L. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-Lindencrone.

The sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 online

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heard farther than the first few rows of seats.

the "Rossigndf " and Liszt's "Que disaient Us ? "


to Sgambati's accompaniment. Madame Helbig played
the accompaniment of the "Capriciosa" of Blumenthal,
the one that has all those wonderful cadenzas which
run rampant through the different keys. Madame Hel-
big is a marvelous musician. I must tell you what she
did. When I was soaring all alone up in the clouds
without any earthly help in that long cadenza, she fore-
saw that I was not coming down on the right note and
changed the key from four sharps to four flats without
any one noticing it, thereby saving me from dire disaster.
Any musician can change from sharps to flats, but
she was reading this very difficult accompaniment al-
most at first sight and before a large audience. I think
that it was a tremendous tour de force.

AALHOLM, August,\i886.

MY DEAR AUNT, Did you receive the newspaper cut-
tings I sent you describing t;he home-coming of Frederick
and Nina? Did they not read like* fairy tales?^

Aalholm Castle is situated on the sea. It. is one, of the
most historic places in the country, and seems to have
been bandied back and forth to pay the different kings'
debts. fK. ?

Christopher II. was imprisoned here (the prisons still
exist), and two more j^pldy and unpleasant places to
be shut up in cannot well be imagined. The guards
used to walk up and down in front of the aperture
through which food w,s passed, to the unfortunate and
damp monarch.

Later Aalholm came into Couiat Raben's 'family (in
the eighteenth century). There are, of course, all sorts
of legends and ghostly stories which, as in "all ancient



castles, are, with the family specter, absolutely necessary.
Women in gauzy drapery have been seen roaming about
in dark corridors, horses have been heard rattling their
chains in the courtyard. Mirrors also do something, but
I forget what. However, no phantoms, I believe, have
been noticed during this generation ; probably the build-
ing which is going on now has discouraged them on their
prowling tours and routed them from their lairs. I
have watched with interest for the last three weeks the
workmen who are making a hole in the massive walls
in a room next to mine. The walls are about ten feet
thick and are made of great boulders, the space between
being filled with mortar which time has made as hard as

Every king or owner of Aalholm since the time it has
stood on its legs seems to have had different ideas about
windows. One sees on its tired old exterior traces of
every kind and every period. Some round, some a mere
slit in the wall, some with arches all helter-skelter, with-
out any regard to symmetry or style.

Each owner made his window, and each successor
bricked it up and put his window in its place. The
building is very long, with two towers. It looks at a
distance like a huge dachshund with head and tail
sticking up. There is a chapel in one wing, which no
one ever enters, and there is a theater in another wing,
where in old times there were given plays.

The park is beautiful beyond words. You come across
some old graves of vikings, of which nothing is left save
the stones they used for the making of them. The
treasures that they contained have long since been re-
moved by a wise government in order to fill the national



In 1585 some changes were made and from time to time windows have been cut through the walls


Those at the top are: left: "My hope is in God. Wildtbragt [his dog] alone is faithful. Fred-
erick II., King of Denmark and Norway." Right: "God forgets not His own. Soffia, Queen of
Denmark." Those below were made by members of the court, who attached their individual marks
instead of signatures.


museums. Many gold and silver coins have been
picked up in the grounds, and are turned to use by mak-
ing tankards and bowls, and very pretty and interesting
they are. On the walls of the large hall there are in-
scriptions which were made in the sixteenth century to
commemorate the visits of different monarchs. King
Frederick II., 1585, must have had many friends with
him. Like our modern guest-book, each guest left his
name and motto, which was painted on the walls, with
his motto and his particular sign, such as a mug or a
rake (I hope these did not refer to his personal attributes).
One that King Frederick wrote seems to me to be very-
pathetic, and makes one think that his friends must have
been ultra-treacherous and false. It reads: "Mein hilf
in Gott. Wildbracht allein ist treu." ("God is my help.
Wildbracht [the name of his dog] alone is faitnful.")
Don't you think that has a sad note in it?

[MILAN, HOTEL MILAN, October 17 , 1886.

