they threw the whole responsibility for it on 
the Empress. 

Napoleon, summoning to his cabinet Hyrvoix, 
the chief of the secret police, asked him what the 
country thought, and what the people said. ; * Sire, 
they say nothing." 

" You are hiding something from me; I wish to 
know what the people say." 

" Sire . . . Sire . . . under Louis XVI. 
they said : * It is the fault of the Austrian 
woman.' " 


" Yes, well, and to-day? " 

" To-day . . . they say . . . it is the 
fault of the Spanish woman." 

Suddenly a door opened violently, and the 
Empress rushed in. The Emperor was already 
spied upon constantly, and could conceal nothing. 

" Repeat. Repeat to me what you said ! " she 
exclaimed to the detective. 

After a moment's hesitation, Hyrvoix said : 
' The Emperor wished to know what the public 
opinion was, and I considered it my duty to tell 
him. The Parisians speak of ' the Spanish woman,' 
as formerly they spoke of * the Austrian woman.' 

" Spanish woman. . . . Spanish woman !' 
almost screamed Eugenie. " I became a French 
woman, but I can show my foes that I can again be 
a Spaniard ! ' 

She disappeared as quickly as she had entered. 
The detective bent his head ; Napoleon took him 
by the hand and said : " You have done your 
duty ! ' This, however, did not prevent him from 
being dismissed from his post. The Empress pre- 
vailed upon her consort, as she did always, and 
avenged herself in true Spanish fashion. 

" The French expedition to Mexico and its 
tragical end are a sad blot on Louis Napoleon," 
wrote Lord Malmesbury. 

Yes, the checkmating of France was the check- 
mating of Austria, and the checkmating of Austria 
was followed by her defeat at Sadowa . 
Sadowa prepared the way for Sedan. 




ROCHEFORT had written in the Lan- 
terne: " The Empress has already 
taken hold of the Regency while the 
poor Emperor is still alive." 

This was literally true, for Napoleon was both 
physically and morally used up. Physically he was 
suffering from gravel, morally because of constant 
quarrels with his consort. 

Continual scenes with the Empress, her bitter 
reproaches, her fits of anger lasting several days, 
rancours which persisted for several months, 
blunted Napoleon's strength of character. 

Eugenie's influence became more and more pre- 
ponderant. Napoleon, feeble and sick, was to be 
a plaything in her hands ; she knew his weak 
points : he was afraid of scenes and preferred to 
give in. 

In 1865, Napoleon, being already attacked by 
the malady which was to annihilate his physical 
and moral forces, make him the prey of the 
Empress' faction, and ultimately bring him to the 
grave, decided to go to Algeria, where he expected 

1 66 


to find not only alleviation for his suffering, but 
also a little of that peace of mind which he needed 
so much. 

Before leaving, he entrusted Eugenie with the 
government of France, and made her Regent. 
Henceforth, she, seconded by the " Vice- 
Emperor," Rouher, was to produce and direct the 
events which destroyed the Empire and nearly 
annihilated France. 

She was initiated into all State affairs, all pro- 
jects were submitted to her, and her political in- 
fluence became very great indeed. 

The Count de Vieil-Castel wrote in 1861 : " The 
Empress plays towards the Emperor the same 
role that Mme. du Barry played towards Louis 
XV. ; she makes friends with the women favoured 
by Napoleon, she fosters their commerce with her 
consort, she pushes them into his arms in order to 
obtain through them more influence. The Coun- 
tess Walewska, sultane valide, is constantly with 
her; the Countess de la Bedoyere is well received, 
as well as the daughter of the painter Pomeyrac, 
who had twenty thousand francs from the Emperor 
the other day." 

Then again : " The Countess Walewska, wife of 
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is the Emperor's 
favourite at present. The Empress cannot live 
without her, and Walewski revels in his newly- 
found power." 

Some time later : " Mme. Walewska is no longer 
in favour with the Empress, who is marvellously 
cold towards her, but en revanche Her Majesty 
patronises an American to whom the Emperor has 


paid great attention, but who comes from nobody 
knows where. She is invited to the small gather- 
ings, and the caillettes think her charming. The 
Empress does not fancy French Society, although 
she was not so particular in her choice before her 
ascent to the throne." 

The Empress gave proofs of energy while ruling 
the country. " We now have an Empress' govern- 
ment," wrote Rochefort, " and I beg you to 
believe that it is neither less despotic, nor less 
ferocious." The first difficulty she encountered 
during her regency was the cabmen's strike. She 
summoned to the Tuileries the War Minister, who 
came to an understanding with the cab companies, 
and the Parisians were delighted next day to see 
the cabs out again, driven by the gunners. 

One day she brusquely asked a member of the 
Opposition : " What is the reform now most de- 
sired by the people? ' 

" Madam, it is the freedom of the press," was 
the precise answer. 

She made a gesture of irritation, and rejoined : 

" If one allowed the papers to say everything 
they liked, the government would be insulted and 
calumniated. Every day they reproach the 
Emperor with the Coup d'Etat of December 2, and 
the press must be controlled until December 2 has 
been forgotten." 

Wishing to introduce certain reforms, she 
appointed a Commission, in which the Opposition 
leader, Emile Ollivier, was included. During one 
meeting at the Tuileries a violent gust of wind 
forced open a window. The Empress went to shut 


it, and Ollivier came to her help, saying : " Let us 
hope, madam, that our united efforts will be able 
to cope with the human torrent as successfully as 
they have coped with the elements." Ollivier 
already foresaw the catastrophe. 

While the Empress held the reins of government, 
Napoleon wrote to her that he was getting well in 
Algeria. As a matter of fact, the malady which 
ultimately caused the death of both Emperor and 
Empire was making dire progress. In the place of 
his authority there rose another. His friends 
warned Napoleon against that overwhelming influ- 
ence of an authoritative and insufficiently en- 
lightened woman. The faithful Persigny made a 
great effort to open the Emperor's eyes, but he was 
already too feeble to make an effort of will. 

From that division of power there resulted fatal 
chaos. Nobody knew what to do, or which party 
to follow. A contemporary politician said : " The 
Emperor is groping in darkness. He does not back 
up Poland in order not to hurt Russia. He has 
allowed himself to be cheated by Bismarck, who 
had ceded the right bank of the Rhine to him in 
exchange for the promise that he would not uphold 
Austria. He gave up Mexico because he was afraid 
of the United States. He withdrew his soldiers 
from Rome because he was frightened of Mazzini 
and of the revolution. He has invented that 
elastic formula: watchful neutrality." 

Napoleon committed an irreparable mistake in 
permitting Austria to be crushed by Prussia. An 
army corps sent towards the Rhine would have 
been sufficient to prevent Sadowa, which prepared 


the unity of Germany. The satisfaction of getting 
Venetia and giving it to Italy was illusory and vain, 
for Italy felt humiliated at receiving it in that 

The Queen of Holland showed great political 
wisdom when she wrote : " With Venetia once 
ceded, the only thing to do was to help Austria, to 
march towards the Rhine and impose conditions. 
To allow Austria to be crushed was more than a 
crime; it was a mistake." 

The Emperor, accompanied by his consort, 
visited the Emperor of Austria in August. While 
travelling through Germany they were well re- 
ceived by the German kings and princes. 

The interview between Francis-Joseph and 
Napoleon was very hearty. The Count von Beust, 
who worked hard after Sadowa to restore the pres- 
tige of Austria, wished this exchange of politenesses 
to lead to a serious alliance between Austria and 
France, an alliance which would have stopped the 
dangerous unification of Germany. 

Hearing of the Count von Beust 's plans, 
Eugenie said in that peremptory tone which she 
had assumed since taking an active part in the 
government : " Monsieur de Beust is in too great 
a hurry to close the deal." The Count von Beust 
was hurt, became cool, and the interview brought 
no result. 

The Due de Morny's death was a blow to the 
Empire. He was a son of Hortense and de 
Flahaut. An obscure Auvergnat called Demorny 
gave him his name when his birth was registered. 
Morny succeeded entirely through his own efforts, 


for he was intelligent and daring. He speculated 
and made a big fortune. 

When he learned that he was so nearly related 
to Louis Napoleon, he was already somebody. He 
supported his brother's policy and helped him 
greatly with his enterprising and inventive mind. 
He was the best man Napoleon had among his 
followers. It was he who, speaking of the 
Orleanists, said those very true words : " They 
dare not seize their swords, nor put their hands into 
their pockets; we will do without them." 

Morny was a genius for business. Being un- 
scrupulous, he entered into financial combinations 
which were not always above suspicion. He con- 
ducted both his private and political affairs boldly, 
and left twelve millions to his children. 

He was intransigeant in politics, in which he saw 
further than the Emperor, for he said : " The day 
Germany believes that there is a serious accord 
between France and Russia, she will pass through 
the eye of a needle." It was a pity that the 
Emperor did not think seriously over those words. 
Notwithstanding his faults, Morny was the only 
man who had a clear perception of the situation. 

The next man of importance in regard to political 
wisdom was Niel, but his shouts of alarm remained 
vox clamantis in dcscrto ; he was not listened to. 

April ], 18P>7, witnessed the opening of a second 
exhibition in Paris, when crowds again assembled 
from every corner of the globe, and Paris, to quote 
a contemporary, became Vauberge du mondc. 
Apparently the Empire had lost none of its 
brilliancy ! 


One fete followed closely on another, and royal 
visitors arrived in rapid succession. Among the 
guests of the Tuileries were twelve Emperors and 
Kings, six ruling princes, one viceroy, and nine 

There was a grand and imposing spectacle at 
Longchamps, when the garrison of Paris was 
passed in review. Eugenie sat at the saluting 
point, and the monarchs rode up to pay their re- 
spects. Alexander of Russia and William of 
Prussia kissed her hand. 

