kneel at her feet. He did not. The lady went to Paris,
and they never met again.
The artist at least owed Lola a service, since she had
been the unwitting instrument of a rupture so long
desired by him. But he valued his newly-recovered
freedom too highly to jeopardise it by linking his life
again with a woman's. His love affair with Lola may
have been simply an infatuation. Lucio would soon
have tired of Gioconda had he lived with her. We
hardly know how this brief love story began ; we are
quite in the dark as to how it ended. A report was
current that the two travelled together from Dresden
to Paris, where both appeared in the spring of '44.
We do not hear that they were seen together in the
French capital, so the adieux may already have been
exchanged. Liszt stayed there but a few weeks, and
then started on a tour through the French departments.
Then he crossed the Pyrenees, and pushed as fÂ£ir south
as Gibraltar. Less than three years later he was in the
toils of a third woman â€” the Princess Zu Sa5ai- Witt-
genstein, with whom his relations endured twelve years.
It is noteworthy that he and Lola turned their thoughts
from love to religion almost at the same time, though
half a world lay between them.
Of the third actor in this little drama it is hardly
within my province to speak. The Comtesse d'Agoult
found consolation in the care of her children and in
those wider interests of which she never tired. She
ardently espoused the cause of the Revolution in 1848.
More fortunate than her old lover, she never lost the
sane and generous sympathies of her youth. You may
read her Souvenirs, published at Paris the year after her
death (1877). Liszt long survived the women who had
loved him â€” not a fate that either of them would have
AT THE BANQUET OF THE IMMORTALS
Lola's first appearance in Paris was, like her debut
at Her Majesty's, a fiasco. Thanks, no doubt, to her
reputation for beauty and audacity, she secured an
engagement at the Opera, then under the management
of Leon Pillet. The power behind the throne was the
great Madame Stoltz, who some years later was to be
hooted off the stage by a hostile cUque just as Lola had
been nine months before. At that time, however, no
one dreamed of a revolt against the all-powerful cantatrice
whose favour the danseuse was fortunate to procure.
The great Stoltz looked best and was luckiest in men's
parts, and therefore saw no rival in the now famous
Lola, accordingly, made her bow to the Parisian
public on Saturday, 30th March 1844, in II Lazzarone,
an opera in two acts by Hal^vy. Her audience was more
fastidious than the playgoers of Dresden and Warsaw.
Her beauty ravished them, but in her dajicing they saw
little merit. Seeing this, Lola made a chcuracteristic
bid for their favour. Her satin shoe had shpped off.
Seizing it, she threw it with one of her superb gestures
into the boxes, where it was pounced upon and bran-
dished as a precious rehc by a gentleman of fashion.
The manoeuvre seems to have succeeded in its object,
for the ConstituHonnel next morning found it necessary
to warn young dancers against the danger of factitious
applause, while " abstaining from criticising too severely
a pretty woman who had not had time to study Parisian
tastes." Theophile Gautier was less gallant : â€”
" We are reluctant," he writes, " to speak of Lola
Montes, who reminds us by her Christian name of one
of the prettiest women of Granada, and by her surname
of the man who excited in us the most powerful dramatic
emotions we have ever experienced â€” Montes, the most
illustrious espada of Spain. The only thing Anda-
lusian about Mile. Lola Montes is a pair of magnificent
black eyes. She gabbles Spanish very indifferently,
French hardly at all, and English passably \sic]. Which
is her country ? That is the question. We may say
that Mile. Lola has a littl^ foot and pretty legs. Her
use of these is another matter. The curiosity excited
by her adventures with the northern police, and her
conversations, a coups de cravache, with the Prussian
gens d'armes, has not been satisfied, it must be admitted.
MUe. Lola Montes is certainly inferior to Dolores Serrai,
who has, at least, the advantage of being a real Spaniard,
and redeems her imperfections as a dancer by a volup-
tuous abandon, and an admirable fire and precision of
rhythm. We suspect, after the recital of her equestrian
exploits, that MUe. Lola is more at home in the saddle
than on the boards."