DEAR AUNT M , Just think what luck I have

had. They say that everything comes to those who
wait, and what I have waited for has come at last. I
have seen and made the acquaintance of Verdi, the
famous. He always stops at this hotel, because he is
a friend of the proprietor's, Mr. Spatz, who, knowing
my desire to meet Verdi, said that he would arrange
an interview. This he kindly did. Verdi received me
in his salon. He looks just like his photographs
a very interesting face with burning eyes. His wel-
come was just warm enough not to be cold. The con-
versation opened, of course, on music. I said that I
admired his music more than that of any other com-



poser in the world. This was stretching a point, but it
brought a pale smile to his verdigris countenance (this
is unworthy of the worst punster). I told him that I
often had the honor of singing with the Queen, and that
we sang many duets from his operas. He did not seem
to be much impressed by this miracle and received it
with amiable indifference.

I longed to hear him talk, but with the exception of
a few "veramentes," and "grazies" he remained passive
and silent. By way of saying something he asked me
if I had heard Tamagno in "Othello."

"Yes," I said. "I cannot think of anything more
splendid. I never heard anything to equal him, and
Monsieur Maurel is equally fine, is he not?"

"His singing is well enough," answered Verdi, "but
his accent is deplorable."

After this the conversation languished, and I feared
it would die for want of fuel. I felt that I had been
spinning my web in vain that I might catch some
other fly, but not Verdi, when suddenly he said:

"You tell me that you sing often with the Queen.
Which duets of mine do you sing?" he asked with
seeming interest.

I named several.

"What voice has the Queen? Soprano or contralto?"

"The Queen's voice is mezzo-soprano," I answered.

"And yours?" he asked.

"Mine is about the same, equally mezzo-soprano."

This seemed to amuse him.

"Do you think the Queen would like to have
me write something [quite jocosely] equally mezzo-



'I am sure that the Queen," I answered, gushingly,
"would be overjoyed."

"Bene," said the great maestro with a smile. "Then
I will."

"How enchanting!" I cried, crimson with enthusiasm.
"But may I beg one thing?"

"Beg! Je vous en prie."

"Fa dieze [F sharp] is a weak point in both our voices."

"Bene," he said, waving his hand toward his piano.
4< I will write a duet for you, and only put one G minor
in it."

"G minor!" I exclaimed. "Why, that is"

He interrupted, "Have you ever noticed that G minor
is much easier to sing than F sharp?"

He did not wait for my assurance that I did not
notice any difference, but said, suddenly, "When do
you go to Monza?"

"We are waiting to hear. Perhaps to-morrow."

"Ah," he said, thoughtfully, as if turning over in his
mind whether or not he could have the duet ready.

MONZA, October igth.

Bonghi came yesterday. At the request of the Queen
he read aloud my sketch of the Hamlet legend before the
promenade en voiture. The Queen thanked me and said
that she was going to keep the manuscript, but Bonghi
cut my literary wings by pronouncing in his brusque
way that, although it was interesting and he liked the
contents, it was badly written.

"Chere madame," he said, "you write very well, but
you do not know the art of punctuating. You write
as the water runs, as the arrow flies ; therefore, in reading



what you have written I have no time to breathe. I
cannot separate the different ideas. A comma means
a point d'arr$t, a moment of repose. Every period
should be an instant in which to digest a thought."

I felt crushed by this, but tried to defend myself by
saying that I had only written it for one indulgent eye,
and ended lamely by promising that the next time I
wrote anything I would be more careful. "I will do
as Mark Twain did put the punctuations at the end,
and one can take one's choice."

We had some music again this evening. The Duke
played some solos on his violoncello. He has a beautiful
instrument. If Amati made cellos (perhaps he did), he
must have made this one.

At dinner I sat next to him.

He said, "I was very much interested in what you
wrote about Hamlet."

"In spite of the lack of commas?" I asked.

"Yes, in spite of the lack of commas. But I wonder
if all you wrote was true?"

"How can we ever find out?"

"I hate to think of him as a myth."

"Please don't think of him as a myth. Think of
him as you always have; otherwise you will owe me a

Looking across the table to Signor Bonghi, he said:
"He is a wonderful man. I like his name, too
Ruggiero Bonghi, tout court."

"It sounds," I said, "so full of strength and power and
straight to the point, with no accessories, doesn't it?"