" The grand-daughter of the tradesman Kirk- 
patrick, the daughter of the frivolous Manuela de 
Montijo, received before the eyes of the French 
people the most respectful homage of the mightiest 
princes of Europe. She was proud, and with good 
cause ! ' 

When the prizes of the Exhibition were to be 
distributed by the Prince Imperial as President, 
there were among the distinguished guests : The 
Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince of Prussia, the 
Crown Prince of Italy, the Duke of Aosta, the 
Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, the Sultan Abdul 
Aziz, his son and his nephews. 

The Emperor of the French, being already 
seriously ill, was not able to take advantage of the 
presence of so many sovereigns in his capital, to 
discuss questions which might have helped him to 
look in a proper light on the forthcoming events. 

The Empress, we are told, introduced inter- 
national questions into her conversation in such a 
muddled and superficial manner that she still 
further entangled the skein. 


Bismarck's mind was made up when he left Paris. 
William still hesitated, while Alexander left dis- 
satisfied. An alliance with Russia would have 
changed the whole aspect of political affairs in 1870. 
Moray was right ! 



WHEN the glare and glamour of the 
Exhibition had passed, the popu- 
larity of the Empress was also on 
the wane. The revolution on the 
other side of the Pyrenees which had forced 
Isabella from her throne found a responsive echo 
in France, where threatening clouds were be- 
ginning to darken the horizon. 

Merimee wrote : " Everyone is afraid, without 
knowing why ; there is universal uneasiness. It is 
a sensation similar to that caused by Mozart's 
music, when the Commander is about to appear. 
However, Bismarck, who is the Commander, will 
not appear, and the talk of a war is not serious. 

" If you read over Parliamentary speeches, you 
will find that there is much eloquence, still more 
passion and very little in the way of political ideas ; 
on the other hand, there is a villainous revolu- 
tionary breeze to be felt, and it makes one very 

The royalist party became active. The Marquise 
de la Rochelambert, replying to someone who ex- 



pressed surprise that a Royalist should call on the 
Emperor, said : " He was right to go to the 
Tuileries. After all, the Bonapartes are only 
camping there, and we have a right to visit our 

The Empress was tired of the strife, of the up- 
roar created by the general election campaigns, of 
the vituperative articles published by Rochefort, 
and even of the new amusements invented by her 
bosom friend the ugly Princess von Metternich. 
She took advantage of the opportunity offered to 
her by her cousin, Ferdinand de Lesseps, who 
asked her to open the Sue/ Canal, which he had 
succeeded in building through her influence. 

Rochefort wrote : " The Empress' voyage to the 
Holy Land will cost five million francs. In this 
way our ladies of the Parisian world imitate Jesus 
Christ, Who was born in a manger. . . . They 
say that at the opening of the Suez Canal the 
Empress will make M. de Lesseps a Duke. It will 
be difficult to find a name for his Dukedom. One 
could not make M. de Lesseps Duke of Suez, for 
Suez belongs to the Sultan, who could expel him 
from his dominion anv dav he took a fancy to do 


Eugenie left France with a brilliant suite. The 
Khedive received her with great splendour. It 
was a moment of rest after the bustle of her 
life, like a voyage in dreamland, in an enchanted 
country, under resplendent skies, resounding with 
music, bathed in continual light, full of fetes, of all 
the charms of an Oriental country doing its best to 
captivate a mighty and beautiful sovereign. 


The Khedive gave a dinner of extraordinary 
splendour in her honour and uttered such words to 
his Imperial guest that Eugenie wrote to 
Napoleon : " Your hair would stand on end if you 
could hear what the Khedive says to me." Unable 
to do anything else, he insisted upon kissing the 
Empress' hands, and a multitude of arguments had 
to be used to make him understand that etiquette 
forbade even that to be done too often. 

On her return to Paris, after this excursion to 
the fabled East, Eugenie introduced the burnous, 
and the modish colour the following winter was eau 
de Nil an artistic blending of green and grey, with 
a wonderful silver sheen, recalling the ripples of 
the Nile in moonlight. 

Eugenie found Paris feverish, agitated and fear- 
ful : revolution was in the air. It was then that the 
Empress' party was organized, with the vice- 
Emperor Rouher at its head, to fight the Liberals, 
headed by Emile Ollivier. Rouher was only a tool 
in the Empress' hands, but he was very ambitious. 
" Rouher clings to power; he must be removed," 
said M. de la Valette. 

Colonel de Verly describes the gatherings of the 
Empress' partisans in the following manner : 

" Dinner never lasted longer than thirty-five 
minutes. Coffee was served in the Diana drawing- 
room, and the guests then went to the White 
drawing-room, where they stood about for an hour 
and a half. Their Majesties went round the draw- 
ing-room, each in a different direction, stopped 
before every guest and said a few amiable words. 
When the Empress came to M. Rouher, she would 


look round, then make a sign to the ladies to be 
seated, while she talked with the man who was 
justly called the vice-Emperor. Their talks were 
long and animated. When the Sovereign left 
M. Rouher, the ladies would rise, and she would 
continue her promenade." 

The pressure of public opinion became so great 
that Napoleon found himself compelled to relax 
the reins of his government, but when he modified 
the laws governing the press the waves of revolu- 
tion rose higher. 

Rochefort poured forth torrents of gall and 
venom against the Emperor, whom he attacked in 
coarse terms both as a man and as a ruler, and 
sullied Eugenie's name with the basest of insinua- 
tions : Here is an example of the democratic 
Marquis's language : 

" September 20, 1868. 

" Napoleon III. is the Offenbach of emperors, 
not as a band conductor, but as jcttatorc. It suf- 
fices for him to call on a sick man for that man to 
die. Morny, that nameless fellow whose conduct 
had no name either, died after the Imperial visit. 
Mocquart, author of the Massacres de Sijrie and an 
accomplice in other massacres, died as soon as he 
had seen the conqueror of December the Second. 
The Spanish Government being sick, Queen 
Isabella made an appointment with her powerful 
neighbour, and her throne was overthrown even 
before she had time to press to her bosom that 
providential man." 


" February 8, 1869. 

" The papers say that the Emperor and Empress 
left the last ball at the Tuileries at ten o'clock, be- 
fore the dancing began. It is evident that there 
will soon be a dance before which they will be wise 
if they both withdraw." 

Rochefort, banished from France, published the 
Lanterne in Brussels, but was able to distribute it 
in Paris. Even the Court played with the fire, and 
read the scurrilous paper. *' Why do you read 
this? " said Merimee to Princess Julie. " It is too 
stupid." But even the Empress read the paper 
and fetes followed one after the other. 

The disastrous year of 1870 began with balls, 
fetes and merry-making. On January 26, the first 
ball of the season was given at the Tuileries, and 
was crowded ; nobody seemed to feel the coming 
of a terrible war with a fearful foe. Confidence 
made everybody blind. 

" The General sees the Prussians everywhere/' 
Napoleon would say of Niel, who saw the danger 
and submitted a plan for the reorganisation of the 
army, a plan which was never carried out. 

When the Countess de Pourtales, who, living in 
Lorraine, had not only the opportunity of seeing 
the preparations of the Prussians, but also secured 
important information concerning their designs on 
France, warned the Government, they smiled at 
her fears, and shrugging their shoulders, said : 
" Women's apprehensions ! ' 

Napoleon's true friends advised him to 


strengthen the base of his dynasty by giving the 
country liberal institutions. This was fiercely 
opposed by the Empress' party, who were of the 
opinion that the maintenance of the Empire de- 
pended on victories and, that being so, they de- 
manded war with Prussia. 

Napoleon began by following the first advice and 
the great plebiscite was taken. On May 21, the 
result was proclaimed in the Throne Room of the 
Louvre. The Emperor and Empress, surrounded 
by their glittering Court, heard that some 
8,000,000 votes had decided that France was no 
longer to be an autocratic, but a constitutional 

The Opposition nevertheless grew still stronger, 
and the Empress, haunted by gloomy presenti- 
ment, would often say : " I never leave this palace 
without asking myself whether I shall return to 

The pressure of the Empress' party was so 
strong, and the Emperor's will was so weakened, 
that notwithstanding his motto : L'Empire, c'est 
la paix, despite his fervent wish to induce the Great 
Powers to disarm, he accepted the possibility of 
war with Prussia and passed the Law of Regency. 
This, naturally, gave the government to Eugenie 
in the event of the Emperor's being obliged to 
leave, not France, but Paris. 

" This Law of Regency is ridiculous," said 
Prince Jerome. " Ollivier has been beaten by 
Rouher, and the Auvergnat has this time had the 
best of the Marseillais. Rouher is a tricky old 
lawyer, and more than a match for Ollivier." 


Only after the declaration of war was it clear why 
the Empress' party had urged Napoleon to insti- 
tute this Law of Regency. They counted on vic- 
tory, which would make them strong enough to 
make the Empire autocratic once again and drive 
out the Liberals. " After the campaign," said 
Eugenie, " we shall see if they will be bold 
enough to give us their advice and oppose our 

On July 2, 1870, the Queen of Spain abdicated 
in favour of her son, but General Prim offered the 
Spanish throne to Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern. 
To have a German Prince on the throne of Spain 
would have been a heavy blow to the French 
secular policy, so well expressed in the words of 
Louis the Fourteenth : Point de Pyrenees ! The 
pressure of the French Government was so strong 
that William of Prussia, who still had not decided 
on a war against France, induced the cadet of his 
house to withdraw his candidature to the Spanish 

44 It is a great pity ! ' exclaimed General 
Bourbaki, when he heard of this political victory, 
" for I would like nothing better than to con- 
duct the Emperor to Berlin at the head of my 

Eugenie, who wished to rule over France during 
her consort's absence from the capital, was highly 
dissatisfied, and there seems little doubt that it was 
at her instigation that that absurd demand for 
guarantees was made to Prussia by France. 

