L. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-Lindencrone.

The sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 online

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it would interest me to be present at one of the per-
formances. There had been many of these before, but
nothing remarkable had so far been produced.

We arrived in the theater while they were playing a
short opera of two acts, which was unfavorably re-
ceived and quickly condemned with contempt and
hisses.

The judges looked bored to death and discouraged,

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THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

and the audience seemed ready to growl and grumble at
anything.

Mugnoni led the orchestra in his usual excitable man-
ner. If any of the operas had been good for anything
they would have shown at their best under his master-
ful baton.

Then came the "Cavalleria Rusticana."

Already when the overture was played the audience
was enchanted, and as it progressed the enthusiasm be-
came greater and greater. The excited audience called
for the autore (author).

Mascagni, urged and pushed forward from the side-
wings, evidently against his will, appeared, looking very
shabby in an old gray suit with trousers turned up, as
if he had just come in from the street. His hair was long
and unkempt, his face haggard and thin evidently he
had been starved and unwashed for weeks. This really
was the case.

He bowed modestly and with a naif awkwardness
which was very pathetic. The Italian public, just as
wild in its enthusiasm as it is merciless in its disapproval,
rose as one man with a bound and cheered vociferously.
But when the Intermezzo was played there was a burst
of thundering applause, clapping of hands, and shouts
of enthusiasm. I never heard anything like it.

Mascagni was called at least twenty times before the
curtain. Any other composer would have beamed all
over with joy and pride at such an ovation, but Mas-
cagni on!y looked shy and bewildered. The tears rolled
down my cheeks as I looked at the poor young fellow
(he is only twenty years old), who probably that very
morning was wondering how he could provide food for

198




FRANCESCO CRISPI

Prime Minister of Italy. From a photograph taken in 1887



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

his wife and baby. Fancy what his emotions must have
been to wake up so unexpectedly to glory and success!

Mascagni, his wife, and his baby lived in a garret, and
had not money enough to buy even a candle. The only
instrument he had when he wrote the opera was an
accordion. His little wife is nineteen, and the baby is
one year old.

Italy thought it possessed another Verdi. The next
day after his triumph Leghorn (his birthplace) gave
him the citizenship of the town. Sonsogni handed him
a large sum of money (the promised prize), and Mas-
cagni had orders to begin on another opera. Will that
be as good? One says that necessity is the mother of
invention; it seems that in this case poverty was the
father of "Cavalleria Rusticana."

1890.

DEAR , Johan is named to Stockholm, and we

must leave Rome. Needless to say that I am broken-
hearted to leave Italy and the Queen.

MILAN, September 16.

DEAR , We went yesterday to bid good-by to

their Majesties, who are at Monza, and for J. to present
his letters of rappel.

We arrived in time for luncheon ; there were no other
guests.

After luncheon we sat out under the trees by the side
of the pretty lake; there was an awning put there, and
we stayed all the afternoon in the shade of the large
trees which bordered the lake. The King was very gay;
he wanted every one to row out in the small boats that
were there; then he and the Prince took another boat

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and tried to collide. The King pretended that he could
not row, and made such hopeless attempts that all those
in the other boats were splashed with water.

On taking leave of her Majesty, which was done with
a great deal of weeping on my part, she handed me a
beautiful sapphire-and-diamond brooch and a very
large photograph signed by her dear hand en souvenir.
The King gave Johan his photograph and the decoration
of la couronne d'ltalie. The day passed only too quick-
ly. I cannot tell you how miserable I was to take leave
of their Majesties, who had always been so kind and
gracious to me.

But what use is it to mourn my fate. Nothing can
change the fact that we are bidding good-by to Italy.



STOCKHOLM

1890-1897



STOCKHOLM, 1890-1897

STOCKHOLM, October, 1890.

DEAR L, We arrived here (our new post) at an early
hour in the morning. We found the secretary and car-
riages waiting for us, and drove to the hotel, where we
stayed until our apartment was quite ready. Our fur-
niture from Rome has already arrived, so all we have to
do now is, like coffee, to settle.

We have taken the same house that has been the
Danish Legation for the last forty years, and where
Johan used to live when he was secretary here twenty
years ago.