As at Her Majesty's, so at the Opera. Lola's first
appearance was her last. For the rest of the year, as
far as I can learn, she was out of an engagement. She
had, no doubt, made some money during her German
and Russian tour, and Liszt would not have forgotten
he when he started on his southern tour at the end of
At the Banquet of the Immortals
If her association with him had begotten in Lola
Montez a thirst for wit and genius, she had every chance
of slaking it in Paris. There were giants on the earth
in those days, and they were all gathered together on the
banks of the Seine. It is not too much to say that since
the Medici ruled in Florence, no capital has boasted so
brilliant an assemblage of men of genius as did Paris under
the paternal government of July. In the year '44,
Victor Hugo, attended by a score of minor poets, daily
appeared on his balcony to acknowledge the homage
of the public ; Lamartine was dividing his attention
between pohtics and hterature. Alfred de Musset was
wrecking his constitution by spasms of debauchery.
Balzac was dodging his creditors, playing truant from
the National Guard, and finding time to write his
" Com^die Humaine " ; Th^ophile Gautier, a man of
thirty-three, if he had not yet received the fuU meed of
his genius, was already well known and widely appre-
ciated. Alexandre Dumas had long since become a
national institution, and his son was looking out for
copy among the ladies of the demi-monde. Delphine
Gay was writing her brilliant " Lettres Parisiennes "
for her husband's newspaper. The Salon was still
rejecting the masterpieces of Delacroix, but Vemet was
painting the ceiUng of the Palais Bourbon. Auber,
though past the prime of life, had not yet scored his
greatest success. Paris was like Athens in the age of
Life was really worth living then, when Louis Phillippe
was king. He was an honest, kindly-natured man,
this pear-headed potentate, who reigned, " comme la
corniche r^gne autour d'un plafond." He was the king
of the bourgeois, and he looked it every inch, with his
white felt hat and respectable umbrella ; but in the calm
sunshine of his reign the arts flourished and the world
was gay. Those days before the Revolution remind
us of that strange picture in our National Gallery, " The
Eve of the Deluge." Paris, as the old stagers regretfully
assure us, was Paris then, and not the caravanserai of
all the nations of the world. The good Americans who
died then, had they gone to Paris, would have thought
they had reached the wrong destination. Men of
Pontus and Asia had not then made the French capital
their own. The invasion of the Barbarians, says Gustave
Claudin, took place in 1848. They came, not conducted
by Attila, but by the newly-constructed railways. As
these strangers had plenty of money to spend, they
naturally sought the most fashionable quarters.
" The true Parisians disappeared in the crowd, and
knew not where to find themselves. In the evening,
the restaurants where they used to dine, the stalls
and boxes where they used to assist at the opera and
the play, were taken by assault by cohorts of sight-
seers wishing to steep themselves up to the neck in
la vie Parisienne."
The tide of the invasion has never diminished in
volume, and the true Parisian has become extinct.
In the year 1844 the fine flower of Parisian society
was in undisputed possession of the Boulevard â€” the
quarter between the Opera and the Rue Drouot.
" By virtue of a selection which no one contested,"
says the author just quoted, " nobody was tolerated
there who could not lay claim to some sort of distinc-
tion or originality. There seemed to exist a kind of
invisible moral barrier, closing this area against the
At the Banquet of the Immortals
mediocre, the insipid, and the insignificant, who passed
by, but did not linger, knowing that their place was not
The headquarters of the noble company of the
Boulevard was the famous Ca.i6 de Paris, at the comer
of the Rue Taitbout. Dumas, Balzac, and Alfred de
Musset were to be seen there twice or thrice a week ;
the eccentric Lord Seymour, founder of the French
Jockey Club, had his own table there. Lola, doubtless,
often tasted the unsurpassed cuisine of this celebrated
restaurant, for she soon penetrated into the circle of
the Olympians, and was presented with the freedom of
She met Claudin (who indeed knew everybody).
" Lola Montez," he says, " was an enchantress.
There was about her something provoking and volup-
tuous which drew you. Her skin was white, her wavy
hair like the tendrils of the woodbine, her eyes tameless
and wild, her mouth like a budding pomegranate.
Add to that a dashing figure, charming feet, and perfect
grace. Unluckily," the notice concludes, " as a dancer
she had no talent."