The French Ambassador at Berlin wrote to M. 


Darimon : " Try to find from Ollivier what was 
the cause of the demand for guarantees, after the 
Prince von Hohenzollern's renunciation, and of 
thus changing the whole basis of the negotiations. 
This new pretension rendered everything impos- 
sible." Emile Ollivier answered : " The demand 
was made without my knowledge." 

The story about the falsification of the famous 
telegram is well known, but it is now proved that 
the French Government already knew, through its 
Ambassador at Berlin, that the despatch was 
altered by Bismarck, and that consequently France 
was not insulted in the person of her repre- 

Had the French people been advised of this, the 
war might have been avoided, but the Empress' 
plans were different. Here is what General du 
Barrail says on the subject : 

" I am obliged to recognise that the Empress 
was, if not the only author, at least the principal 
author, of the war of 1870. She understood w r hat 
a mistake she had made in 1866, when she pre- 
vented the Emperor from accepting the proposi- 
tions made by Bismarck at Biarritz, and wished to 
retrieve that fault. Therefore she urged the war, 
and her influence was considerable. Her influence 
over the Emperor was practically unlimited." 

Lord Granville, seeing that war between France 
and Germany was unavoidable, proposed mediation 
by England, but the Tuileries Cabinet, continuing 
its ruinous policy of hesitation and tergiversation, 
gave only an ambiguous reply to the suggestion, 
and the doom of the Second Empire was sealed. 


Lord Malmesbury wrote : 

" The Duke de Gramont was appointed Minister 
of Foreign Affairs, and on May 19 the Emperor 
gave a dinner, said to be in honour of the Duke's 

" The Duke de Gramont was an agreeable and 
polished man in society, but vain and impetuous, 
and had more liberty of action than was given by 
the Emperor during his former regime to his 
Foreign Ministers. 

" The Duke himself gave me the following 
account of the last scene on July 14, before the 
declaration of war. 

" The Hohenzollern candidature to the throne 
of Spain had been abandoned, and the Emperor 
was decidedly disposed to accept this renounce- 
ment and to patch up the quarrel, and turn this 
result into a diplomatic success ; but his Ministers 
had avoided no opportunity of publishing the insult 
to all France, and the Press stirred the anger and 
vanity of the public to a pitch of madness. None 
had yet taken advantage of this characteristic 
temper of the Emperor. Before the final resolve 
to declare war, the Emperor, Empress and 
Ministers went to Saint-Cloud. After some discus- 
sion, Gramont told me that the Empress, a high- 
spirited and impressionable woman, made a strong 
and most excited address, declaring that war was 
inevitable if the honour of France was to be 

" She was immediately followed by Marshal Le 
Boeuf, who, in the most violent tone, threw 
down his portfolio and swore that if war was not 


- - - <-'":: ........ , ' v '-- "*" "*!* 

declared he would give it up and renounce his 
military rank. 

" The Emperor gave way and Gramont went 
straight to the Chamber to announce the fatal 


In reply to the Emperor's inquiry as to whether 
all was ready, the Minister of War, the same Le 
Boeuf, replied that everything was arehipret, even 
to the last gaiter button ! 

It must be said that the majority of the French 
were for war and rushed to arms against Prussia 
with enthusiasm, shouting: A 'Berlin I A 'Berlin! 
and singiner the Girondist song : " Moitrir pour la 
patrie." Republicans, Imperialists and even 
Royalists, all sang the prohibited Marseillaise. 

The Empress' ambition was satisfied : the 
Emperor left Saint-Cloud for Met/,, and she ruled 
over la belle France, which, entirely isolated and 
unprepared, was about to be easily crushed and 
humiliated by Bismarck and Moltke. 

Soon the ambitious woman found that it was not 
so easy a task to be a ruler. She had no able fol- 
lowers to help her. She stood alone and at the 
mercy of an excited populace, ready to rise against 
her at the smallest provocation. 

During her prosperous days, extravagance, 
bigotry and vanity, had made her feeble and in- 
capable of understanding the true significance of 
her oft-repeated saying : " I would never leave the 
Tuileries in a cab, as did Charles X and Louis 
Philippe. Never would I flee before the Revo- 


It was soon proved that Prince Napoleon was 
right when he said rather rudely : " And they wish 
me to rule with the aid of such a goose ! ' 



Empress," wrote the Count de 
Vieil-Castel, " understands neither 
France nor her proper role therein. 
She forms all sorts of small coalitions 
and constantly compromises the Imperial cause. 
Nor does she miss an opportunity of slandering 

*' A month ago, the Emperor was lunching with 
the Empress, Princess Mathilde and Doctor 
Conneau. The conversation sustained by the 
Empress was exclusively about external politics. 
The Empress spoke with such bitterness and un 
parti pris so decidedly hostile to the politics of 
France, that the Emperor rose and said im- 
patiently : 

" Truly, Eugenie, you forget two things : that 
you are a Frenchwoman and that you have married 
a Bonaparte. " 

Then in another place : "It is difficult to 
analyse this woman, and I am still less certain what 
her purpose is ; her affection for the Emperor is 
nothing else but ambition. . . ." 



This seemingly cruel assertion appears less un- 
just after reading the following facts : 

" In August, 1869," says M. Darimon, 4t the 
Emperor's malady assumed an alarming aspect, 
and he was obliged to take to his bed." 
Great physicians watched over him and, as they 
wished to keep the public in ignorance as to the real 
state of his health, the Journal Officiel said : " His 
Majesty's rheumatic pains are beginning to dis- 
appear." In the Independence Beige the follow- 
ing despatch from Paris was published : " There is 
an improvement in the Emperor's health. The 
results of the tests are favourable." 

M. Darimon again : 

" In 1870, I had asked the Emperor for an 
audience ... it was granted to me only after 
three weeks. It was said that the Emperor had 
influenza. I was ushered into the grand drawing- 
room at the Tuileries. When I saw the Emperor 
coming towards me I was struck by the change in 
his features, and by the difficulty with which he 
moved ; he had great difficulty in keeping straight, 
and he bit his moustache often, as does a man who 
suffers continually. 

" ' The Emperor is ill,' I said to Conti, whom 
I saw after the audience. Conti lifted his eyes to 
the ceiling, and said nothing." 

M. Darimon adds : 

" The principal cause of the defeat was the 
secrecy surrounding the Emperor's malady, which, 
according to all the physicians, w r as very grave. 
On July 1, 1870, Napoleon was suffering so much 
that a great consultation took place at the Tuileries. 

SEDAN 187 

The consulting physicians were Nelaton, Ricord, 
Fauvel, See and Corvisart. 

" Dr. See was entrusted with the writing of the 
report, and he did this so clearly that there was not 
the slightest doubt that an operation was abso- 
lutely necessary. Dr. See signed his report, and 
handed it to the Emperor's physician, Dr. Con- 
neau, telling him to ask the other consulting 
physicians to do likewise. 

" Dr. Conneau did not do his duty. When, 
after the Emperor's death, this forgotten report 
was found amongst his papers, it was signed only 
by Dr. See. Dr. Conneau and those who kept 
this consultation secret are responsible for the con- 
sequences. Had the operation been performed, 
the Emperor, cured, would have been strong 
enough to resist the partisans of the war ; and had 
he been obliged, notwithstanding all, to declare 
that war, he would have been physically and 
morally sound, and able to conduct our affairs both 
in Paris and at the frontier in an entirely different 

** When in 1873 Prince Napoleon found Dr. 
See's report at Campden Place, he was astounded, 
and taking aside Dr. Conneau, said to him : 

" ' Why did you keep such an important docu- 
ment secret? ' 

" ' You are so violent that it is impossible to tell 
you anything.' 

" ' You must speak; the question is of conse- 

" ' I showed that paper at the proper time to 
one who had the right to see it.' 


" * And what happened? ' 

" * I was told : the wine has been poured out, 
and it must be drunk.' 

" The person who ' had the right ' could be no 
other than the Empress, and yet war was declared 
three days after that consultation. 

" Dr. Conneau must have told the truth; he 
would not have dared to throw such a suspicion on 
the Empress groundlessly, knowing that Prince 
Napoleon was capable of asking her for an imme- 
diate explanation." 

Baron Verly accuses the Empress directly : 

" How guilty are those, the Empress above all 
others, who allowed Napoleon to undertake the 
war of 1870, sick as he was, and did not order an 
operation to be performed before the downfall of 
the throne." 

The Emperor himself said later : 

" I would never have allowed myself to be in- 
duced to make war if I had known that the most 
eminent surgeons of Paris agreed with Professor 
See, who stated formally that I had gravel, and 
that an operation was urgent." 

Emile Ollivier said : "I swear that I and my 
colleagues were ignorant of the Emperor's malady. 
Had we been aware of that, we would not have 
allowed him to take command of the army, and 
would have kept him in Paris." 

