Albert D. (Albert Dresden) Vandam.

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of Pr6aut and his wife. Fleury pretended that he and
his relations had suffered at my hands, or, at any rate,
at the hands of my ''creatures," and he has supplied
Preaut with money ever since. Why did I leave Pr6aut
unmolested ? For a very good reason. If I had him
arrested and tried, he would get a twelvemonth's, at
the most two years' imprisonment, and be a hero and a
martyr for ever afterwards. At the elections following
his release he would become a deputy. At his trial he
would assume a defiant attitude, preserve a stubborn
silence, not because he had anything of importance to
reveal, but in order to impress the country with the idea
of his magnanimity in not divulging the names of his
fellow-conspirators, and so forth. Then there is an-
other thing. This very Pr6aut serves me as a sword of
Damocles, which I hold suspended over any and every
important official of the Prefecture of PoHce, from the
Prefect himself downward. The moment any of these
show a tendency to become "skittish," I throw the
failure of discovering the "Committee of Resistance"
in his face. It has generally the effect of "shutting
him up." There is a third consideration which makes

My Paris Note-Book. 57

me "lie low." Pr6aut would either preserve a stub-
born silence, or else ''blab" out all he knows. In the
latter case, it would not be difficult to identify Fleury,
mind, one of the most devoted friends of the Emperor
himself, and the Emperor would be charged with having
taken the role of agent provocateur out of the hands of
the police, to assume it himself No, things are better
as they are, and the little money Preaut costs me is well
spent' "

Thus far my uncle's note, which, like all the others
in my possession, I never saw until the death of both
brothers. I may be permitted to add a short one of
my own in . connection with this particular story. Fre-
quently during our strolls in Paris, when I had reached
years of discrimination, we came upon the handbills of
the ''Committee of Resistance," and as frequently I
used to remark upon the shortcomings of the police
with regard to them. These remarks were invariably
received by both my relatives with a silent smile. They
never hinted that they were the custodians (in common
with Fleury and the Emperor) of a secret in connection
with those threatening scraps of print. Something else.
Up to this day, when the Empire is stark dead, when
pretty well everything concerning it has been told, when
those who profess to have been instrumental in over-
throwing it have received their rewards, no one has ever
come forward as an erstwhile member of the * ' Commit-
tee of Resistance," though even now it is alluded to at
rare intervals by the ultra- Republican papers as "that
powerful organisation which effectually kept in check the
man of the 2nd December^ and prevented the spirits of
the true friends of liberty from falling below the freezing-
point." Can you refrain from laughter, friends?

58 My Paris Note-Book.


Some notes on Victor Emmanuel — His portrait in later years —
The sculptor Marochetti's opinion of Victor Emmanuel's physi-
cal appearance — A note of my younger grand-uncle — ^Victor
Emmanuel's dislike of politics and finesse — A reception at the
Tuileries — Victor Emmanuel and Napoleon III. — Victor Em-
manuel as a raconteur. — Massimo d'Azeglio's stories of Victor
Emmanuel— His estimate of the man and of the King— Victor
Emmanuel's idea of accomplishing the unification of Italy — His
dislike of etiquette and restraint — A hunting-story — Victor Em-
manuel at La Mandria— Rosina Vercellana, afterwards Contessa
di Mirafiori ; Victor Emmanuel's morganatic wife — Victor Em-
manuel's appetite— The story of his hair-dye and "make-up" —
Contessa Rosina and the King at home— Contessa Rosina wants
to dye her hair also — Contessa Rosina's temper — Napoleon III.
on morganatic wives.

I HAVE by me some notes which, though not dated,
were evidently written in the middle of the fifties, during
(or perhaps after) the visit of Victor Emmanuel to the
Emperor. They do not relate to political questions,
albeit that the name of Massimo d'Azeglio crops up in
them once or twice. It is well known that the son-in-
law of Manzoni accompanied Victor Emmanuel during
his voyage. Nor can I state positively whether any of
the conversations recorded in these notes were held ex-
clusively with the painter of ' ' Orlando Furioso. " I am
under the impression, however, that the notes are the
result of conversations with Napoleon III., but that
some remarks of the painter-author and statesman in
one to my younger grand-uncle led to these conversa-
tions. My uncles, I fancy, had no idea that these notes

My Paris Note-Book. 59

would ever prove useful to their nephew, who, to say
the least, gave no promise at that time of embracing
either journalism or literature as a profession. They
scribbled for their own amusement, just as I did at first,
hence the still-chaotic state of these documents.

