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Hugh Fraser.

Reminiscences of a diplomatist's wife; further reminiscences of a diplomatist's wife in many lands online

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UNIVERSITY OF CA RlVIPi^l'Sfjih'^nifi^li



3 1210 01959 8307




REMINISCENCES

OF

A DIPLOMATIST'S WIFE




Copyrigtit. Iflon,

by Elliott & Krv. Ltd., London



MRS. HIGH FRASER



REMINISCENCES

OF

A DIPLOMATIST'S WIFE



Further Reminiscences of a Diplofnatisf s Wife
in Many Lands

BY

MRS. HUGH FRASER

AUTHOR OF «'A diplomatist's WIFE IN JAPAN"
"A diplomatist's wife in many LANDS," ETC.

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS




NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY

1912



Copyright, igi2
By Dodd, Mead and Company



Published November, 1912



INTRODUCTION

Since the following is a book of reminiscences, I think I am
justified in opening it with one from a side of my life for which
no place has been found either in this or the preceding volumes.
Some years ago I was honored by an invitation to lecture before
a certain distinguished Literary Society comprising among its
members many old friends of my own. The pleasure I felt
in being about to address these dear people on a subject rather
close to their hearts caused me to forget the etiquette usually
practised on such occasions. When the final notes of the over-
ture died away, I skipped lightly up the steps to the stage; but a
strong hand pulled me down, and the President's stern whisper
sounded in my ear, " Hold on, hold on ! I must introduce
you ! "

Feeling very small, I shrank back among the palms and azaleas,
while the kind President sounded my praises to the audience, in
terms so far beyond my merits that when he drew me forth from
my hiding place I was overcome with confusion. For a minute
or two I could not find my voice, and I had something like an
attack of stage- fright. But I had been introduced!

It seems that this book must go through the same cere-
mony. It came back to me from the Publishers with the curt
intimation, "Introduction required." What shall I say of it?
Only this, that it was asked for by the readers of its predecessors
and that I hope they will be as kind to it as they were to them.
Two years ago, with many tremors and hesitations, I sent the
" Diplomatist's Wife in Many Lands " out into the world, trust-
ing that its shortcomings would be forgiven for the sake of certain

V



INTRODUCTION

new and true things it had to tell. Its reception overwhelmed
me. The generous appreciation of far greater writers than my-
self, and the delighted sympathies of readers were conveyed to
me by every mail, till my hermitage in the Rockies became
peopled by a host of kindred spirits, loving what I loved, enjoy-
ing what I enjoyed, and all asking for " more."

If the " more " is somewhat less connected than the narrative
in the former volumes, that is because many events and experi-
ences in my life had to be omitted there for want of space.
Such as they are, may the following pages give some pleasure to
the readers who have crowned my other work with so much kind
approval and heartened the writer's lonely way with so much
encouragement. To that encouragement the present venture is
due, and to their judgment I commit it, only begging that they
will be "to its virtues very kind, to its faults a little blind."

Mary Crawford Fraser.

WiNTHROP, August 24, 1912.



VI



CONTENTS



I



Page



From the Odescalchi to Buckingham Palace . . i

A Roman Sunday — A Long-lost Uncle, and a Pearl — A Lover of Horace
Sees Rome in a Day — Recollections of my Aunt Medora — Strawberries,
Sunshine, and Songs — An Unmourned Mother-in-Law — Bath, the For-
saken — The Mistake of a Great Physician — I Make My Curtsey to My
Sovereign — "The First Turn at the Mill! "

II

In and Out of Bavaria 25

A Forgotten Picture in the House of Thought — A Premature Excursion
and a Breach of Discipline — The First Fairy Story — Croatian Nurses —
The Masked Lady — A Summer at Weissenbach — A Mad King and
a Wise Regent — The Emperor and Count Andrassy — Haynau the
Repressor.