The Count de la Chapelle, who enjoyed the 
Emperor's confidence, speaks in the following 
terms : 

" The coterie of the Tuileries, daily more power- 
ful, had decided in favour of war, and the Empress 

SEDAN 189 

had lent it all her support. The momentous 
Cabinet Council held at Saint-Cloud lasted until 
four o'clock in the morning. The Emperor was 
grossly misled by false despatches which forced an 
immediate decision and obliged Napoleon III. to 
give his consent after a strong resistance, both on 
his part and on that of several eminent members of 
his Cabinet. 

' A few hours later, the Due de Gramont had 
declared war against Prussia in the Legislative 
Assembly. The gauntlet was thrown down. The 
evil was done. The Palace conspirators had accom- 
plished their work : the dying Emperor was re- 
moved, and the Empress became Regent ! 

" Napoleon III., audacious and courageous as 
he had always been throughout his startling career, 
did not hesitate to put himself at the head of his 
army, though his malady made rapid progress 
. but his physical sufferings afflicted him 
less than his moral ones." 

The Marquise de la Ferronnays, although not 
sympathetically disposed towards Napoleon, who 
had treated her cavalierly said : " The condition of 
the Emperor, whom death already held in its grasp, 
should serve as an excuse for him before the Court 
of history. One cannot help pitying him when one 
thinks what he suffered morally and physically dur- 
ing the Terrible Year. His state of health, known 
to the Empress, was indeed the cause of her deter- 
mination to have war declared. She was sure that 
the war would be a series of victories, and thought 
that under the protection of a victorious army, in 


the event of the Emperor's death, she would be- 
come Regent for her son." 

Paris resounded with shouts of A Berlin! A 
Berlin! After some waiting, which seemed inter- 
minable to a populace thirsting for victories, the 
first telegram was at last received. The insignificant 
encounter at Saarbruck was magnified into a 
glorious victory, and Napoleon sent Eugenie the 
following despatch : 

" Louis has received his baptism of fire. He 
was admirably calm, and never lost his self-pos- 
session. One of General Frossar's divisions has 
taken the heights that command the east of Saar- 
bruck. The Prussians made a short resistance. 
We were in the foremost rank, and bullets fell at 
our feet. Louis has kept one ball that fell close by 
him. Some of the soldiers wept when they saw 
him so composed. We lost only one officer and 
ten men. 


The message was received with pleasure, but 
with no enthusiasm. Then came the thunderbolt 
of the defeats at Woerth and Forbach : " The 
army is defeated ; you must raise your courage to 
the heights of circumstances. Napoleon." 

In the midst of a general panic, the Count de 
Cosse-Brissac, the Empress' chamberlain, brought 
in the following short despatch : " Everything may 
be yet saved." Eugenie fell on her knees, her face 
bathed with tears, and exclaimed : '* Thank God 
that there is some hope ! ' 

On August 7th she gave orders for the Court to 

SEDAN 191 

return at once to Paris, for it was in Saint-Cloud 
that she received this news. On the following day 
the walls of Paris were plastered with the following 
appeal to the people. 

' ' Frenchmen ! The beginning of the war has 
not been favourable to us, and our arms have suf- 
fered defeat, but let us be firm in resistance and 
hasten to retrieve our losses. Let there be but one 
party among us : that of France ; let us follow but 
one banner : that of our honour ! I shall be in your 
midst, and you will see me faithful to my duty and 
calling, the first where dangers threatens, the fore- 
most to guard the banner of the Empire. I call 
upon all good citizens to preserve order, the breach 
of which will be equivalent to conspiring with our 


While the Empress was struggling with her 
destiny, the Emperor suffered terribly during the 
beginning of that disastrous campaign. In the 
army nobody knew his state of health. During the 
fighting at Saarbriick, Napoleon remained impas- 
sive, but at moments his face expressed such agony 
that General Lebrun could not help noticing it, 
and said : " Your Majesty seems to suffer." 
" Yes, my dear general, I suffer very much in- 
deed ! " 

One of the Cabinet Ministers, who was in favour 
of the Emperor's return to Paris, sent a confiden- 
tial man to find out what the spirit of the army was, 
and what the soldiers thought of Napoleon. 

The result of these inquiries was very depress- 


ing : the army, although still fond of its com- 
mander, had begun to doubt his capacity. The 
Emperor became daily more and more ill ; he could 
only ride for a few moments, and even the move- 
ment of the carriage caused him dreadful pain. 

On August 9, the Cabinet meeting was held at 
which Emile Ollivier insisted that the Emperor 
should return to Paris. The Empress opposed this 
suggestion vehemently, and mercilessly, and this 
makes one think of the Count de Vieil-Castel's 
lines : " The Empress would like to get rid of the 
Emperor, even as Marie de Medici wished to get 
rid of Henri IV." 

Then the Prince Imperial prevailed upon his 
father to leave the army, but the Emperor of the 
French did not dare to do this without his consort's 
consent. He telegraphed to her, but the Regent 
forbade him to come back. He was forced to go 
to Sedan ! 

The Germans advanced every day like the waves 
of a terrible inundation. The army of Chalons 
could have fallen back on Paris, but Palikao 
objected: " The Empress desires the expedition; 
it is a point of honour with her ; it would be odious 
to leave Bazaine without help." But Bazaine had 
a strong army and could have defended himself 
quite well. 

Napoleon said subsequently to Sir John Bur- 
goyne : ** On our return to Chalons, I wished to 
conduct our last army to Paris, but here also politi- 
cal considerations forced me to accomplish that 
most imprudent and unstrategical movement which 
finished at Sedan." 

SEDAN 198 

On August 18, the new War Minister, General 
Palikao, announced in the Legislative Corps that 
the Emperor was deprived of the direction of the 
war, Bazaine being appointed to take the supreme 

By overthrowing the Cabinet and by abandoning 
the vanquished Emperor, the Empress thought 
that she was strengthening the Regency ; she soon 
perceived that she had annulled her own power. 
That power passed from her to the deputies, and 
defeat followed defeat. 

The Empress, maddened, and not knowing what 
to do, wrote a vain, imploring letter to the Tsar, 
beseeching him to intervene in favour of France. 
She turned to Metternich, but that diplomatist had 
forgotten his old sentiment for the Empress, and 
looked impassively on her misfortunes. Chaos 
ruled. There was no longer any supreme command 
in the army. Everybody gave orders : the 
Emperor, the Empress, the War Ministry ! . . . 

And then came the last blow. As the Minister 
of the Interior, Henri Chevreau, was on his way to 
the Tuileries in the afternoon of September 8, he 
was stopped by the head of the Telegraphic Ser- 
vice, who told him that he had received a message 
of the utmost importance from the Emperor to the 
Empress, adding : 

" I usually attend to the telegrams that are ex- 
changed between their Majesties myself; but I 
have not the heart to deliver this one." 

It was the ominous news : " The army is de- 
feated and taken. I am a prisoner. Napoleon.*' 

The French army, surrounded on all sides by an 


iron ring of three hundred German guns, ready to 
vomit out the fire of annihilation, had been obliged 
to surrender, and we read among Napoleon's 
despatches the following explanatory defence : 
" Not being able to die in the midst of my soldiers, 
I was obliged to constitute myself a prisoner, in 
order to save the army." 

On September 4, Jules Favre read to the Legis- 
lative Corps the ordre du jour which proclaimed 
the overthrow of the Empire. 



IN the meantime, revolution had been simmer- 
ing in Paris, the Marseillaise was heard at 
every corner, red flags were hoisted on every 
important building. Dense crowds surged 
up and down the boulevards, which resounded with 
hoarse cries of * ' Down with the Emperor ! Down 
with the Empress ! Long live the Republic ! ' 
The correspondent of the Daily News wrote : 
" From the windows of the huge barracks, 
formerly filled with troops who appeared ready to 
die for their Emperor, I noticed soldiers laughing, 
waving their handkerchiefs and shouting : Vive la 

" Then upon the quay I saw busts of the 
Emperor pitched out of the houses and thrown into 
the Seine amid tremendous shouts of applause. 
Everybody was laughing or weeping with joy, 
shaking hands and embracing his neighbour." 

The Marquis de Castelbajac, Equerry to the 
Empress, suggested on September 3 that she 
should leave the Tuilerics in a cab. She refused to 
do so, 



The Empress asked her faithful Merimee to in- 
terview Thiers, the future President of the 
Republic. Merimee said to Thiers : 

" You know why I have come? ' 

" Yes, I can guess." 

" You can do us a great favour." 

" I can do nothing for you." 

" You have a good chance to form a representa- 
tive government." 

" Nothing can be done after Sedan." 

When the members of the Chamber met at 
noon, the partisans of the Empire decided to send 
a deputation to the Empress in order to come to 
some understanding with her. Count Daru and 
M. Buffet were received in the deserted and 
gloomy Tuileries, the Regent being accompanied 
by Admiral Jurien de la Graviere. 

M. Buffet urged that the increasing strength of 
the Opposition made it urgent to treat with them 
in order to retain even a vestige of power. The 
Empress declared proudly that she would never 
consent to yield the authority vested in her. Dur- 
ing the interview, bulletins brought worse and 
worse news, but she would not give way. 

An usher announced that M. Gardanes, deputy 
for the Girondc, had come from the legislative 
Corps with a very important communication. 
" Let him wait," answered the Recrent nngrily. 
Count Daru insisted that the deputy should be re- 
ceived. " There is nothing urgent," answered 
Euge'nie. She did not grasp the situation, did not 
realise how important the events were. When 


finally M. Gardanes was introduced and told her 
that the Chamber had been invaded by the mob, 
shouting : Vive la Republique I she realised that 
there remained for her nothing but flight. 