That multiple personality whom Vandam embodies
in " An Englishman in Paris " admits that Lola was
naturally graceful, that her gait and carriage were those
of a duchess. When he goes on to say that her wit was
that of a pot-house, I seem to detect one of his not
infrequent lapses from the truth. Only three years had
elapsed since Lola had shone in Court circles in India,
where the social atmosphere was not that of a bar-room ;
and since then she had been wandering about in countries
where her ignorance of the language must have left
her manner of speech and modes of thought almost
unaffected. Pot-house wit would not have fascinated
Liszt, nor the fastidious Louis of Bavaria. " Men of
far higher intellectual attainments than mine, and
famihar with very good society," admits our nebulous
chronicler,! " raved and kept raving about her."
Dumas, he says in another place, was as much smitten
with her as her other admirers. This, of course, is no
guarantee of her refinement, for the genial Creole had
the reputation of not being over nice in his attachments
and amours. He was then in the prime of life, and may
be considered to have just reached the zenith of his
fame by the pubKcation of " Les Trois Mousquetaires,"
" Monte Cristo," and " La Reine Margot " (1844-5).
Two years before he had formally and legally married
Mademoiselle Ida Ferrier â€” this step, so inconsistent
with his temperament and mode of life, having resulted
from his own reckless disregard of the conventions.
The lady had fascinated him while she was interpreting
a rdle of his creation at the Porte-St.-Martin. It did
not strike him that it would be irregular to take her with
him to a ball given by his patron, the Duke of Orleans,
and he straightway did so. " Of course, my dear
Dumas," said His Highness affably, " it is only your
wife that you would think of presenting to me." Poor
Alexandre, the lover of all women and none in par-
ticular, was hoisted with his own petard. A prince's
hints, above all when he is your patron and publisher,
are commands. Dumas was led to the altar, like a sheep
to the slaughter, by the charming Ida. Chateaubriand
supported the bridegroom through the ordeal. However
* All the statements made concerning Lola in " An Englishman in
Paris " must be received with caution, as they can only be taken at
the best as hearsay evidence transcribed by Vandam.
ALEXANDRE DUMAS. SENIOR.
At the Banquet of the Immortals
the chains of matrimony sat Hghtly on the irrepressible
romancier. Madame Dumas soon after departed for
Florence, greatly to the relief of her spouse. He was
Uving, at the time of Lola's visit to Paris, at the VUla
M6dicis at St. Germain. There he could superintend
the building of his palace of Monte Cristo, on the road
to Marly, apart of which, with imperturbable sang-froid,
he actually raised on the land belonging to a neighbour,
without so much as a " by your leave." This ambitious
residence emptied Dumas's pockets of the little money
that the ladies he loved had left in them.
Alexandre, of course, feU passionately in love with
Lola Montez. We need no written assurance of that.
We read that he told her that she had acted " hke a
gentleman " in her treatment of Frederick WiUiam's
policemen, and with what far-fetched compliments he
followed up this commendation it is easy to imagine.
There were certain resemblances in their temperaments,
though the woman was far the stronger. Posterity
is never likely to agree on an estimate of Dumas's
character. Theodore de Banville thought him a truly
" Dumas," he wrote, " had no more need to husband
his strength and his vitality than a river has to econo-
mise with its waters, and it seemed, in fact, that he
held in his strong hands inexhaustible urns, whence
flowed a stream always clear and hmpid. In what
formidable metal had he been cast ? Once he took it
into his head to take his son, Alexandre, to the masked
ball of Grados, at the Barri^re Montparnasse, and,
attired as a postilion, the great man danced all night
without resting for a moment, and held women with his
outstretched arm, hke a Hercules. When he returned
home in the morning, he found that his postihon's
breeches had, through the sweUing of the muscles,
become impossible to remove ; so Alexandre was
obliged to cut them into strips with a penknife. After
that what did the historian of the Mousquetaires do ?
Do you think he chose his good clean sheets or a warm
bath ? He chose work ! And having taken some
bouillon, set himself down before his writing paper,
which he continued to fill with adventures till the
evening, with as much ' go ' and spirit as if he had come
from calm repose.
" Nature has given up making that kind of man ;
by way of a change, she turns out poets, who, having
composed a single sonnet, pass the rest of their Hves
contemplating themselves and â€” their sonnets."