Ill

Sovereigns, Treaties, and Traditions 49

A House Divided against Itself — Croatia and Hungary — Wooden Soldiers
and M. de Bonaparte's "youngster" — Archduke John and TjtoI —
"The Old Colours Last the Best" — Hapsburg Eccentricities — An In-
convenient Member of the Family and His Mysterious End — The Em-
peror's Reception Day — The Story of Murat — A Headless Corpse —
The Fall of Metternich — Traditions of Diplomacy — " Accidents Will
Happen " — The Afterward of a Pitifiil Tragedy.

IV
In Polish Prussia 81

A Haunted Country and a Lonely Ride — In the Tracks of the Grand Army
— The "Extra Post" — Unexpected! — Italy in Prussia — A Devout
General — Church-going under Difficulties — A Ghostly Chair — The
"Starost's" Boots — A Consolable Widower — The Last of the Old
Guard — Polish Poets and the Polish Jeanne d'Arc — A Family of
Exiles — Lord Palmerston's Prophecy — The Foe within the Gates.



CONTENTS

" Page

Tyrants, Soldiers, and Sailors 98

Villa Sforza Cesarini and the Duke of My Day — An Obscure Victim — The
Sforza Line — Lady Fraser and a Little Girl's Terrors of "Boney" in
1804 — Sir John at Eton — Sir George Nugent — A Duel at Sea — A
Scottish Grand Vizier — The Strange Case of Doctor Burns — Simon
Fraser, the Brigadier — An Epidemic of Bogeys — Uncle Sam's Last
Journey — General de Sonnaz — Admiral Caracciolo — Where Nelson
Was not Great — The Dead Admiral Demands Christian Burial.

VI
Friends and Friendly Places 129

The Cocumella, a Haven of Rest — Sorrento Sailors and Their Families —
The Influence of the Religious Sodalities — Faith's Insurances — On the
Crest of the Pass — The Road to Amalfi — Rival Ports — Salerno and
the Crusaders — An Alarming Journey and a Considerate Villain — The
De Raasloff Family — My Friend Anna — A Bit out of the Bible of
Youth — Anna in Thuringia — The Frau Hof-Pastorin's Convict
Christmas Party — " Beata Lei!"

VII
North of the Alps 148

A Danish Subaltern — The Schleswig-Holstein Riddle — De Raasloff
Settles the Elsinore Complication — The Pitiful Story of a Young Queen

— Von Moltke's Boyhood — A Stern Tutor — Too Much Goat! — A
Nameless Student and a Gruesome Parcel — Von Moltke's First Sight of
the Prussian Army Decides His Fate — His Long Struggle with Poverty —
His Patience and Perseverance — Discouragement and Projected Emigration
to Australia in Middle Life — The Emperor's Attachment to Him —
Count Seckendorff Makes a Little Mistake — The Crown Prince's Servant

— " Nanti Strumpf," the German Pasquino.

VIII
Sunshine and Shadow in the Penisola . . . . 170

"Zoroaster" at Pompeii — My Brother's Wife and Her Family — The
Duke of Wellington's Maxim — A Young Turk — Filangieri the Fire-
eater — King Ferdinand's Dismissal of the Swiss Guards — The Surrender
of Palermo — Garibaldi's "Double" — A Veteran's Experiences — Roast
Goose for Four — A Franciscan in England — The Amiable Crispi — The
Disaster of Massouah — Tragedy in the Flesh — Hill-road Pictures — A
Contrast in Funerals.

viii



CONTENTS

IX Page

Ravello, Capri, and Ischia 197

A Twilight Drive — Ravello by Moonlight — " The Immortals " — Uncle
Sam at the Cocumella — A Purely Personal Question — A Squall in the
Bay — The Sun-smitten Island — Uncle Sam at Anacapri — " Oh, wenn es
nur immer so bliebe!" — Doctor Munthe's Villa — The Library of My
Dreams — A Homesick Sphynx — Marion's Rock-study — A " Festa on
the Terrace" — The Barber Musician and His Troupe — The Catastrophe
of Casamicciola — The Parroco and His Free-thinkers.