Admiral Jurien de la Graviere proposed that the 
Versailles road should be taken. " I am too well 
known there," answered the Empress. *' Let us 
then go to Havre, which we can reach in a little 
boat by the Seine." Still she demurred : "At 
the first lock they would pluck me like a violet." 

The Prince von Metternich and Signor Nigra 
were announced. " We have come to offer the 
Empress our protection," said Nigra. 

" The Prince von Metternich," wrote Mme. 
Carette, " drew Mme. Lebreton towards a window 
and spoke with her in an undertone. Then Mme. 
Lebreton came to the Empress and spoke with her. 
The Empress nodded in agreement. Then 
Admiral Jurien de la Graviere asked the Austrian 
Ambassador some questions. ' Be at your ease,' 
answered Prince von Metternich. ' I will answer 
for everything, and you can accompany Her 
Majesty.' " 

The mob outside the Tuileries was surging back- 
wards and forwards, trampling itself underfoot, 
animated by one thought, hatred of the Empress, 
which had spread like wildfire among the masses. 
The mob rolled on like a living avalanche, till 
it reached the gates of the Tuileries, which it 

Then wild shouts became audible on the grand 
staircase. The Empress was cajoled into leaving 
the Palace, and took leave of her ladies-in-waiting. 



Mme. de Bourgoing entered, and said : " My hus- 
band commands 8,500 faithful soldiers ; I come to 
take Your Majesty's orders." " Orders? ' 
answered the Empress. " I have none to give." 

General Mellinet entered the drawing-room. 

* I come to ask the Empress' permission to silence 

those fellows," he said. The Marquis de Castel- 

bajac told him then that the Empress was leaving 

the Tuileries. 

The shouts of the mob became louder and 
louder, and General Mellinet said to the leaders of 
the mob, who came to ask him to withdraw the 
troops from the Tuileries: " I will do so; but I 
warn you that if one of my men is even bothered, 
I will remember that I command them." 

Eugenie had not the strength to withstand the 
first blow of the revolution, and could not keep the 
proud promises which she had uttered so often. 
She fled in a cab, as Charles X. and Louis Philippe 
had done. 

The Empress' flight, so w r ell described by Mme. 
Carette, is too well known to be repeated here ; 
everybody knows how the American dentist, Dr. 
Evans, became an historical personage by helping 
the Empress of the French to reach England. 

Eugenie's brilliant Court vanished like a flight 
of birds on the apparition of a hawk, and she left 
the Tuileries, in which she had been omnipotent, 
accompanied by the two attendants who remained 
faithful to her, one an Italian, the other an 
Austrian ! 

" We certainly pity the sovereign abandoned 
under these tragical circumstances," writes Baron 


Verly, " but whose fault was this? It was she, 
the unfortunate Empress, who was responsible in a 
large proportion for the downfall of her throne ! 
And the frightful, cowardly desertion of her person 
on September 4 was the consequence of favouritism, 
of the intrigues conducted in her drawing-rooms 
by her little Court, which wished to overthrow the 
true one. She herself opened the door to all those 
sickly ambitions." 

From Dover, which she reached after various 
incidents, and where some of her courtiers joined 
her, the Empress went to Chislehurst. 

The first step in the new life was to find a quiet 

" Mr. Strode, a rich Englishman who had 
formerly known the Emperor, came to offer his 
services to the Empress, and, having learned that 
Her Majesty was looking for a residence, he sug- 
gested his home at Campden Place, Chislehurst. 

" An Officer with the Prince Imperial went to 
see whether the house would be convenient. It 
was a large and gloomy-looking but comfortable 
building, situated in a park. Mr. Strode wished to 
offer it to the Empress. The Prince Imperial's 
aide-de-camp told him that Her Majesty would not 
accept it, but that she would rent it from him. 

" ' I am disposed to let it,' said Mr. Strode. 

" ' The Empress does not intend to have a large 
establishment, and the rent of this house must be 
greater than the Empress is prepared to pay.' 

" ' How much does the Empress intend to pay?' 

The Officer told him. 


" ' That is exactly the rent I ask,' rejoined Mr. 

" The transaction was closed, and the Empress 
went to Chislehurst to live in that unlucky house, 
in which she proposed to remain only a short time, 
but where so many tears flowed." 

On March 20, the Emperor embarked at Ostend, 
and the same day landed at Dover, whence he went 
to Chislehurst by special train. 

He was cordially received by the English people, 
" for they remembered well," says Lord Malmes- 
bury, " the steadfast policy of friendship which he 
had for twenty years displayed towards England. 
Englishmen remembered the Crimean war and his 
sympathetic action when proprio motu he took 
their part against the seizure of the American dele- 
gates who were coming over in the British packet. 
Still more, when in the crisis of our Indian Mutiny, 
our safety depended on rapid action, the Emperor 
offered to allow our troops a passage through 

Lord Malmesbury went to see him on the follow- 
ing day, and was received in the most hearty 
manner, Napoleon saying : "It was very nice of 
you to come to see me." 

" I confess I never was more moved. His quiet 
and calm dignity and absence of narrowness and 
irritability were the grandest examples of human 
moral courage that the severest Stoic could have 
imagined. I felt overpowered by the position." 

The British peer could not help thinking of the 
sad lot of the man " whose race had been so suc- 
cessful and romantic, now without a crown, with- 


out an army, without a country or an inch of 
ground which he could call his own. He conversed 
with a dignity and resignation which might be that 
of a fatalist." 

His story was told in a quiet, natural way not 
a single complaint; he said that "he had been 
trompe as to the force and preparation of his army. 
Nor did he abuse anyone until I mentioned General 
Trochu, who deserted the Empress, whom he had 
sworn to defend, and gave Paris up to the mob. 
'Ah! Voila un drole! ' exclaimed the Emperor." 

By a strange coincidence, Napoleon lived at 
Chislehurst in the same house which twenty years 
previously had been occupied by a pretty English 
girl by the name of Emmy Rowles, with whom he 
had been in love and whom he had intended to 

The court of the dethroned sovereigns was com- 
posed of the Due de Bassano, Count Clary, Dr. 
Corvisart, M. F. Pietri and Mesdames Lebreton 
and de Lherminat. M. Filon was tutor to the 
Prince Imperial. Baron Verly says that " they 
eliminated all those who were devoted to the 
Emperor and whom he loved." 

At the beginning, life at Chislehurst was diffi- 
cult, for the Emperor had no money ; he had spent 
too much on pleasure and given away too freely. 
The Princess von Metternich and Duchesse de 
Mouchy were obliged to lend the Empress their 

November 15th came ; it was the first anniver- 
sary which the Empress was to celebrate in exile. 


Those who surrounded her feared the sadness of 
that day, which formerly had been spent so joy- 
fully. However, the eve brought carriages full of 
flowers, of which there was such a profusion that 
every room was filled, and the house of misfortune 
looked gay. The day was spent in an agreeable 

About twenty people were present at the dinner. 
Some one said : " When ten people gather, there 
are five different opinions represented." 

" Yes," rejoined the Emperor, " such is the 
French character. Here, all opinions are repre- 

The courtiers protested, but the Emperor smiled 
and, turning to Eugenie, said : 

" You, for instance, are always a Legitimist. 
You admire the Count de Chambord, and even his 
proclamations to the French." 

" Yes, you are right," said the Empress. 
" Mme. Lebreton is an Orleanist. As to you, 
Conneau, you are a communard," said the Emperor 

Then the Prince Imperial asked ironically : 
" I see that mama is a Legitimist, Mme. 
Lebreton an Orleanist, Dr. Conneau a Republican ; 
who then is an Imperialist here? ' 

While the Emperor was working on his 
important book : Les forces militaires de la France 
en 1870, the Empress' party was reorganised and 
the intriguing began again. When the MS. was 
finished the Count de la Chapelle was entrusted 
with its publication in Paris. The Empress and 
her clique were against its appearance, for they 


feared that it would show up certain personalities 
in an unfavourable light. 

The Count de la Chapelle, who became very 
intimate with the Emperor, wrote : 

" I became acquainted with all the intrigues of 
the Regency against the Sovereign. I learned how 
the statesmen who were indebted for everything to 
the Emperor continued to betray him at the 
Tuileries and during the unfortunate campaign of 
1870. I was able to discover that duplicity with 
which the Emperor was surrounded on the throne, 
and which led him, with France, into an abyss." 

Napoleon expected to return to France. 

" All the arrangements were complete, although 
the plot was directed by a few people ; the ordinary 
leaders of the party were kept outside, nor were 
the Empress and her partisans admitted into the 
secret. The Prince Imperial alone was initiated. 
The majority of the Chamber was against Thiers ; 
the reaction in favour of the Empire had made 
extraordinary progress . . . the Republic 
existed only in name . . . the Emperor was 

But all this devotion and all these hopes were 
made vain by the ordains of Providence : the 
Emperor's malady made such progress that he con- 
sented to an operation being performed. " In a 
month, we will be riding," he would say. His 
hopes were never realised. He passed away on 
January 9, 1873, without a parting word. 

It is necessary to quote the Count de la Chapelle 
once more, for his statement is of the greatest con- 


" The operation of lithotrity, performed by Sir 
Henry Thompson, did not cause the Emperor's 
death. That operation, which was repeated several 
times, was always carried out satisfactorily. The 
Emperor's state of health was good ; this is proved 
by the official bulletins of the physicians and by 
the following letter addressed to me by Dr. 
Corvisart : 

" Campden Place, January 7th, 1873, at 

8 o'clock in the evening. 
" My Dear Count, 

" I am much pleased to write to you concerning 
His Majesty. As you are aware, the operation of 
breaking is going on successfully. To-day, the 
Emperor has dined, he has no fever and everything 
goes as well as we could desire. 