I saw Victor Emmanuel three or four times during
a short journey to Italy two years before the outbreak of
the Franco-German War. His portraits and the ac-
counts of those who had been very close to him had
prepared me for the sight of a very ugly man, not to
say a facial deformity. Well, I frankly confess that I
did not think him ugly at all. I could name straight
off a half-dozen eminent men whom I have known, who
were distinctly uglier than he. The great drawback to
his appearance was his corpulence and shortness of
stature, and both these disappeared to a great extent
when he was in uniform and on horseback. I never saw
him in mufti or on foot, and that may explain my disa-
greement with the general opinion, though I do not
stand alone in that disagreement. When the great
sculptor Marochetti had finished the statue of Victor
Emmanuel's father, Charles Albert, he openly said that
he would have preferred carving that of the son ; then
added — *' He is certainly not handsome, our sovereign ;
but with him as a model, I could have produced a strik-
ing, original work, for there is something picturesque,
nay, savage and barbaric about him which would lend
itself to a grandiose conception. In marble or bronze
he would look like a chief of the Huns, a leader of
barbarians. Put him on horseback, and his appearance
will favourably compare with that of any prince or sover-
eign in Europe, not excepting the Hohenzollerns and
the Romanoffs."

My younger uncle had virtually arrived at the same

6o My Paris Note-Book.

conclusion several years before. ' ' I saw Victor Em-
manuel riding by the side of the Emperor," he wrote in
one of the notes referred to above, ' ' and plain as he may
be in the conventional acceptation of the term, I could
not help being struck by the face. I have never seen
the like among the better classes, let alone among the
members of the royal houses ; and yet he did not ap-
pear a bit out of place amidst the brilliant cortege arpund
him ; on the contrary, in spite of his short stature, he
seemed to tower above them all, although there were
some positive giants among them — Russian and Ger-
man princes, I was told. The blue eyes, the fierce
moustache, but, above all, that matchless, I might
say phenomenal nose, impart an air of determination
and obstinate daring which it is difficult to describe.
I cannot say what the future may have in store
for Victor Emmanuel and Italy ; but of one thing
I feel certain — if that future has to be shaped by diplo-
macy alone, and if that diplomacy has to be shaped by
the son of Charles Albert, there will be no united Italy
in his lifetime, for, on the face of it, he has not got an
ounce oi finesse in him. Ferrari* told me yesterday
that they have the greatest difficulty in making him dis-
cuss a political question. The other night, however,
d'AzegHo and some others of the King's suite were
rubbing their hands with great glee. For nearly an
hour the King was engaged in an apparently serious
conversation with the Emperor ; both monarchs were
evidently very pleased with one another, especially the
Emperor, who, though he often smiles, rarely laughs.
^ Joseph Ferrari was an Italian by birth, but spent the greater
part of his time in France. He was, and is still considered, one
of the greatest authorities on the history of " Revolutionary Italy,"
but his book best known in France is " Philosophes Salaries." He
died in Rome in 1876.

My Paris Note-Book, 6i

He was, however, heard to laugh outright twice or three
times during that hour. Of course, every one stood
respectfully aside, so that not a word of the conversation
was overheard ; nevertheless, the Italians were delighted,
for they felt certain that Victor Emmanuel was gradually
becoming alive to the necessity of being a diplomatist as
well as a soldier and sovereign. While we were talking,
Ferrari and I, strolling up and down m front of Tor-
toni's, my brother came up ; he was beaming all over his
face, and chuckling to himself, as is his habit when
pleased. I had not seen him since the early morning ;
it had been my turn to attend to our gratuitous clientele^
and I knew that he intended to go to the Tuileries to
request a favour of the Emperor for one of our proteges.
* Did the Emperor promise you the place ?' I asked him
the moment he joined us. * Yes,' was the answer ; ' I
might have asked for anything I liked, for I never saw
the Emperor so pleased as he was this morning. The
whole of the transaction was settled in about five minutes,
but I remained for more than two hours, during which
the Emperor told me about a dozen of the funniest, but
at the same time spiciest garrison and hunting stories I
have ever heard. They all come from Victor Emmanuel,
who, it appears, entertained him with them for an hour
or more the other night, at the grand reception at the
Tuileries. ' But the best of it was,' said the Emperor,
'that all the while his Majesty's aides-de-camp and
sundry chamberlains stood at a distance looking as
grave as owls, and taking it for granted that we were
settling the map of Europe.' I looked at Ferrari, and
Ferrari looked at me, but he walked away without
saying a word."