X

Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii .... 221

The Study in the Tower — A Marvellous Night Scene — "Japan, the
Impersonal" — The Santuario of Pompeii — A Pious Lawyer and a For-
saken District — A Successful Mission — The Miraculous Picture Found
behind a Door — Its Humble Conveyance to Pompeii — A Splendid Throne
and a Heartful of Names — Thank-offerings of Great Price — Saintly Collab-
orators — The Parish Church of the World — Orphan Girls and Sons of
Convicts — The Fifteen Saturdays — The Miracle of Don Pasquale Bortone
— A True Love Story — My Wayfarers — A Visit to the Santuario.

XI
Life at Villa Crawford 256

A Trying Journey — A Neapolitan Bridal Party — Wedding Presents and
Business-like Precautions — Sponsorial Liabilities — Concetta Changes Her
Mind — " Over the Cliff ! " — A Church under the Sea — Two Venture-
some Ladies and a Fortunate Catastrophe — The Water Trust and Its
Guardian — Living Pictures at the Villa — Henry James Pays Us a Visit
There — A Triumph of Ambition — The Children's Tarantella — Embar-
rassing Guests — A Goddess of the Hills.

XII
The Out-Trail 279

In Tyrol — Mary Howitt and the Dominican Father — An Ideal Home —
The Prince Bishop's Manor House — Hansi and Liesel — Across the World
Again! — Rio Pictures — A Monte Video Couple — A Fragile Cargo —
Good-bye, Summer — The Frozen Straits — Antarctic Cannibals — The
Globe Rainbow — A Forgotten Rock — Santiago, the " Paris of South
America " — Wet Lodgings — My First Earthquake — A " Little Place "
in Peru — A Pretty Quiverful — Chilean Family Life.

ix



CONTENTS

XIII Page

Purely Domestic 305

A Mistake and Its Consequences — My Heavy Handful — The Grocer's
Assistant — Scandal and Compromise — Revelations of the Ice-chest — A
Conquering Substitute — A Painful Interview — " Them Jams, Madam!"

— The Disappearance of Juan — A Sympathetic Inspector — A Good
Ftiday Misadventure — "Muffins!" — Clara's Irish Lover.

XIV
In a South American Capital 321

Sarah Bernhardt in Santiago — The Luxury of Tears — A Paternal Impres-
ario and a Forsaken Opera Company — Dangers of Dining Out — The
Nitrate War — The Arbitration Courts — An Official Surprise — The
"Impartial" Brazilian — "Think of our Wives and Families!" —
The Cholera Comes over the Passes — Death Traps in the Andes — Two
Errors of Judgment — A Gruesome Caller — Senor B.'s Brilliant Idea —
Santiago Apaches — A Discriminating Thief — Those Honest Policemen!

XV

Spanish-American Ways and Traditions .... 347

Treacherous Sisters — The "Toothache" Signal — A Young Diplomatist
in Guatemala — Forgotten? — An Unauthorised Flight — Remembered
Music — A Little " Pronunciamento " — The Christmas Fair in Santiago

— A Tireless Dancer — Turn on the Hose! — Country Dandies and Their
Splendours — What the Girls Learn — Strange Funeral Customs — Un-
explained! — A Were-wolf of the Campagna.

XVI

" Battle, Murder, and Sudden Death ! " ... 366

The Curse of the Latins — Mademoiselle Jaures and the Broken Crucifix —
Santa Maria Desecrates the Cemeteries — A Clandestine Funeral — Chilean
Heroines — The Tram-car Riot — A Resolute Mob — A Massacre of the
Innocents — Stolen Bullion — The President in Hiding — The Children's
Game and the Tyrant's End.

XVII
A Watering Place in the Andes 381

A Trying Situation — Degenerate Spanish — " No Doctors or Lawyers! "
The Mystical " Manto " — Pretty Prayer Carpets — A Startling Sight —
The Parrot in Church — The Ways of Good Women — A Piously Con-
ducted Pilgrimage — The Baths of Cauquenes — Conservative Grandees — •
White Acacias — A Lonely Bloom — The Dream-letter — Where Our
Marching Orders Found Me — A Memory and a Farewell.