The apartment is very large. It has twenty-four
rooms, ten windows on Drottning Gatan, and thirteen
on the side -street. The ballroom has five windows
(three on one street and two on another) ; a large salon,
two smaller salons, a library, and a spacious dining-room ;
and it has (quite rare in Stockholm) a porte - cockhe.
The Chancellery is in the courtyard, having its sep-
arate entrance and staircase.

The evening before we left Copenhagen we had the
honor of dining with the King and Queen of Denmark,
at Amalienborg. It was a family dinner, J. and I being
the only guests. After dinner the Queen talked a long
time with me and handed me the letter she had written
to the Queen of Sweden.

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"I told her," she said, "that I was very fond of you,
and I knew that she would be equally so. And how the
Duke of Nassau [her brother] admired you and your
singing."

"If your Majesty hadn't said it, I never would have
believed that the Duke liked my singing. I was under
the impression that he would have liked me better with-
out the singing."

"Yes," the Queen said, "I confess that he is not musi-
cal, and does not like all music, but he really did like
to hear you sing. He told me so."

"Of course he knows," I answered, "but he is the
last person from whom I expected to receive a com-
pliment."

As their Majesties retired, the Queen held out her hand,
and when I stooped to kiss it she kissed me affectionately
on both cheeks. The King, on shaking hands with me,
said, "God Reise," which is Danish for bon voyage.

The first days in a new post are always very busy
ones. My first visit was to the doyenne of the Corps
Diplomatique, Baroness Ph. She gave me a list of visits
to be made, and a quantity of her own cards with pour
presenter with mine.

Yesterday J. was received by the King, and presented
his lettres de creance.

Although J. had been Secretary of Legation, and had
been groomsman at the marriage in Stockholm of the
Crown Prince of Denmark to Princess Louise (niece of
King Oscar), and was very well known to the King, all
the regular formalities had to be gone through with.
J. made his traditional official speech to the King, both
standing; and the King solemnly answered with an

204



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

elaborate assurance that the relations between Sweden
and Denmark had always been of the best and that
they would remain so.

When the ceremonious utterances were ended, the
King put his arm on J.'s shoulder and said: "Now let
us sit down and have a good talk together of old times."
The King "thee-and-thoued" Johan, and said, "Her,
du. Naar kommer din husfru?" which in English means,
"Listen thou. When is thy wife coming?" It is so
strange that the Swedish language has no word for you.
One must either address people by their title, which is
sometimes very awkward, or else say thou.

I was dreadfully puzzled when I first came here.
Right opposite my window was a sign, "Dam Bad Rum!"
I said: "How queer! People generally cry up their
wares, not down. Who ever heard of a seller saying,
that his rum was as bad as that?" I found out after-
ward that the sign was merely to let people know that
a ladies' bath-room was to be found there.

The next excitement was my audience with the Queen,
and thereby hangs, if not a tale, a teapot with a tempest
in it. I must tell you all about it. I hope you will
appreciate the tremendously complicated position in
which I was placed.

It seems that in the time of Queen Christina of Sweden,
one hundred and fifty years ago, the ladies of her court
wore black silk or satin dresses and sleeves of a certain
pattern. The court has seen no reason to make any
change of dress since that time. To-day it wears the
same style of dress and the same sleeves the cause of
the tempest!

In answer to my request for an audience I received

205



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

a letter from the grande maitresse, saying that the Queen
would receive me on Thursday next; the doyenne of
the Corps Diplomatique would present me. Then fol-
lowed instructions: my dress was to be a black satin
ball-dress, a train of four meters, lined with black silk,
decolkte, white glace gloves, el les manches de cour. I
had no idea what les manches de cour were, and, natur-
ally, I went to the doyenne to find out.

If I had announced that I intended to throw a bomb
under the King's nose the effect could not have been
more startling than when I said those fatal words, "Les
manches de cour. 1 '

Madame la doyenne was so overcome that for a
moment speech left her. She proceeded to tell me that
in order to keep on the right side of the colleagues it
would be advisable not to wear the sleeves.

"Why not?" I asked, perplexed. "My husband says
it is only on this one occasion that a foreign minister's
wife is required to wear the sleeves."

She acknowledged that this was true, but the diplo-
matic ladies had refused to wear them, and it was as
much as peace and happiness were worth to displease
the colleagues.