Prodigious ! It is gratifying to think that this in-
defatigable worker had always two sincere admirers â€”
himself and his son. The latter, it is true, would have
his joke at the former's expense. " My father," re-
marked the son, " is so vain that he would be ready to
hang on to the back of his own carriage, to make people
believe he kept a black servant." Notwithstanding,
the two loved each other tenderly. Innumerable
anecdotes bear witness to the paternal fondness of the
one, the filial devotion of the other. Yet their relation
was more that of two sworn friends, as is so touchingly
expressed in these lines from the " Pfere Prodigue " : â€”
"... I have sought your affection, more than your
obedience and respect. ... To have all in common,
heart as well as purse, to give and to tell each other
everything, such has been our device. We have lost,
it seems, several himdred thousands of francs ; but
this we have gained â€” the power of counting always
on one another, thou on me, I on thee, and of being
ready always to die for each other. That is the most
important thing between father and son."
At the Banquet of the Immortals
These are the words of Frenchmen. An Englishman
would have put such language into the mouths of hus-
band and wife.
Enjoying the friendship of Dumas phre, Lola no
doubt had the privilege of meeting Alexandre junior.
The young man was then in his twenty-first year, and
had piled up debts to the respectable total of fifty
thousand francs. It was just about this time, as has
been said, that he turned his attention to Uterature.
He found " copy " for his most celebrated work in the
pale, flower-Uke courtesan, Alphonsine Plessis, who
shared with Lola the devotion of the erotic Boulevard.
The two were women of very different stamp. The
Irish woman confronted the world with head erect and
flashing eyes ; the Lady of the Camellias, with a blush
and trembling lips. They were typical of two great
classes of women : those who rule men, and those whom
men rule. The loved of the God of Love died young.
After Alphonsine's early death, the fair Parisiennes
flocked to her apartments, as to the shrine of some patron
saint, and touched, as though they were precious relics,
her jewellery and trinkets, her lingerie, and her slippers.
Another most delightful friend had Lola â€” he whom she
refers to in her autobiography as " the celebrated poet,
M^ry." To describe this charming and impossible
personage as a poet, is to indicate only one department
of his genius : as a dramatist he was not far inferior
to his great contemporaries, as a noveUst he revealed
an amazing power of paradox, and a bewildering fertility
of imagination. He wrote descriptions of countries he
had never seen (though he had travelled far), which,
by their accuracy and colour, deceived and deUghted
the very natives. He was not merely rich in rhymes,
said Dumas, he was a mUhonaire. He could write, too,
in more serious vein, and was a profound and ardent
In 1845 Mery was approaching his half-century.
Thirty years before he had come to Paris from Marseilles
in hot pursuit of a pamphleteer who had dared to
attack him. He found time to cross swords with
somebody else, and got the worst of the encounter.
As a result he took a voyage to Italy for the benefit
of his health. His adventures remind us alternatively
of those of Brantome and Benvenuto CeUini. At a
later period he was associated with Barthelemy in an
intrigue for the restoration of the Bonapartes ; and
went to pay his respects to Queen Hortense, while
his colleague vainly endeavoured to talk with the
Eaglet through the gilded bars of his cage.
Mery could, in short, do everything, and everything
very well. He possessed the faculty of turning base
metal into gold. Geese in his eyes became swans, and
in every lump of literary coke he saw a diamond of the
purest ray. It was, above all, in his dramatic criticism,
remarks De Banville, that this faculty produced the
most surprising results.
" One day, reading in Mery's review the pretended
recital of a comedy of which I was the author, I could
not but admire its gaiety, grace, unexpected turns,
and happy confusion, and I said to myself : ' Ah, if
only this comedy were really the one I wrote ! ' "
On another occasion, says the poet, at the theatre,
" he said to me : ' What a superb drama ! ' â€” and he
was perfectly right. The play, as he described it to
me, was, in fact, superb, only unfortunately it had
been entirely reconstructed by Mery on the absurd
foundation imagined by Mr. * * * . The denouement
he invented â€” for though the third act was not finished,
he spoke of the fifth as an old acquaintance â€” was of
such tragic power and daring originaUty, that after
hearing him expound it, I had no desire to witness
Reviewers and dramatic critics of this kind are now,
These few anecdotes sufficiently justify De Banville's
claim that Mery was something altogether unheard of
and fabulously original. He should have been (and
probably was) the happiest of men, and his pecuhar
powers must have hghtened his critical labours as much
as they benefited those he criticised. He was as
incapable of envy as Dumas was of rancour. Certainly
no more lovable and agreeable creature ever haunted
the slopes of Parnassus.