X



ILLUSTRATIONS

Mrs. Hugh Fraser Frontispiece

View of the Palazzo Odescalchi Facing page 40
F. Marion Crawford . . . . " "172

Mr. Hugh Fraser " " 300



XI



REMINISCENCES OF A
DIPLOMATIST'S WIFE

I

FROM THE ODESCALCHI TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE

A Roman Sunday — A Long-lost Uncle, and a Pearl — A Lover of Horace
Sees Rome in a Day — Recollections of my Aunt Medora — Strawberries,
Sunshine, and Songs — An Unmourned Mother-in-law — Bath, the For-
saken — The Mistake of a Great Physician — I Make My Curtsey to My
Sovereign — "The First Turn at the Mill!"

ON a certain Sunday morning, when I was about nine-
teen, I awoke with the conviction that something
imusually pleasant was going to happen. The time was
winter — but Roman winter, with dazzling sunshine,
sparkling air, and a sky of radiant blue doming In a
city of softly-tinted palaces and diamond-tossing foun-
tains, a blue that painted soft reflections of Itself In
every undulation of the Campagna and darkened to
cobalt on the distant peaks of the Sabines, where the
rare whiteness of new-fallen snow shone out for win-
ter's signature. Indoors all was flowery with roses and
niies and violets filling the house with perfume that
mingled heavily with the warm smell of pine and olive
wood burning in the open fireplaces; but "indoors" is
hardly the word for the Interior of the Odescalchi, as
there the windows were almost always open to the rush

I



REMINISCENCES OF A DIPLOMATIST'S WIFE

of air and sunshine and fountain-made music that came
in on every breath.

Of all the days I remember, none was ever more
harmoniously born for the entrance of a great new per-
sonality into my hfe; indeed, he who was even then on
the way to us was one of those for whom beneficially
invincible influences always seemed to prepare the most
characteristic and happy setting. I knew the setting was
not made for nothing, and as I wandered through the
rooms, pausing to smell a rose or glance in a mirror, I
felt that the delightful happening was coming nearer
every moment.

It was before the mirror that it caught me, rejoicing
in the effect of sunlight on a champagne-coloured poplin
frock that my mother had just given me. There came
a ring at the bell, so loud and long that I was too startled
to move for a minute, but then I flew to the front door,

— no one but myself should answer that call, — and
when I flung the portal open I found myself instantly
enfolded in a mighty embrace, while a voice, unheard
since my earliest childhood, cried, "You are Mimoli !
Ah, I knew it!"

" Uncle Sam ! " I managed to say against a broad
grey shoulder, and then he held me off to look at me
and gave me a chance to look at him. How I remember
it now, the fine face so like my mother's, the dark eyes

— like hers too but full of sharper, more piercing light

— the beautiful, harmonious mouth, the full, dominant
brow — more of it visible than of old when the brown
hair used to hang a little over it !

2



ODESCALCHI TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE

The hair was rather grey now and so was the " im-
perial," which I remembered so well. I seemed to re-
member even the shepherd's plaid suit and the dark-
red tie and the black sapphire on the right hand. Uncle
Sam 1 We had been hoping year after year that he
would pay us a visit, and he had come at last.

I led him as far as the red room and there he stopped
short, sniffing at the warm flower-and-fire scents in vis-
ible delight. " Will you stay here," I asked, " while I
go and tell mamma? I hope she won't go quite crazy
with happiness! "

" Wait a minute," he replied, and drew me to the
window, where, with the sun shining into his eyes, he
felt for and pulled something out of his waistcoat pocket.
" There, my dear," he said, " that is for you — because
you opened the door to me." And he held out a great
lustrous pearl that shimmered as if it had a living
light inside of it. I gasped as he put it into my hand.
" Have it set as a ring," he commanded. " It is a stud
now."