"How can they refuse?" I asked.

She explained that the idea of wearing the sleeves
was disagreeable to them; therefore the court had passed
over the point and made a compromise: the Queen
received them at the summer palace, Drottningholm,
en toilette de mile. In this way the difficulty had been
temporarily overcome, but now it seemed they wished
me to draw the chestnuts out of the fire.

"What am I to do?" I asked. "The only thing I can

206



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

see is to leave Stockholm, my home, and my family, and
come back in the summer when I can wear a bonnet."

I meant this as a tremendous satire, but she took it
quite seriously and said, "That would be wiser."

I smiled and, handing her the letter I had in my hand,
I said, "In this letter from the grande matiresse she said
you were to present me."

"Of course I am to present you, but I refuse to wear
the sleeves."

"If such is the case," I said, "what would you advise
me to do?"

She answered: "I would advise you to avoid wearing
the sleeves. You will make a precedent which all the
Corps Diplomatique will resent."

"Why should the ladies object to the sleeves?" I
ventured to ask. "Are they so unbecoming?"

"It is not that they are unbecoming, but the Ministers'
wives dislike being dictated to. They say that they
represent their sovereigns, and object to be told what
they shall wear and what they shall not wear."

I remarked that at the Court of St. James's no lady
ever dreamt of objecting to wear the three plumes and
the long tulle veil prescribed by that court, and I could
not see any difference so long as it was their Majesties'
wish.

To this she replied, "I think you will regret it if you
offend the whole Corps Diplomatique"

On this I took my leave and drove straight to the
grande maitresse. My back was up, and even if the
Corps Diplomatique* s back was up, too, I was deter-
mined to do nothing to displease the Court of Sweden.
I explained the situation to the Baroness Axerhjelm,

207



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

who already knew it, of course, better than I did. I
could see it was a sore point.

When I asked her to explain to me about the sleeves
she offered to send for them that I might see them, and
to lend me her sleeves that I might copy them.

When I looked at the offending sleeves I did not think
they were so appalling only two white satin puffs held
in with straps of narrow black velvet ribbon. On a
black corsage they could not be so dreadful, especially
as the fashion now is sleeves puffed to exaggeration.
How silly!

We received visit after visit and many letters from
the now irate Corps so many that we were quite be-
wildered. J. looked through the archives of the Lega-
tion to see if he could find anything bearing on this
subject, but in vain. The mighty question does not
t.'eem to have troubled my predecessors. They seem to
have worn the sleeves and gone on living.

J. remembered that the wife of his former Minister,
on the occasion of the marriage of the Crown Prince,
wore them. I decided to write to the Queen of Denmark
to ask her advice, telling her of the threatened antago-
nism against me.

This is her letter in reply:

I advise you, dear Lillie, to do as their Majesties desire. The
Crown Princess always wears the sleeves when in Stockholm, and I
think it would be more polite and less awkward if you wore them
also.

Therefore I had them made. Thursday came: my
dress was ready and the obnoxious sleeves in their places.
I quite admired them, and would not have minded
wearing them every day. Still, I could not but think;

208



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

how a whole ballroom of ladies with them on must have
appeared in Queen Christina's time.

Although it was the duty of the Baroness to accom-
pany me, I was not surprised when I received a long letter
explaining how a severe headache had suddenly swooped
down on her and would deprive her of that pleasure.

That was her way of getting ovei this impasse.

The situation was awkward. This refusal at the
eleventh hour was very annoying. I was not expected
alone, but alone I should have to go. There was no
alternative, and the absence of the doyenne must ex-
plain itself as best it could.

I arrived in solitary grandeur, and was conducted in
state to the salon, where the grande maitresse with the
sleeves, of course! was ready to receive me. She did
not seem in the least surprised at seeing me alone; pos-
sibly the doyenne had written her own account of the
headache. I could see that she applauded the stand I
had taken, so I felt that if I had lost favor with my col-
leagues I had gained it at court.

We went together to the salon, where we found the
Queen. She rose and gave me her hand, and I bowed
low over it. She was dressed all in black, with the white
satin sleeves conspicuous under a long lace veil which
hung from her head. She is very fine-looking, tall, and
imposing, with a quiet and serious manner. She looks
the personification of goodness.