' The Emperor wishes me to communicate this 
good news to you. 

" Yours, etc., 


" Sir Henry Thompson had entirely succeeded 
in two other operations, and January 13 was fixed 
for the final one. In order to calm the sufferings of 
the patient and assure sleep, Sir W. Gull pre- 
scribed a potion of chloral, to be taken in the 

" On the evening of the 8th, the general state 
of the Emperor's health was so good that it was 
decided that the Prince Imperial could return to 
Woolwich the next day as early as possible. 
Nevertheless, in order to follow the English 


physician's strict instructions, the Emperor was 
urged to take the prescribed potion. Prompted 
probably by a presentiment, he refused obstinately, 
saying that he suffered no pain, that the chloral 
which composed this potion tired him during the 
night, that he did not mind if the pain returned, 
for he was accustomed to it, and that he was deter- 
mined not to take that drug. 

" But Sir William Gull's order was precise, and 
to overcome the sick man's obstinacy, his 
attendants appealed to the Empress, and it was to 
her entreaties and prayers that the Emperor finally 
yielded and took the dose which was to make him 
sleep during the night, but which gave him eternal 
rest. Napoleon III. died from an overdose of 
chloral ! After taking the draught, the Emperor 
fell asleep ; it was nine o'clock in the evening. 
He woke up only for a few seconds. The following 
day, at ten o'clock in the morning, he uttered one 
or two words and passed away." 

" On January 9, 187.3," says Lord Malmesbury, 
'* he died, released from the storm of a fitful exist- 
ence, from intense physical suffering and saved from 
knowing the loss of his only son." 

Such was the end of the most conspicuous per- 
sonage of his time. 

" More cosmopolitan than French, at once a 
dreamer and a man of action, by turns and even 
sometimes simultaneously a democrat and an auto- 
crat, tormented now by the prejudices of the past, 
and now by new ideas, the representative of 
Ciesarism and, at the end of his reign, the champion 
of popular liberties ; looking like a sphinx and not 


always able to guess his own riddle, active beneath 
an indolent appearance, passionate despite an 
imperturbable indifference, energetic yet with an 
air of extreme moderation, loving humanity while 
condemning it, victim of the faults of others still 
more than of his own, and better than his destiny.'* 

Imbert de Saint-Armand painted this portrait of 
Napoleon III. after his death, while the Count de 
Vieil-Castel said of him while he was alive : 

" Public opinion is sick, trade is sick, the 
government is sick and the whole society needs a 
severe regime. We are beginning to be frightened 
of the conspirator's policy of which the Emperor is 
so fond ; he makes other nations uneasy, if not ill- 
disposed to us, he teaches them to have confidence 
neither in his treaties nor in his would-be friend- 
ship, and he does nothing to make France's position 
stronger, or at least to assure her peace in the 
future. If the Emperor were to die to-morrow, 
we would again be thrown into the abyss of 

" France has lost her supremacy since she made 
the other nations suspicious and since she allowed 
the triple alliance of the Courts of the North. She 
is suspected by Russia, by Prussia, by Austria, and 
also by England, who hesitates to enter into an 
alliance with her. She is suspected and isolated ; 
she allowed Denmark to perish, and encouraged 
the ambition of Prussia, hoping to obtain the Rhine 
frontier. Vain hope ! The Emperor has always 
followed the same conspirator's policy ; his govern- 
ment is a workshop of conspirators against all other 
governments. He has reached the point when his 


word and his treaties are no longer considered as 
binding. . . ." 

The following narrative left by Baron Verly is 
very cruel indeed, but it must be quoted for the 
sake of truth : 

" My father decided to take me to the funeral 
of the one whose son was my playmate, and we left 
for London. The weather was sad and rainy, and 
the express from the Gare du Nord was filled with 
those who formerly frequented the Tuileries. The 
sculptor Clesinger travelled in the same compart- 

"At Calais, the sea was so rough that we waited 
quite a long time before the boat left. Tt was full 
up. . . .A group of three women, still pretty, 
with fair hair, were chatting gaily. * Who are 
those women? ' I asked my father. * My dear boy, 
look at them well,' he answered : * they are the 
fatal advisers and bad geniuses of the Empress ; I 
hope the Prince will be energetic enough to drive 
them all away.' 

" When we arrived in London, as my father 
needed some information concerning the funeral, 
we went to the house of a family the head of which 
directed everything and to whom the Empress left 
full power." (This was the " vice-Emperor v 
Rouher's house.) " I was astounded and scan- 
dalised I was then very young to see a most 
sumptuous dinner-party for which the women were 
decolletees it is true that the frocks were black 
and for which the men wore white ties. At the 
same hour, there was lying dead at Chislehurst the 
old Emperor, whose political downfall had been 


caused by those very men the men whom he had 
fostered and raised to power." 

It is not necessary to add anything to that 
gloomy and depressing picture. 



IN October 1853 all eyes were fixed on 
Eugenie, and an habitue of the Tuileries 
wrote : 

" The Empress is to be a mother. It 
has been noticed that of late the Emperor, when at 
the theatre, or driving, or elsewhere, places the 
Empress on his right, instead of on his left. In old 
days the Queen was placed on the right of the Sove- 
reign only when in an interesting condition. This 
ancient custom was first revived by the Emperor 
some months ago, when the Empress' hopes were 
disappointed. It is concluded that Her Majesty 
is again in a situation that permits Napoleon to hope 
for an heir to his throne. It is also noticeable that 
the Empress, contrary to her custom, attends meets 
in a carriage, instead of on horseback." 

But the Empress was not more fortunate this 
time than before. In regard to the former, the ex- 
detective already several times quoted wrote on 
April 20, 1853 : " The grossesse of the Empress is 
now well accredited, but malicious tongues have it 

that the illustrious infant will be given the name of 



Aurora. Why? Because it will be born before 
the day." On February 7, 1854, the same man 
wrote in his diary : " It is said that the Empress is 
very sad, and this is attributed to the sorrow caused 
by her sterility." 

It was only on March 16, 1856, that the 
Parisians were awakened by the booming of guns 
and pealing of bells which announced that the 
Empress had been delivered of a son. When the 
King of Rome was born, only twenty-one guns 
announced the fact ; the birth of the Prince 
Imperial was saluted by a hundred and one detona- 
tions. The news was received with enthusiasm not 
only by Paris, but by the whole of France. 
Presents poured in from all quarters, and the 
baby received no fewer than twenty-eight orders in 
his cradle ; the Dames des Holies sent a deputation 
to welcome the Imperial infant. The Emperor 
ordered 1,000,000 francs to be distributed at once 
for charitable purposes ; the Municipal Council 
voted 200,000 francs to feast the poor. 

Theophile Gautier wrote the following poem in 
honour of the Empress and the Prince. 

" Au vieux palais des Tuileries, 

Charge deja d'un grand destin, 
Parmi le luxe et les feeries, 
Un enfant est ne ce matin. 

C'est un Jesus a tete blonde, 

Qui porte en sa petite main, 
Pour globe bleu, la paix du monde 

Et le bonheur du genre humain. 

La cr&che est faite en bois de rose ; 

Les rideaux sont couleur d'azur ; 
Paisible, en sa, conque il repose, 

Car fluctuat nee mergitur. 


Sur lui la France etencl son aile ; 

A son nouveau-ne, pour berceau, 
Delicatesse maternelle, 

Paris a prete son vaisseau. 

Qu'un bonheur fidele accompagne 

L' enfant imperial qui dort, 
Blanc comme les jasmins d'Espagne, 

Blond comme les abeilles d'or." 

His Holiness Pope Pius IX., represented by 
Cardinal Patrizi, stood godfather to the Prince, and 
Queen Josephine of Sweden and Norway, repre- 
sented by the Grand-Duchess Stephanie of Baden, 
was his godmother. 

At his baptism he received the names of 
Napolcon-Eugene-Louis- Jean- Joseph, but he was 
called Louis ; some popular wit gave him the pet 
name of Lulu. 

The Empress stood godmother to all the girls 
born on the same day as the Prince ; they were 
baptised Eugenie, and received a present. The 
boys born on the same day were free from military 
service. M. Bouvier, president of the High Court 
of Montelimar, declined this privilege for his son, 
and for this offence he remained until his death at 
that secondary post. 

Mme. Murat was appointed gouvernante to the 
little prince, Mesdames Bizot and de Brancion were 

Napoleon was very indulgent to his son, while 
Eugenie was very severe indeed. The Emperor 
suffered ; he was fond of forgetting his cares in the 
company of the child, and often walked with him 
in the garden of the Tuileries. The child prattled 


gaily, spoke to the sentries and looked at the 

One day a crowd gathered round them, the little 
boys looking with wide-open eyes on the prince. 
Napoleon sent his son to them, saying : " Lulu, go 
and play with them." When Eugenie learned of 
this she was furious, for, according to her parvenue's 
notions it was beneath the Imperial dignity for her 
son to play with children of the people. 

The boy loved his father, and very often found 
his way into his study, where he was fond of playing. 
One day he broke a vase, which Napoleon prized 
greatly, for it had belonged to his uncle at St. 
Helena. The Emperor rang the bell for an 
attendant, and simply said to him : " Take the 
Prince away." That was the whole scolding. He 
was so indulgent that one day he allowed the boy 
to besmear a good picture by Ziegler. The 
Empress was again very angry, and this time she 
was right. 