"Ferrari," says another note which Is obviously a
sequel to the last, * * did not get over his disappointment
e 6

62 My Paris Note-Book.

for at least forty-eight hours. I met him this morning
in company with d* Azeglio, to whom he introduced me.
Ferrari had told him my brother's story, and almost as
a matter of course the conversation turned on the subject
of Victor Emmanuel's dislike of all restraint and eti-
quette. ' He feels cramped and cabined at Court, even
at his own,' remarked d' Azeglio. * I do not mean to say
that he despises the arts and refinements of our epoch,
but he feels a kind of pity for them. If he could have
his way, the question of a united Italy would be settled
in a day, without the aid of diplomacy, or without the
aid of armies for that matter. He would simply chal-
lenge every sovereign whom he considers an obstacle to
the realisation of that idea, to single combat, Francis
Joseph included. But he would hold his hand at Pius,
even if Pius were as young and vigorous as he, Victor
Emmanuel, is. Some of us call this feeling of moral
fear — for I need not tell you that physical fear has no
place in his heart — superstition ; others call it religion.
Whatever it be, it will be productive of curious results
in the final attempts to create a united Italy. We may
live to see this, and then you'll remember my words.*
Such armies as the Holy Father, whether it be Pius or
his successor, will be able to call to his aid will not avail
In the least finally, even if they succeed in checking
Victor Emmanuel's advance at first ; but I'll tell you
what would stop him, provided he himself headed his
own troops — the Pope himself, in full pontificals, the
triple tiara on his head, the ring of St. Peter on his
finger, and the cross in his outstretched hand. Prac-
tically, I am a more fervent Catholic, though perhaps
not a more fervent Liberal, than the King, and I doubt
whether such an appearance would make me recoil one
» Massimo d' Azeglio did not live to see this. He died in 1866.

My Paris Note-Book. 63

single step ; but it would have that effect upon Victor
Emmanuel. In short, the King is, in my opinion, a
phenomenon, for in spite of his illustrious origin, in
spite of the advantages of education and surroundings,
he is not only a stranger to all refinement, but it is
throughout irksome to him. He does things for which
it is almost logically impossible to account, and not out
of mere affectation, but simply because his nature prompts
him to do them. Here is one among many. A couple
of years ago, during a shooting expedition round about
the Col di Tende^ he and an intimate friend, having come
considerably out of the way, were obliged to take shelter
for the night in a poor peasant's hut, and what was worse,
perhaps, in a poor peasant's hut the occupants of which as
well as the hut were the reverse of clean or savoury. After
their frugal supper, they gathered round the log fire, and
whether it was the effect of the heat or something else,
the friend, who was by no means squeamish, averted his
face from their host, and persistently kept it averted
until the king himself could not help noticing it.
' What's the matter ?' he asked in a low voice. ' Noth-
ing much,' was the answer in the same tone; 'only
this man smells Hke a wild beast in his den.* * Is that
all,' laughed the King ; ' so should we if we didn't wash
for a week.' 'Never to that extent, your Majesty.'
* That's what you think ? Well, I'll make you a bet on
it ; I'll try.' The King was as good as his word ; or,
at any rate, he conscientiously endeavoured to win his
wager. But at the end of the fifth day his friend re-
spectfully put his arm on his. ' Your Majesty has won
his wager, not at the end of the week, but in two days
less.' Victor Emmanuel burst out laughing ; neverthe-
less, according to the loser of the wager, ' he did not
hurry to part with the trophies of his victory.*