" It 's the moon. Uncle Sam — you have given me the
moon! I shall never have to cry for her again!" I
was so overcome that I forgot to thank him.

" There, go and call your mother," he said, laughing
at my ecstasy as I departed to do as I was bid.

We left them alone for a little while and then we
all took possession of him, Annie and I and the little
children, and " Paterno," as we called my step-father;
and the good Italian servants began to fly about in sym-
pathetic excitement to prepare a room for him, while

3



REMINISCENCES OF A DIPLOMATIST'S WIFE

the old cook thought out a dream of a breakfast. But
a great blow was in store for us. My mother brought
it on herself too soon — for one should never ask the
fairies about their gifts.

" You will stay all the winter, Sam! " she said. " We
must have a Roman spring together."

He shook his head, and then in a tone of terrific
secrecy he replied, " Only one day this time, Louisa.
I am here on most urgent business for a friend of mine
— the Emperor of Brazil! "

How the dear man enjoyed the effect of that dramatic
announcement! Our amazed silence spoke our awe better
than any words could have done. He went on, quite
airily now, to explain that it was a matter of railways
for Brazil, some monster contract to put through and
financiers to interview, though, as all the world knows,
Rome has not been noted for steel or money for a good
many centuries past, and then the steel, at any rate, did
not take the form of rails. Whatever the business was,
it was completed, to Uncle Sam's apparent satisfaction,
during the first hour or so after breakfast, and then he
returned to us demanding to be " shown Rome " before
sunset. It was his first visit to the capital of the world
and he certainly made the most of it, for he managed
to see St. Peters', part of the Vatican (as a great favour,
since the galleries were closed on Sundays), the Colos-
seum, and I forget how much more, and to remember
it too, though he was talking of everything under the
sun, except Rome, all the time. There must be many
living still who can recall the extraordinary charm of his

4



ODESCALCHI TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE

talk, — that torrent of anecdote, reminiscence, criticism
— this last ended generally in delicately trenchant sar.
casm, — many who can smile still, remembering his
admirable telling of ever-new stories, his swift character-
isation of men and women, his inimitably witty im-
promptu speeches, of which no printed record could give
more than the faintest impression. Ah, dear Uncle Sam,
who that ever knew you did not love you ? And who that
loved you would not give untold treasure for one hour
of your golden company, could you but come back to us
again?

After all, I think it was in his serious moments that
I loved him best. Even on that first day there was a
quiet interval when all the sightseeing was done; in the
falling twilight he took his Horace from his pocket
and, without opening the worn volume, began to repeat
the description of the Sabine farm; then, yielding to the
friendly melancholy of the Roman dusk, he told us all
that Horace had been to him through life and earnestly
recommended me to make the great poet my own. " No
one can ever be lonely or sad who possesses Horace,"
he said. " All my life I have carried him about with
me and he is the most faithful and sustaining of com-
panions. Some day I may show you my Horaces, the
greatest treasure in my library. I have all the first edi-
tions known to exist, but this little brown volume is the
dearest of all. It never leaves me." He explained the
date and preciousness of the wee book and went on:
" My only regret to-day is that I cannot get out to visit
the farm. But that will be for next time, so don't be

5



REMINISCENCES OF A DIPLOMATIST'S WIFE

downhearted, my dear," for I was ready to cry at the
thought of his departure that night. " I shall come back
very soon. I could not keep away from Rome now
that I have seen her."

He meant what he said, but he was caught back and
swept on by the tide of active life, which was his real
sphere, and to Rome he did not return for many years.
Nevertheless, that one triumphantly joyful day forged a
new link in the chain that held him to us, and when we
did meet again there was no sense of strangeness and
very little memory of intervening separation. Before,
he had been a part of the American Legend to me,
one of the shining realities of the circle across the water,
with which my mother's indefatigable correspondence and
my own early memories never allowed me to become
unfamiliar. But after his coming he had his place in
my own life, and he has his place there still, with my
other immortals.