"You say that to me, who have twenty-four names."

"Twenty-four! Dear me I Do you know them all?"



"I must confess that I do not, but I will look them up
in the Gotha and write them out for you."

"Twenty -four," I repeated. "How out of breath the
priest who baptized you must have been!"

"Oh," cried the Prince, "he did not mind; he got a
louis [twenty-franc piece] for each name."


MY DEAR AUNT, After the reception of the Diplo-
mats on the ist of January we moved from Palazzo
Tittoni to this, our new home.

We have in the largest salon an enormous and gor-
geously sculptured chimneypiece which has a tiny fire-
place that, when crammed full of wood, and after we
have puffed our lungs out blowing on it and prodded it
with tongs, etc., consents to smile and warm the chair
nearest to it, but nothing else.

The ceiling (a work of art of some old master) is way
up in the clouds; I am almost obliged to use an opera-
glass to see which are angels' or cherubs' legs up there
in the blue.

The figures in the corners, I suppose, represent Faith,
Hope, and Charity; the fourth must be the Goddess
of Plenty. She is emptying an enormous cornucopia
over our heads of the most tempting fruit, which makes
my mouth water and makes me wish she would drop
some of it in 'my lap.

This palace used to belong to that nice hospitable
family you've heard about the Borgias. I dare say
they did a good deal of their poisoning in these very

We were rather agitated the other day when a hole


was discovered in one of the walls. I put my hand way
down in it as far as I could and pulled out a little bottle
which contained some dark liquid. Poison, for sure!
It looked very suspicious. Giuseppe, our Italian butler,
who is as Italian as an Italian can be, was frightened
out of his senses (the few he possesses) and held the
bottle at arm's-length.

To test the contents of the vial he put half of it
in some food he gave to a thin and forlorn cat who hov-
ered about our kitchen, and for whom Giuseppe cherished
no love. However, the cat survived with eight of its
lives. Then a rabbit a friend of Giuseppe's wanted to
get rid of was given the rest. He also lived and thrived.
After these experiments we don't think much of Borgia

One of the rooms behind the salon (so large that it is
divided into four) has the most beautiful frescoed ceiling.
It is a pity that it is so dark there that one cannot see
it properly. Perhaps originally it was a chapel and the
frescoes were easier seen when the altar-candles were
burning. But can one imagine a Borgia needing a chapel
xDr a Borgia ever praying?

Just around the corner from us is the campo di fiori
(field of flowers), where one might expect to buy flowers,
but it is the one thing you do not find there. Every-
thing else, from church ornaments to umbrellas, from silver
candlesticks to old clothes, you can buy for a song not
so musical as Mendelssohn's "without words"; on the
contrary, the buying of the most insignificant object is
accompanied by a volume of words screamed after the
non-buyer in true Jewish style.

Then around another corner you come across the


Torso, made famous by that witty tailor called Pas-
quino, where he placarded his satirical witticisms; his
post-office for anonymous letters!

We have just come home from the Pantheon. There
is held every year for the anniversary of King Victor
Emmanuel's death a memorial service pour le repos de
son dme. If it had been my soul it would never have
reposed ; it would have jumped up and clapped its wings
to applaud the music, which, though always beautiful,
to-day was divine.

I even forgot to freeze during the long two hours we
stayed in the icy-cold building, open to wind and weath-
er above and full of piercing draughts below. The
marble pavement, which has collected damp and mold
since 27 B.C., has long since become so wavy and un-
even that you walk very unsteadily over it; the costly
marbles of which the pavement is made in fine mosaic-
work have sunken away from their contours centuries
ago, so that now you only realize how beautiful it must
have been in its prime.

The high and imposing catafalque, erected for this
occasion, which filled the whole center of the large basi-^
lique, reaching almost to the dome, was surrounded by
enormous candelabra containing wax candles as big as

The ministers of state and the diplomats had a loge
reserved for them next to 'the orchestra, and, although
there were carpets and rugs under our feet, the humidity
and cold penetrated to the marrow of our stateful and
diplomatic bones.

There were tiers of seats for people who were fortu-
nate enough to procure tickets.