I gave her the letter the Queen of Denmark had sent
her. Then she talked of her brother (Duke of Nassau),
and said he had written about me and my singing, when
we were both guests at Chateau Furstenberg. The Queen
added, "My brother is not musical" (indeed he was

209



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

not), "but he said no singing had ever pleased him like
yours." I bowed and tried not to look incredulous.
"The King," she said, "is looking forward with great
pleasure to seeing you again. He remembers a certain
song you sang. Was it not 'Beware,' or something like
that?"

I did not think it unlikely. I had sung it often enough,
goodness knows.

I replied I did sing a song called that.

The dire step had been taken, and as far as sleeves
were concerned the incident was closed.

When I reached home I changed my dress and drove
to the house of the "suffering" doyenne. She had not
expected such quick inquiries, for she looked the picture
of health ; and I met on the staircase a court lackey evi-
dently bent on the same errand. She stammered a great
many things about her headache, and how, when she had
that particular kind of headache, she was incapacitated
from any effort. I sympathized deeply with her.

Her first question was, "Did the Queen have on the
sleeves?"

"Certainly," I answered, curtly.

January, 1891.

DEAR L., King Oscar is a king after one's ideas of
what a king ought to be. He looks the king every inch
of him, and that is saying a good deal, because he is
over six feet. He has a splendid physique, is handsome
and of much talent. He is a writer and a poet, and
speaks all languages. You must be told that some kings
are kings; but King Oscar, there is no doubt about
what he is!

At a concert the other evening he came and sat by

210



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me, and began talking of music, of his singing, and my
singing, and so forth, and finished by saying, "Would
you like to have me come to you some day and sing?"

"Of course, your Majesty," I said. "I should be
delighted. When may we have the honor of expecting
you?"

"How would next Thursday be?" he asked. "And
would half past two be agreeable to you?"

I replied, "Any day or any hour will suit me," although
it was in fact the only day which did not suit me, as it
was my reception-day.

"I hope that we may be quite by ourselves," said the
King. "Only you and the members of your Legation."

This I could easily promise, as I should have, in any
case, closed my doors.

"Your Majesty will stay and have a cup of tea, I
hope."

"With pleasure," he answered, "if that will not make
my visit too long."

"Too long, your Majesty! How could it be too
long?"

"Well, then, you may expect me."

How prepare for les details f Madame de Sevigny
writes somewhere, "que les details sont aussi chers a ceux
que nous aimons, qu'ils sont ennuyeux aux autres."

The servants laid the traditional red carpet on the
staircase. Palms and plants were put in every possible
place.

At two o'clock the servants were already on the watch.
The porte-cochere was wide open and the concierge all in
a flutter. The piano-tuner, who had just spent an hour
tuning my Bechstein, had departed when a cart drew

15 211



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

up in front of the door. What do you think it was?
Nothing less than the King's own piano, an upright one,
though it did connive at deception, as you will see. It
was one of those pianos with which one could, by turning
a key, lower the whole keyboard by half-tones, so that
a barytone could masquerade as a tenor and spare the
pianist the trouble of transposing the music, and no one
would be the wiser.

This was emotion No. i.

Emotion No. 2: a carriage which stood before the
door brought Mr. Halstrum, the pianist.

Emotion No. 3 was another carriage full of things a
music-stand, a quantity of music-books, his Majesty's
spectacles, and a mysterious basket.

Emotion No. 4 : the servants, with all their heads out of
the window, spied a carriage coming full tilt up the street.
In it was M. Odman, the best tenor from the Opera.

Finally the royal equipage, of which there could be no
doubt this time, was seen from way down the street.
J. descended the stairs to receive his Majesty as his car-
riage entered the porte-cochere. I stood at the door of
the apartment, and the King in his usual friendly man-
ner said a hearty, "God dag, god dag, Fru Hegermann!"

He was attended by only one chamberlain. We went
into the salon. After a little while the King said, "What
shall I sing for you?" and handed me a list of songs.

"Anything your Majesty sings will be delightful," I
answered, eagerly.

"Yes, but you must choose," the King said.