The Marquise de Taisey-Chatenoy tells us the 
following story : 

" Old Monsieur de Saint- Aubin was paying his 
court to the young and pretty Mile. Bouvet. One 
day, he brought her a bouquet and a bag of bon- 
bons ; she first refused the sweetmeats, but the little 
old gentleman insisted so much that, in order to get 
rid of him, she accepted them. She did not wish 
to eat them, and did not know what to do. Just 
then the Baron de Bourgoing passed. ' My dear 
Baron, I was waiting for you ; be so kind as to give 
these sweetmeats to your little Irene.' And Mile. 
Bouvet left him. 


" Monsieur de Bourgoing was going out to ride, 
and was very much embarrassed with the dainties. 
Dr. Conneau came in. ' I was lying in wait for 
you, doctor. My daughter Irene asked me to give 
you these sweetmeats for your son.' And he went 
to his horse, which was ready saddled. The 
physician was very annoyed : ' I shall return home 
very late, and I cannot carry those sweetmeats 
about with me for hours.' The Prince Imperial 
rushed in like the wind. ' Monseigneur, here are 
bonbons which I brought de la part de won fils.' 

" The little Prince began to munch the dainties 
joyfully, but a severe voice interrupted his pleasure. 
* What, Louis ? I have forbidden you to eat sweet- 
meats.' It was the Empress, accompanied by her 
reader ; she took the bag from the child and handed 
it to . . . Mile. Bouvet. Everybody began 
to laugh heartily, and the Empress was then 
informed of the little adventure. ' You will have 
to eat them,' she said to Mile. Bouvet, who made a 
grimace of distaste. 

" Somebody suggested that the dainties should 
be given to the guardsman on sentry-go close by. 
The little Prince, delighted with the idea, ran up 
to the soldier, who, obeying orders to the very 
letter, remained motionless. It was in vain that 
the child grew impatient, and stormed to attract 
his attention. Finally, tired by the effort, he 
emptied the bag into the soldier's boot." 

The Emperor used to take the Prince with him 
to Cabinet meetings ; often the boy, carried away 
by impetuosity, would join in the serious conversa- 
tion, and when his mother told him that children 



should be seen and not heard, Napoleon would 
intervene indulgently : " Let him do it ; I like to 
hear his opinions." 

One day, while there was fighting going on at the 
front, the Prince asked for something which his 
mother refused to give him. Then the news of a 
victory arrived, and she said that his fancy might 
be gratified. " Only one battle ! " exclaimed the 
boy. " My uncle won many more than that ! ' 

At eight years of age he already rode with great 
ease and elegance, and when he attended reviews 
with the Emperor, in his little uniform of a 
grenadier of the Guard, on his pony, Bouton d'Or, 
the soldiers cheered him to the echo. After his 
appointment as a corporal in the 1st Grenadier 
Guards, he wore his busby proudly, and anything 
could be done with him by the words : " Do not 
do that, monseigneur; you will dishonour your 

The Empress while at the Tuileries was always 
very severe towards her son ; she who during her 
own youth had known almost no restraint. She 
was so violent that she would not control her 
temper even in the presence of the youthful Prince, 
and Princess Mathilde tells the following story : 
" Lately, the Emperor and the Empress had a 
violent discussion in the presence of the Prince, 
during lunch. After lunch the Emperor took his 
son to his study, and there the boy said to his 
father : ' It seems to me that marnan a dit bien des 
betises.' " 

During her exile, and under the influence of mis- 
fortune, that severity changed into tyranny. She 


who had many times paid 100,000 francs for a 
frock allowed the pretender to the throne of France 
20 a month ! The two following stories related 
by the Count d'Herisson illustrate the charges made 
against her of caring nothing for making him happy 
or for helping him to uphold the dignity of his rank. 

' M. Bachon, the Prince's former equerry, went 
one day to pay his respects to him at Chislehurst. 
Naturally, the conversation turned on horses, and 
M. Bachon, noticing the Prince's mount, could not 
help saying : ' Monseigneur, it is impossible that 
you should continue riding that horse. I now 
understand why Your Highness declines to hunt. 
Pray leave it to me ; have confidence in my respect- 
ful and deep attachment ; I will find you a horse 
worthy of his rider.' 

" A few days later. M. Bachon, having searched 
the whole of London, returned to Chislehurst ; he 
had found what he was looking for, a splendid horse, 
for the comparatively moderate price of 200. But 
the Prince, very far from sharing his equerry's 
enthusiasm, said to him : ' Two hundred pounds ! 
You say it is cheap ? I am ready to believe you, but 
it is too much for me. I have not that amount.' 

" ' That does not matter, monseigneur; if you 
allow me to do so, I will ask the Empress.' Here 
the Prince's countenance changed completely, and 
he forbade the Empress to be asked for anything. 
4 Now I understand many things which I did not 
see before,' said M. Bachon. ' I am not rich, but 
I have a small vineyard, which I will sell. Your 
Highness cannot ride a horse with unsound legs and 
risk your life in that way.' The Prince thanked 


M. Bachon heartily, but forbade him to sell the 

Another story taken from the same source : 

" Count Schouwaloff had been very kind to the 
Prince, who considered it his duty to invite the 
Count to dinner at the St. James' Hotel, at the 
corner of Piccadilly and Berkeley Street ; he also 
asked General Fleury. 

" A few minutes before the appointed time, 
General Fleury arrived, accompanied by Arthur 
Meyer, to-day editor of the Ganlois, and who, at 
that time, was only a youth. 

" General Fleury said to the Prince : ' M. Arthur 
Meyer was with me, monseigneur, at the moment 
when I was going to join you. I took the liberty 
of bringing him, and I thought that you would for- 
give my taking such a liberty and would be kind 
enough to receive M. Meyer, who is a great friend 
of mine.' The Prince received M. Meyer cordially, 
another cover was added , and dinner was served. 

" After the coffee, the cigars, the liqueurs, and 
that moment of bien-etre which usually follows 
good repasts and which one makes as long as 
possible, the Prince went to pay the bill. Whether 
it was that the rank of the guests prompted the 
hotel-keeper to increase the bill considerably, or 
whether one unexpected guest had increased the 
expense to a degree for which the Prince was not 
prepared, at any rate he found himself short of 
about thirty shillings. The head waiter went 
quietly to General Fleury and told him that the 
Prince wished to speak to him. It was General 
Fleury 's purse that supplied the deficit." 


When the Prince left Woolwich, he was obliged 
to decline to take part in his comrades' celebrations, 
for he could not afford to do so. 

His position was both unpleasant and hard, for 
although he was not desirous of excessive freedom 
even when he came officially of age on June 16, 
1874, at the age of eighteen he desired to be free 
from the awkward and nonsensical tutelage of the 
Empress and Rouher. After long discussions, it 
was decided that this question would be settled by 
four arbitrators ; the mother and the son signed an 
agreement by which they bound themselves to 
accept the arbitrators' decision. Pinard, Grand- 
perret, Busson and Bilhaut, all ex-ministers, formed 
the court. Rouher proposed that he should act in 
the capacity of advocate for both parties. 

Finally, the arbitrators agreed upon certain rules, 
to be observed by mother and son in their mutual 
relations. But as this decision did not suit the 
Empress, she refused to recognise it. The arbitra- 
tors did not insist, through respect for the 
Empress, the Prince did not wish for acute strife 
with his mother, and decided to leave England in 
order to escape her yoke. 

There seems little doubt, in fact, that this was 
the cause of his resolve to take up arms as a volun- 
teer with the English troops in Zululand. His 
mother made no objection, though the Bonapartist 
leaders, alarmed at the danger of losing him in war, 
opposed the scheme strongly. Rouher, who until 
then had done almost anything with the Prince, this 
time found him determined. 

After the Prince had sailed for the Cape, the 


Bonapartist leaders assembled in a conference which 
lasted until three o'clock in the morning. It was 
decided that three of them should go to the ship's 
first port of call and again beg the Prince to give 
up his enterprise. When those three men went to 
Rouher on the evening of their departure for his 
final instructions, they found him in despair, saying 
with tears in his eyes : " You cannot go ... 
it is impossible ! ' Rouher, not daring to accept 
the full responsibility of their effort, had wired to 
the Empress, and she had forbidden him to inter- 

The Prince arrived at the headquarters of Lord 
Chelmsford, the Commander-in-Chief, on April 9, 
1879, and the following month distinguished him- 
self in several encounters. On June 1st he went 
out with a reconnoitring party in the neighbour- 
hood of Itelezi ; they were surprised by Zulus, and 
the Prince, trying to mount his horse, slipped, fell 
to the ground, and was killed. It has been said that 
his equipment was of a very inferior quality and 
that the saddle-girth broke. 

Queen Victoria sent Lord Sidney to the Empress 
with the sad news. The Due de Bassano, who was 
at Campden Place, went in to see the Empress first, 
and she, seeing the sad expression of his face, had 
a presentiment. 

" Madam, there is bad, very bad news from the 
Prince," he said. 

fi My son, my poor son ! ... is it neces- 
sary to go to the Cape? ' 

" Madam . . . it is useless . . . it is 
too late," he said, sobbing. 


The Empress understood, uttered a cry and 

" When there was a rapprochement with 
Prince Napoleon," says Irenee Mauget, " Eugenie 
admitted to him that she was hard on her son, but 
added that she was purposely so and for his benefit. 
The indifference she has since shown in regard to 
the monument erected to the Prince Imperial's 
memory by subscription, allows one to make strange 
reflections. Not once, during her numberless visits 
to Paris, has she visited that monument ; and she 
declined to pay the wages of the keeper." 