Gayarre, the wonderful Spanish tenor, sang several
solos, each one more exquisite than the other. I have
never heard a more beautiful voice, and certainly have
never heard a more perfect artist. The way he phrases
and manages his voice is a lesson in itself.

Tamagno, the famous Italian tenor, sings wonder-
fully also, but very differently. He gives out all the voice
he has, and you are overcome with the strength and
power and the compass of his unique voice. He is the
tenor robusto par excellence of the world.

One cannot compare the two singers. Gayarr6 has
the real quality of a tenor, exquisitely tender, suave, and
still powerful. He has a way of keeping his voice bottled
up until a grand climax; then he lets it swell out in a
triumphal burst.

This funeral service is a very long and fatiguing affair.
I pity the cardbinieri (the soldiers) who are on service
that day. Although they are men chosen for their
powerful build, some of them cannot endure the fatigue
of standing "at arms" the two hours that the service
lasts. I suppose the poor things are put there from
early dawn, and there they must stand, stiff and straight,
with uplifted sword, without moving a muscle. We saw
one (not this year, but last) faint dead away and drop
in a heap on the marble steps of the altar. His sword
and casque made a great clatter when they fell and
rattled over the pavement. Four of his comrades rushed
in, picked him up, and carried him out, staggering under
his weight. He was replaced by another carabinier
noiselessly and so quickly that you hardly knew that
anything had happened.

The Argentina Theater attempted to give Wagner's


Ring. It was a dismal performance. Wagner is not at
his best in an Italian setting, with all the gas turned on
and the scenery half tumbling down and the orchestra
fiddling in full view.

In the first act of "Rheingold," where the three
maidens are swimming, the poor girls, with hair of un-
equal lengths, sprawled about, their arms clutching at
air, and held up to the roof by visible and shaky ropes,
half the time forgetting to sing in their wild efforts to
keep themselves from falling, separated from the audi-
ence only by a gauze curtain which was transparency

DENMARK, July, 1887.

MY DEAR AUNT, Denmark in July is ideal. It is
never too warm in the day and always cool at night.

I have been spending a few days with Howard on
his farm.

On the Fourth of July Howard wished to give the
peasants in the neighborhood an entertainment to cele-
brate his country's "glorious Fourth." He hoped to
inspire them with due enthusiasm and give them a good
day's sport.

The Danish peasant's idea of amusement is to walk
leisurely to the place of rendezvous, to sit quietly and rest
from his week's hard work, eat plenty of Smorrebrod
(sandwiches), drink barrels of beer, have tobacco ad lib-
itum, and finally to leave as lazily as he came.

This feast was going to be otherwise. Everything
was to be done d VAmtricaine. The Fourth fell on a
Sunday, and the farmers all accepted and came on the
stroke of the clock, dressed in their Sunday-best clothes,
which are of heavy broadcloth, made in the fashion of



Louis Philippe, voluminous over the hips, thick, heavy-
soled boots, and with long snake-like pipes hanging from
their mouths.

Howard had arranged all sorts of gymkhana sports,
for which prizes were to be given. There were to be the
long jump, the high jump, a running-race, catching the
greased pig, pole-climbing, a race in a bag, and so forth.

"They shall have a high old time," said Howard.

Their dismay only equaled their astonishment when
they were told what was expected of them. What!
Jump, run, and be tied up in bags and climb poles?
Was this the way that they were going to amuse them-
selves on this hot day? Were soiling their clothes, per-
spiring, and suffering tortures in their tight boots the
delightful, reposeful feast they had been invited to?
Their inborn politeness would not allow them to do
otherwise than obey the wishes of their host. They tried
their best to perform the feats put down on the program.

Their week's work of mowing, cutting trees, plow-
ing, threshing, and the different things belonging to a
farmer's life seemed child's play compared with this
so-called enjoyment.

They did not understand why they got prizes for
deeds they had not done, and received the box of cigars
or silver mug with unperturbed serenity.

Consternation and resignation were the only expres-
sions on their faces. Neither did they understand when
they were told to cry "Hurrah!" and wave their hats
after Howard should finish his oration. That he made
standing on a table. He expatiated on the beauty of
liberty and the soul-inspiring feeling of independence,
and became quite eloquent. They cheered in a spirit-



less and cheerless manner. For them liberty was a high-
sounding word which meant nothing. An enlightened
government provided them with all they needed. Why
have the bother to choose your doctor or your priest
when all that is done for you? Only to pay taxes. Can
anything be more simple?