64 My Paris Note-Book.

* ' ' This is almost of a piece with what he does at La
Mandria," continued d'AzegHo. 'Seeing that the
walls with which he chose to enclose the demesne cost
close upon a million of lire, I need not tell you that
there was sufficient room to have built a comfortable
dwelling-house away from the stables, cow-houses, and
the rest, even if he wanted to indulge his dislike to
staircases. He might have erected a dozen, nay a
score, of one-storied houses. But, for no earthly reason
whatever, he built a two-storied house, that is, a ground
floor and a story atop of it, and lodged all his animals
— a perfect menagerie, apart from the cows, horses, pigs,
and poultry — on the ground floor, so that there is abso-
lutely not a single living room into which the pungent
smell from below does not penetrate. He maintains
that it is the best soporific in the world. I pledge you
my word that a soporific is the last thing he wants, as
his officers sleeping in the apartment next to him know
to their cost. Luckily, he is a very early riser, and
does not mind in the least being left to tramp about the
the farm by himself, or, for that matter, going out alone
either in town or country. As for the place itself, part
of it looks like a fourth or fifth rate zoological garden,
and a badly-kept zoological garden, while the land, ex-
cept in a few rare spots, is very poor. There are over
5000 hectares of it. The interior, with the exception
of one room, is simply a model of discomfort to any
one with the most elementary notions of comfort.
Faded curtains ; very few carpets, and these all thread-
bare ; rickety furniture. Save the chairs and tables,
the former of which are uncompromisingly hard, there

' La Mandria, situated at about four miles from Turin, was Vic-
tor Emmanuel's favourite residence, and was built by him for
Rosina Vercellana, afterwards Contessa di Mirafiori.

My Paris Note-Book, 65

is not an article that would not be contemptuously re-
jected by the poorest country gentleman, and that
means something, seeing that in our outlying districts
and provincial towns we are not at all fastidious in those
matters. And when one comes to the exceptional room
in the house, the Contessa Rosina's drawing-room, one
is inclined to envy the poverty of the remainder. To
find the counterpart of that room in Paris, you would
have to go to one of the large cafes on the outer Boule-
vards just after it has been ' redecorated ;' large masses
of gilding and looking-glasses everywhere, and the fur-
niture in keeping with the whole. As for the Contessa di
Mirafiori herself — I am giving her her new title, though
I am confident that the people will never call her any-
thing but Rosina — she is a good creature, provided you
know how to manage her, which at times is by no means
an easy task, just because at the first blush it seems
easy. She has neither the ambition nor the intellect of
a Maintenon, a Pompadour, or even of a DuBarry.
Her afiection for Victor Emmanuel does not even spring
from the causes that fascinated La Valliere. Unlike La
Valliere, she does not love the King, because he is, in
her opinion, the most brilliant among a brilliant throng ;
for, in truth, the King is not very brilliant, nor his
throng ; she simply loves him as the strong, healthy
peasant lass loves the robust, vigorous peasant lad ; she
would have loved him if he had been no more than one
of her father' s fellow-soldiers — instead of being the first
in the land — for Vercellana was only a trooper in the
King's Bodyguard — a company like the Emperor's
Cent Gardes — though he is an officer now. Rosina is
as proud of her bodily strength as is the King, and
seldom misses an opportunity of showing it. Here is
an instance of such an exhibition, which, let me add,


66 My Paris Note-Book.

was contrived for a double purpose, showing that Ro-
sina, though not possessed of a high order of intellect,
can be very crafty when it suits her. About a twelve-
month ago a very intimate and sincere friend of Victor
Emmanuel felt convinced that Rosina had done him a
bad turn, and slightly poisoned the King's mind against
him. He felt determined not to sit down tamely under
such injustice — to go and see the King and ask for an
explanation. The King was in villegiatura, and had
just sat down to breakfast with Rosina when the visitor
was announced. I ought to tell you that the latter is
one of the most splendid, stalwart creatures you would
meet anywhere ; he is reputed to be the handsomest and
strongest man in Piedmont. The moment he entered
the room Rosina knew what he had come for ; so with-
out giving him time to say a word, she got up, appar-
ently overjoyed to see him, and flung herself with all
her might on his breast. Taken unawares, he, of
course, staggered for a moment under this vigorous
welcome ; thereupon Rosina, beaming with delight,
turned round, saying — "You see, Victor, you thought
your friend very strong ; well, I nearly threw him
down." The King laughed, his friend could but follow
suit, and the danger of an explanation was averted — at
least for that day.