Fathom who can the abyss of the human 



f 1 HE Count de Vieil-Castel, in his charac- 
teristics of the Empress, said : 

" She is avaricious, and thinks only 
how to acquire property. When the 
Emperor receives a request to accept a dedication 
of some work of art, she makes him refuse, alleging 
that he will be obliged to give some present in ex- 
change. Were she a little bourgeoise, elle ferait 
danger Vanse du panier." 

Such was Eugenie's character when she lived at 
the Tuileries and squandered millions on her 
toilettes and astounding luxury. At Chislehurst 
she became still more petite bourgeoise, and made 
strenuous efforts to regain possession of every sou 
of hers which still remained in France. 

In Spain she had important property. While at 
the height of her glory, when she could dispose, so 
to speak, of the treasure of France, she purchased 
from the jeweller Bochmer two earrings, formed of 
two big diamonds, and cut in the shape of pears, 
which were once the property of Marie- Antoinette. 


She also acquired the oblong diamonds of marvel- 
lous beauty which also belonged to that most 
beautiful and most unfortunate of Queens. Be- 
sides those wonderful jewels she had the pearl 
necklace, which she wore on the day of her 
wedding, and which was worth 50,000. 

She became a shrewd business woman and 
accumulated considerable property. She left 
Chislehurst and acquired a fine estate at Farn- 
borough, where she built a chapel, which she 
pompously called Saint-Michael's Abbey, and in 
which she had erected three tombs : for the 
Emperor, for the Prince Imperial and for herself. 

Then she purchased a beautiful villa at Cap 
Martin, where she passed the winters, and where 
she once received the Emperor of Austria. 

The nomadic habits contracted while she was 
young made her travel continually. Under the 
name of the Countess de Pierrefonds, and accom- 
panied by the Countess Tascher de la Pagerie, 
Mme. Lebreton, Mme. de Lerminhat, the Due de 
Bassano, the Marquis de Tascher and M. Pietri, 
she visited Italy, Scotland and Spain. She had 
interviews with the Due d'Aumale and the Prince 
of Wales, subsequently Edward VII. She did not 
disdain even to accept the hospitality of James 
Gordon Bennett's yacht. 

In 1907, she was well received at Vienna by the 
Emperor of Austria, who sent the Imperial train 
for her, and on her arrival in his capital, met her 
at the station and kissed her on both cheeks. The 
same year she enjoyed herself in Norway in the 


company of the grandson of William of Prussia, 
who in 1870 had taken her husband prisoner, de- 
feated France and humiliated her by being pro- 
claimed Emperor at Versailles. 

Every time she had a chance she would visit 
Queen Victoria, who remained steadfast in her 
sentiment towards the dethroned Empress, and 
there is an amusing story in connection with one of 
Eugenie's visits to Queen Victoria while the Eng- 
lish Sovereign was at Nice. 

The French Government, wishing to show re- 
spect to the Queen of England during her sojourn 
on French soil, always gave her a guard of honour, 
a detachment of infantry being installed in the out- 
buildings of the hotel at which she was stopping 
and turning out to salute all official personages 
whom she would receive. 

One day, a French police official who was re- 
sponsible for Queen Victoria's welfare while on 
French soil noticed that the guard of honour was 
standing under arms in the courtyard of her hotel. 
Surprised, he asked the officer in command what 
the reason for this was. The officer replied that he 
had turned out his men because the Queen's 
courier told him that a crowned head was ex- 

" A little vexed on account of my ignorance," 
said the official, " I inquired of M. Dosse, the 
courier, who was the crowned head expected. 

" ' What? Don't you know? ' 

" ' Ma /ot, non.' 

" ' Well, we expect the Empress Eugenie.' 

" I jumped. 


" ' What ! ' I said. ' You wish the soldiers of 
the Republic to render honour to the former 
Empress of the French ? ' 

" ' I must admit,' replied Dosse, ' that I did not 
look at it from that point of view.' 

" ' But I do ! . . . Command the soldiers to 
withdraw at once,' I said to the officer, who did not 
seem to understand anything." 

Of all the women who played a part in the 
human comedy of the second half of last century, 
Eugenie de Monti jo, Empress of the French, was 
not only the most interesting, but also the most 

Have these pages dealt too severely with her? 
They have at all events tried to do justice, and 
to give some idea of that life which has glided past 
like a dream, a starry dream that changed into a 
horrible nightmare. She arouses the same interest 
as Marie- Antoinette, whom she admired very 

But, after all, when one thinks of her, of her 
husband, and of her son, how very a propos one 
finds the following paragraph, which one reads in 
the voluminous Memoirs which Count de Vieil- 
Castel has left to posterity as a curious document 
of the history of that great adventure called the 
Second Empire : 

" Leverrie, the astronomer, gave a little lecture 
at the Chateau de Compiegne. He spoke of the 
plurality of worlds and demonstrated that ours is 
but a barely perceptible atom in the immensity of 
the universe. 


' The Empress said slowly and in a melancholy 
voice : * Mon Dieu ! What petty things we 
are! ' " 


. . 






" Don Joaquin de Montijo was a captain in the 
provincial regiment of Segovia in 1810, when he 
married Dona Maria del Pilar de Penansade ; she 
belonged to a well-to-do and respectable family of 
Fuentepelayo, near Segovia. 

" Made a prisoner at Ciudad Rodrigo, a few 
months after his marriage, he was conducted to 
France, and when his wife learned that he was well 
treated, that he had been appointed commandant 
of a depot of Spanish prisoners and that his pay 
was almost as big as that which he had received in 
Spain, she joined him there. The good under- 
standing between husband and wife did not last 
long. Both, it would appear, committed grave 
faults which troubled the order of their life, dis- 
turbed their finances, made them incur debts, and 
finally led to a separation. 

" Don Joaquin dc Montijo, reduced to extremes 



and deprived of his post because half of the 
prisoners were transferred from Bourges to Dijon 
and Carcassone, entered the French army. He 
was hardly settled with his new regiment when his 
wife came to him. He did not wish to receive her, 
and at the end of a few months they were divorced 
in France, in November, 1813. 

" As soon as King Ferdinand re-entered Spain, 
Dona Pilar returned to Fuentepelayo, to her 
family, with her two-and-a-half-year-old son, and 
lived there six years in perfect tranquillity. 

" Don Joaquin de Monti jo remained in France 
on half -pay until 1820, when the King of Spain 
took the oath to the Constitution of the Cortes. 
He then re-entered Spain in order to join the new 
government and went to live near Arevala, his 
native town, where he had an estate. From there, 
Senor de Montijo wrote to his wife to send him his 
son. Dona Pilar answered that she would not do so 
and that if he wished to see the boy he could do so by 
coming to her. Senor de Montijo decided to go in 
order to bring back his son, but Dona Pilar would 
not agree to part with him. After a few weeks 
Don Joaquin again went to see his son ; the second 
visit was less stormy ; Don Joaquin again fell in 
love with his wife and, after several visits, they 
decided to live together. In Spain only the 
Penansades family and Don Joaquin 's two brothers 
were aware of the French divorce. 

" Senora de Montijo left Fuentepelayo and her 
family and went with her son to Arevala, to her 
husband's house, in July, 1820. This reunion 
gave them a few years of happiness, broken only 
by death. In 1823 Don Joaquin fell from his 
horse and, after three months of sickness, died on 
October 30, 1823. 

" His son, Don Augustin de Montijo, inherited 


his father's estates. His mother was the trustee, 
and she continued to live near Arevala in her hus- 
band's house. 

" His daughter, then nine months old, died 
shortly after his death. This was not Dona Pilar's 
last misfortune, for in the month of September 
last, she lost her only son, whom she loved so 
dearly that she never left him even for a moment. 
He was a healthy boy of fifteen, and died of small- 

" Dona Pilar's pain was still further increased, 
if this were possible, by the conduct of her two 
brothers-in-law, Don Antonio and Don Branlio 
de Monti jo, who made her leave her late husband's 
house, under the pretext that she could not call 
herself his widow because of the divorce. The 
High Court decided on January 16, 1827, that 
* whereas a divorce was granted in 1813 in France, 
and notwithstanding posterior cohabitation, the 
estates shall be returned to the brothers of the late 
Joaquin de Montijo, his legitimate heirs in the 
absence of direct heirs.' 

" Dona Pilar de Penansade, widow de Montijo, 
appealed from this decision to the Royal Chancery 
of Valladolid. Here is its decision : 

" ' Whereas Dona Maria del Pilar was united 
on February 8, 1810, to the late Don Joaquin de 
Montijo and became his lawful wife, as is stated 
in the register of the parish of Saint Francis of 
Fuentepelayo ; 

" * Whereas the divorce of which Don Antonio 
and Don Branlio dc Montijo took advantage is 
contrary to divine, as well as Spanish, law, and was 
granted in a foreign country then under the sway 
of the government of an usurper, a government 
both irreligious nnd illegitimate, and consequently 
null in Spain ; 


" ' Whereas tlie said divorce was still further 
annulled by the remorse of the married couple, 
who became reunited and spent together the last 
three years of Don Joaquin de Montijo's life ; 

" * Whereas the latter was in no way obliged to 
make a last will, since he left two children and con- 
sidered that a will was not necessary to safeguard 
the interests of his lawful wife ; 

" * Whereas it is proper that the wishes of the 
deceased man should be interpreted in the light of 
his conduct during the last years of his life ; 

" ' This Court orders : 

" ' That the right of using and enjoying the 
profits of the estates left by Don Joaquin de 
Montijo belongs to his widow, etc. ; 

" ' That Don Antonio and Don "Rranlio de 
Montijo should pay the costs.' 

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