I doubt if such men would be appreciated in our
society. Ours is the reign of the glum Boeotian. We
know not how to converse, and wits are as dead as
kings' jesters. There is no scholarship in our senate,
and the standard of oratory there would not have
satisfied an Early Victorian debating society. If we
talk less, assuredly we do not think the more. Every
social, political, and religious idea that occupies our dull
brains had entered into the consciousness of the men of
the 'forties. They thought quickly and talked bril-
liantly. Their young men were youths â€” full of fire,
enthusiasm, love, and fun. They did not talk about the
advantages of devotion to business in early life. They
were not born tired. Wonderful, too, as it may seem,
people in those days used to like to meet each other in
social converse, and were not ashamed to admit it.
It was not then fashionable to affect a disinclination
for society â€” the handiest excuse for an inability to talk
and to think. Lola Montez learned in Paris what was
meant by the joie de vivre. In '45 wit was at the prow
and pleasure at the helm.
As an artiste, Lola was naturally anxious to conciliate
the Press, which had not spoken too kindly of her first
performance on the Paris stage. Gautier's unflattering
notice had appeared in one of the most influential
newspapers â€” La Presse. This journal was under the
direction of the famous De Girardin, the Harmsworth
of his generation. Till ist July 1836 the lowest annual
subscription to any newspaper in Paris was eighty
francs ; on that day De Girardin issued the first number
of La Presse at a subscription of forty francs a year.
This startling reduction in the price of news excited,
of course, no little animosity, but its successful results
were immediately manifest. The daring journalist's
next innovation was the creation of the feuilleton.
The new paper prospered exceedingly, though it repre-
sented the views of the editor rather than those of any
large section of the public. In 1840 De Girardin acquired
a half of the property, the other being held by Monsieur
Dujarier, who assumed the functions of hterary editor.
In 1845 Dujarier was a young man of twenty-nine,
a writer of no mean ability, and a smart journalist. He
was well known to all the Olympians of the Boulevard,
and entered with zest into the gay hfe of Paris. Lola
became acquainted with him soon after her arrival in
the capital, probably in an effort to win the paper over
to her side. He spent, she tells us, almost every hour
he could spare from his editorial duties with her, and in
his society she rapidly ripened in a knowledge of politics.
But before her political education had proceeded far,
the woman's beauty and the man's wit had produced the
effect that might have been looked for. " They read
no more that day" â€” Lola and Dujarier loved each other.
" This," continues our heroine, " was in autumn [the
autumn of '44], and the following spring the marriage
was to take place." I fancy the word " marriage "
is introduced here out of respect for the susceptibilities
of the American public. The Old Guard of the Boule-
vard, in Louis Philippe's golden reign, sejianga mais ne se
maria pas. Besides, Lola was still legally the wife
of that remote and forgotten of&cer. Captain James.
" It was arranged that Alexandre Dumas and the
celebrated poet, Mery, should accompany them on
their marriage tour through Spain." Dumas, Mery,
and Lola, to say nothing of Dujarier, travelling together
through Andalusia â€” ^here would have been a gallant
company indeed, with which one would have gladly
made a voyage even to Tartarus and back ! The narra-
tive, too, of the journey would have permanently
enriched literature. But the scheme has gone, these
sixty years, to the cloudy nether-world of glorious
The success of De Girardin's newspaper had intensely
embittered his competitors, who made it the object of
venomous attack. The founder dipped his pen in gall
and acid, and his sword in the blood of his enemies.
He fought four duels, and having killed Armand Carrel,
sheathed his rapier. But he did not lay aside his pen,
which was even more dreaded. Dujarier proved an
apt pupil, and by his command of irony and sarcasm
at last attracted to himself as much hatred and jealousy
as his senior. The special rival of his paper was the
Globe, edited by Monsieur Granier de Cassagnac, a
journalist of the type we now denominate yeUow. He
had at one time been on the staff of La Presse, to which
he remained financially indebted. Dujarier came across
the debit notes signed by him, and obtained a judgment
against him. The exasperation of the Globe knew no
bounds. The editor may be conceived addressing to
his satellites the reproaches used by Henry II. : " Of