The games H. tried to teach them were not successful.
They stood in a circle and were told (Howard rubbed
his hands in a dainty manner) that "this is the way
we wash our clothes." This did not appeal to them;
they knew too well how they washed theirs, and they
saw no fun in imitating such every-day affairs as wash-
ing and ironing.

Every way "we did" things had to be explained at
length and translated into Danish. And the most in-
explicable of all the games was "Oranges and lemons."
When they were asked if they wanted oranges or lem-
ons^they all answered, truthfully and conscientiously,
"Oranges." Who in his senses would prefer a sour
lemon to a juicy orange ? The result was that the battle
was very one-sided all oranges and only one lemon.

The dance was also rather dismal. The musicians
played some national waltzes, and . the guests shuffled
about on the sanded floor, treading a slow measure and
on one another's toes; the women held on to their part-
ners by their shoulders, and the men clutched the women
round their bulky waists. However, they all kept the
measure, and some of the men really danced quite well.

The finale was the fireworks. It ought to have been

a grand display, but the rockets were damp, the "wheels,"

which ought to have wheeled up in the air, merely whizzed

on the ground and seemed to make for the nearest guest

13 179


in an absolutely vicious manner. All the things that
ought to have gone off stayed and sputtered.

As an entertainment it was a failure. The guests,
however, had plenty to eat and drink, and carried away
pockets full of tobacco and cigars, but it was rather
pathetic to see the worn-out and weary farmers dragging
their tired limbs slowly and ponderously down the
avenue with a look of "Why all this?" depicted on their

MONZA, October ijfh.

After luncheon to-day we went out on the terrace to
drink our coffee. The sun was warm and the air de-
liciously cool, a typical Italian autumn day. As we sat
there we heard some mysterious noise which came from
the side of the park where the avenue terminates and
is divided from the deer-park by a large iron gate.

Looking down the avenue, we saw a man peering
through the bars of the gate. He had a bear with him.
Her Majesty was curious to see them and ordered the
gate unlocked and the man and the bear permitted
to enter. The man was quite young, with soft black
eyes and dazzling teeth. He led the bear by a heavy
iron chain passed through a ring in its nose. The Queen
went down the steps and talked with him.

"Will he bite me if I pat him?" she asked.

"No, signora; he is very good" ("E molto buono").
He hesitated a moment, and then said, "Signora, will
you tell me which of the ladies there is the Regina?"
The Queen was immensely amused, and answered, "I
am the Queen " ( " Son io la Regina ") . The young fellow
was quite overcome, and threw himself on the ground
and kissed the hem of her dress.



"How did you tame the bear?" inquired her Majesty.

He answered in a very agitated voice: "Maesta, it
was very easy. Bears are not difficult to tame. One
must only be kind and patient."

"You look," said the Queen, "as if you were very
kind and patient."

The young Italian passed his hand lovingly over his
companion's shaggy head, and as he looked up at the
beautiful and smiling Queen his eyes filled with tears.
"I love him," he said, simply; "he is 'my only friend."
We, who stood near enough to hear, were trembling on
the verge of weeping. He added, "We never leave each
other; we eat and sleep together, and all I have I share
with him."

I saw tears in the Queen's eyes, which she quickly
wiped away; and, turning to the man, she asked, "Can
he do any tricks?"

"Si, maesta, he can lie on his back and put his paws
up in the air and hum."

This did not seem much of a trick, probably being a
bear's customary attitude.

"Well," said the Queen, "let us see what he
can do."

But, although the bear was addressed in terms of
tenderest endearment and although we hoped that he
would obey his master and do honor to the occasion, he
did nothing of the kind. On the contrary, instead of ly-
ing down and humming he stood up his full height on
his hind legs and began to waltz, swaying his long,
plump body and shaking his thick, brown fur.

He opened his mouth wide, showing his white teeth
and his great red tongue, and looked as if he were laugh-



ing and as if it was the funniest thing in the world that
he was doing.

"He does not seem to be very obedient," smiled her

"He is afraid," said the man, trying to make excuses

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