"'In spite of his embonpoint y^ d'Azeglio went on,
* the King is not only very strong, but likes to appear
stronger than he is. He has an almost undisguised
contempt for weaklings; "carpet-knights" he posi-
tively abhors, and he frequently inveighs about their
"pomatums and cosmetics." And yet, he is not above
using "make-up" himself, though not "for the sake of
looking pretty, " as he styles their attempts. Truly, no
such wish influences him — quite the contrary. It is not

My Paris Note-Book. 67

generally known that originally the King's hair and
moustache were fair. But on the morning of the battle
of Novara he discovered that he did not look fierce
enough. He would there and then have changed his
** milksop's appearance," as he called it, but, as you
may imagine, the materials to that effect were not at
hand. Certain it Is, however, that a few days later not
only his hair and moustache had become darker, but
the face was considerably tanned and sprinkled with
brown spots, the result of the unskilful application of
the dye. Since then he has grown somewhat more
deft ; but at the best of times he is not very clever at
* * faking, ' ' and as he hates barbers or valets to come
near him, he often presents a comical sight, especially
when he has been away from Rosina for a week or so,
for when he is with her she attends to the operation. I
really believe that It is about the only artifice of which
Victor Emmanuel has ever been guilty. But now comes
the funnier part of the story. Rosina also took a fancy
to dyeing her hair. One of the officers in attendance
upon His Majesty told her of the women of Titian, and
of the particular hue of their tresses, and went as far as
to get the necessary chemicals for Rosina. When the
King heard of this he flew Into a towering rage, and
Rosina was obliged to leave her really beautiful hair
alone. I feel almost certain that It was the only dis-
agreement they ever had, for they are really very united
and fond of one another, and In this instance the close
bond springs not from a dissimilarity of tastes and dis-
position, but from a similarity. The conventionalities
and restraints of ' * good society' ' are as irksome to her
as to him. From the story of her flinging herself upon
the neck of the visitor, in order to avoid an explanation,
you may gather that she is not devoid of tact of a cer-

68 My Paris Note-Book.

tain kind. She has the sense to know that she would
be at a disadvantage among women of birth and educa-
tion, whom, to her credit be it said, she never tries to
ape in manners or speech, and so she avoids coming in
contact with them. She is fond of the theatre, and
when in Turin, goes very frequently ; but the higher
form of the drama, and even the opera, does not appeal
to her ; she likes a stirring melodrama or a roaring farce,
by preference, with light, catchy tunes in it ; and though
she always occupies a box, she never wears evening
dress. In fact, to look at her, you might take her for a
rich tradesman's wife with a taste for showy bonnets,
loud colours, and glittering diamonds. It is in the ex-
hibition of the latter that she is most often at fault ; for,
even when in walking costume, she is absolutely smoth-
ered in them. Like the majority of the women of the
class whence she sprang, * ' she dresses to go out ;' ' at
home, and especially at La Mandria, she is somewhat
careless, though not untidy in her attire. Like the
'* daughters of the people," she wears by preference
the camisola, and a kirtle reaching to her ankles ; and
it is rather curious to see the royal lover — the King of
united Italy that is to be — and his favourite seated at
breakfast. Her camisola is matched by his unbuttoned
shirt. As often as not, there is not even a cloth on the
table ; the salt lies in a heap by the King's plate ; he
invariably empties the salt-cellar in that way, because it
worries him to have to dip his spring onions, of which
he eats a great quantity, and raw, into the salt-cellar.
You look in vain for the bones on their plates ; if there
be any of the former at all, they will be found on the
floor, where the two or three dogs that are nearly always
in the room have left them after having had their fill.
Rosina is a fair trencher-woman, though, in comparison

My Paris Note-Book. 69

to Victor Emmanuel's, her appetite may be said to be
delicate, for the latter' s is almost phenomenal. Unlike
most Italians, he eats a great deal of meat, though he
by no means despises vegetables. A little while ago he
was on a shooting expedition in his favourite region
about the Col di Tende, and, as usual, they halted at a
farmer's house for supper. I am told that the hosts on
such occasions are invariably left in ignorance of the
high position of their guest, but I have my doubts
about the statement. Neither the King's appearance
nor his face are likely to remain unnoticed in a crowd,
let alone in an unfrequented, or little-frequented spot.
Be this as It may, the supper on that occasion consisted
of an enormous dish of veal cutlets. Towards the end
of the meal, the King, whose plate was absolutely
empty, seeing that he had given all his bones to the
dogs, asked his nearest neighbour to guess the number

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