I chose one I wanted to hear, but the King had al-
ready decided beforehand what he wanted to sing. (I
might have spared myself the trouble.) He went tow-

212




KING OSCAR

From an autographed photograph taken in 1896



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

ard the piano, but before he sang he took out of the
mysterious basket an egg, which he broke and swallowed
raw, to clear his voice. He began at the first song on
the list, "Adeleide" (Beethoven), and sang that and one
after another of those on the list. It seemed queer to
have the roles reversed in this way. I generally sang
for royalty, but here royalty was singing for me.

The King and I sang the duet from "Romeo and
Juliet" and his brother's romance, "I Rosens doft,"
which I had sung with the King in Paris many years
ago. I sang some of my songs "Beware," of course.
I wondered when the tenor, whom I was longing to hear,
would come on the program. He only came once, and
that was when he sang a duet with his Majesty, a duet
which the King had had arranged from the Jacobite
song called "Charlie is my Darling."

The tenor, whose English was not his strong point,
sang with great pathos ' ' Cha-r-r-r-r-r-r-lie es my tarling,"
as if a love-sick maiden were calling her lover. When
the King sings he throws his whole soul into the music.
If Providence had bestowed a beautiful voice on him he
would have done wonders, but one cannot expect a
sovereign to give much time to cultivating his talents.

Our music finished, tea was served, and his Majesty,
apparently pleased with his visit, left at five o'clock.

Here is something the King wrote in my album which
is very characteristic of him: "If you do anything, do
it without delay and with your whole heart and mind."

January, 1891.

DEAR L., I am going to give you a detailed account
of the visit of the Crown Prince and Princess of Den-

213



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mark, their annual visit for the King's birthday. Johan
left the evening before to go to Kathrineholm, the last
station before Stockholm, in order to meet their High-
nesses, and from there to take the train and arrive here
with them. Several of the King's household did the
same.

I was at the station at eight o'clock. It is pitch-dark
here at that hour. I pitied J. when I thought of his hav-
ing to dress in full uniform in the little hotel at Kath-
rineholm.

The King and his four sons and gentlemen and ladies
belonging to the court and society quite filled the room
appropriated to royalty in Stockholm station.

The train steamed in, and steps were placed at the
door of the car. The Crown Princess descended, fol-
lowed by the Crown Prince, Prince Christian, Princess
Louise (the eldest daughter), and Prince Hans (the King
of Denmark's brother).

There was a great deal of kissing. The Princess was
beaming with joy, and said a word to every one.

The dinner at court was at six. It was a family dinner,
and as such the Queen was able to be present. As a rule,
she is not present at large dinners, because of her health.
The King gave his arm to our Princess, the Crown Prince
took the Queen. Prince Carl gave me his arm and put
me on the left of the King.

During the repast the King asked me if I had read
his book of travels. I regretted to say that I had not.
Then he called his chasseur, who always stands behind
his chair, and told him to beg the adjutant to see that
a copy of the book should be sent to me.

He talked a great deal of Paris, of his admiration

214



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for the Empress Eugenie, and how he had enjoyed his
visit during the Exposition of 1867. He said, "Do you
remember our excursion in my little boat when you,
the Princess Mathilde, and Marquis Callifet did me the
honor to come with me?"

"Yes, I remember very well, but I think the honor
was on our side."

"Do you remember," he said, "the guitar, and those
delightful songs you sang 'Beware?' Do you re-
member?"

I remembered, certainly, and wondered if I had ever
sung anything else in my life.

"And our going to the Rothschilds' place near Bou-
logne," he continued, "where the porter refused to let
us enter the park?"

"Yes," I replied. "But when he heard who you were
all the doors were thrown wide open."

"Those were pleasant days," the King said with a
sigh of recollection. "I was a good friend of yours,
and never will I change."

"I hope you never will, your Majesty."

"Never," he said. "When once I am a friend, I am
a friend for always, and I shall always be a good friend
to you." And, taking up my hand from the table, he
kissed it a most embarrassing moment for me!

Our ball was a great success. Perhaps you don't
know how festivities belonging to royal visits are man-
aged. Entertainments are prearranged three or four
weeks before the arrival of the royal guests.

I had never entertained royalty before, therefore I
was naturally rather nervous. I sent to Nice for kilos

215



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of flowers, and to Rome for mosaic brooches and little


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