Samuel Ward was my* mother's eldest brother and
was already launched in life when my grandfather died.
My mother, as I have related in an earlier volume,^
was then sixteen, — the second of the three sisters, who
all lived to a good old age. The eldest, my dear Aunt
Julia, only recently passed away, in her ninety-third year,
younger in heart and brain still than any of her own
or the next generation. There were three more brothers,
but they were not endowed with the extraordinary vital-
ity of the remainder of the family and died in youth
or early manhood, having made but little mark in their

' See "A Diplomat's Wife in Many Lands."

6



ODESCALCHI TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE

time. They were bright, handsome boys, and one, my
Uncle Harry, was living when, as a little girl, I was
taken to America, and was very kind to me. All I re-
member of him was his sunny face, short golden hair,
and blue eyes, and his delightful readiness to romp with
small children. Of Uncle Sam I saw very little at that
time, but his second wife, my Aunt Medora, was in-
stantly set up in my heart as an image of everything
lovely and worshipful, and her two boys were sometimes
playmates of ours at Bordentown. The history of
Uncle Sam's second marriage was rather a stirring one,
owing chiefly, it was thought in the family, to his dismal
bad luck in choosing a mother-in-law.

If any woman can be said to have justified the ordi-
nary vulgar conception of that ever-risky connection by
marriage, that woman was Mrs. Grimes. She out-
Mackenzied Mrs. Mackenzie in every trait except the
one of unkindness to her offspring, and for that excep-
tion she may, let us hope, have been forgiven her other
shortcomings. Uncle Sam, rich, young, ardent, and in
evident need of consolation for the untimely death of
his first wife, sweet and good Emily Astor, at once caught
the discerning eye of Mrs. Grimes when (from nowhere
in particular) she appeared in New York with two
beautiful but portionless daughters. He was musical,
and had a charming voice — so had Medora; and she
had, besides, the feminine grace, the large dark eyes,
the Madonna forehead, and perfect though rather ex-
pressionless features so much admired in the post-By-
ronic, early-Victorian period. Her colouring was like

7



REMINISCENCES OF A DIPLOMATIST'S WIFE

that of a June rose, and in speaking her voice was rich
and sweet.

She and her sister were, I think, Creoles, and had all
the glow and languor of their accidental origin, and their
exotic names, Medora and AthenaTs, suited them perfectly.
My chief recollection of Aunt Medora is a very bright
and pretty one. I must have been just six years old
when I was sent in state to pay her a morning visit in
her house in New York. It was in summer time and I
found her standing before a Louis Quinze dressing-
table, looking at herself in the mirror as she arranged
her dark hair in wide braids low over her ears, in the
fashion of the day. There was a plate of ripe straw-
berries on the dressing-table, and a mixture of sweet un-
familiar perfumes in the air. Aunt Medora was dressed
In an embroidered white muslin peignoir that had an
under-robe of pink silk just the colour of her cheeks.
The sun came into the big luxurious bedroom through
green Venetian blinds and one long shaft lay on the
moss-green carpet. She smiled at me and held out the
plate of strawberries, saying, " Sit down on the floor, my
dear, and eat them while I finish doing my hair."

It was such a delightful way of receiving a child. No
putting one on one's best behaviour and making one an-
swer a lot of stupid questions — just the fragrant fruit
and the soft carpet and the stealing sunshine, and her
beautiful self to look at in happy silence. When she
had finished her toilet and I the strawberries, she got
out her guitar and sang to me the songs that had sung
her into my uncle's heart, — " Oh, bring to me my Arab

8



ODESCALCHI TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE

Steed," " The Minstrel Boy to the Wars is gone," " My
Earrings, my Earrings, I 've dropped them in the well,"
and I don't know how many more, — songs that entirely
met the emotional wants of our simple-minded forbears,
but whose very titles send people into fits of laughter
now. I doubt if we are any the better for that. Sen-
timentality with a large S keeps people much younger



Online LibraryHugh FraserReminiscences of a diplomatist's wife; further reminiscences of a diplomatist's wife in many lands → online text (page 1 of 27)