L. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-Lindencrone.

The sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 online

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fiaschettis, which I filled with perfume. I sent to Paris
for canes and card-cases and silver pencils, and ar-
ranged a surprise for my guests. This was a fancy-dress
quadrille, to be danced by sixteen young people at the
beginning of the cotillon. Four couples were dressed
as shepherds and shepherdesses in different-colored
satins, with powdered hair and bright ribbons. The
other four were dressed as incroyables.

The great problem was how to arrange the different
suppers, of which there must be five or six. The royal-
ties must have a room to themselves. There must be
three separate suppers for the other guests, two for the
dancers, and two buffets going on all the evening.

In the ballroom a dais was arranged with a red bro-
cade for a background, on which were two red chairs
for the King and the Crown Princess.

After giving the last orders J. and I stood at the doors
to receive our guests, who soon began pouring in. People
in Sweden are always very punctual, and arrive pre-
cisely at the time for which they are invited. Of course,
when royalty is present one should be a little earlier.

Here the host always names the hour when the car-
riages are to be ordered. I think this is very wise, be-
cause if the poor horses had to stand out in the cold,
waiting until their masters chose to go home, they would
freeze to death. Fortunately, my dress, ordered from
Paris, arrived just the day before.

At half past nine the servant announced the arrival
of the royal carriages. J. and the secretaries flew down-
stairs, two servants raced after them, each carrying a
candelabrum of six lighted candles. After J. had helped



the King from the carriage he took the candelabra
from the servants and preceded the King up the stairs
to where I stood, according to custom, on the threshold
of the door. I presented to the Crown Princess a large
bouquet of red and white roses (the Danish colors) , with
long streaming ribbons to match, and a smaller bouquet
to the Princess Louise.

The tambour, a curious name given to an antechamber
in Sweden, seemed overflowing with dazzling uniforms
and showy liveries. It was a very cold night, and all the
guests were muffled up to the tips of their noses when they
came in. The display of india-rubbers was stupendous.
You can see how necessary were the twenty-two large
porcelain stoves which, in Sweden, are built into the
walls. For my ballroom I was obliged to add an Amer-
ican stove of the kind one fills once a day from the top.

The King gave me his arm, and as we entered the salon
every one courtesied to the ground. Then the Crown
Princess came in with J.

Tea was passed, and when the usual ceremonies like
presentations and greetings were finished, the quadrille
d'honneur commenced.

The King took his place on the dais and watched the

At eleven o'clock supper was announced. In entering
the supper-room the King gave me his arm, the others

We were fifteen at our table, ten of whom were

J. did not sit down to supper with us, as it is not the
custom in Sweden for the host to absent himself from
the rest of his guests.



Now came the moment for the surprise!

When the royal guests were seated on the dais, suf-
ficient space was made in front of them, the door opened
from a side-room, and the dancers entered.

I think those sixteen young people showed much self-
denial to be willing to forego the early pleasures of the
ball, as they had to do, and give up the time when others
were dancing to being dressed, wigged, powdered, and
painted. I had to put four rooms at their disposal, two
for the ladies with their maids, one for the gentlemen
and their valets, and one for their refreshments and supper.

The shepherds and shepherdesses looked and danced
their quadrille charmingly. The music for this was the
mazurka from "Romeo and Juliet." When the in-
croydbles came in there was a murmur of admiration.
They were beautifully dressed. They wore black satin
costumes, and the ladies had white ruffs round their
necks. The gentlemen wore high collars and lace ja-
bots. Each had a long stick in his hand and a monocle
in his eye. The shepherds stood back while the in-
croyables danced their quadrille. The music of this was
the "Gavotte Louis XIII." As I had chosen the eight
prettiest girls in Stockholm, the effect was perfectly
enchanting. After the second quadrille they joined
forces and danced a ronde to the music of "Le Galop
Injernal" of "Orphte aux Enfers" (Offenbach). It was
a great success, and the King desired them to dance it
over again.

The King thought it must have been a tremendous
undertaking, but I told him that it was no trouble to
me, as the ballet-master from the theater had taught



These young people stayed in their pretty costumes
for the cotillon, which commenced directly after their

In Sweden people are not blase as to cotillon favors.
They are not accustomed to receive anything more
elaborate than flowers and little bows, so I think they
all went home happy with their gifts.

There is such a queer custom here. During the
cotillon, at the same time with the ices, beer is served,
and something they call mandel-melck (milk mixed with
almond essence). The young ladies also have to be
sustained every little while by huge glasses of the black-
est of porter.

The royal guests left at two o'clock; then we had a
sit-down supper for those remaining. At five o'clock I
found myself in my bed, tired out but happy that every-
thing had gone off so well.

The next day the Crown Prince of Sweden had ar-
ranged a tobogganing party at Dyrsholm. We were a
very gay company of twenty-four, meeting at the station
to take the little local train to Dyrsholm, and arriving
about twelve o'clock.

Here we found an excellent luncheon which his Royal
Highness had ordered, and which was, oh, so acceptable
to us hungry mortals! On excursions of this kind in
this cold latitude one is obliged to be very careful not
to eat and especially not to drink too much, as there is
always danger of congestion.

It was a glorious day, the sun shining brilliantly in a
clear sky, but bitterly cold. The thermometer, I was
told, was eighteen below zero; I would have said thirty.
We ladies were muffled up to our ears in fur, our feet



buried in pomposhes, which are long, india-rubber boots
lined with fur, and when we stood in the snow we had
great shoes lined with straw.

Everything about us was white ; the trees, were loaded
with icicles and snow. The hill down which we to-
boganned was very steep, ending in a long slide over
the frozen lake. The snow on both sides of our path
was piled up four feet high at least. The fun of to-
boganning is the bunker. The sudden rise gives you
such an impetus, and on the other side you get such a
tremendous bump that generally one, if not both, of
you fall off head first in the snow.

One must be an adept to manage these sleds. The
Crown Prince toboganned, as he did everything else, to
perfection. Of course, each prince had his own sled
and invited some lady to go with him. The lady gen-
erally sits in front, with her legs stretched out, and holds
on to everything she can, her clothes in particular. The
gentleman sits behind, steering with his feet.

The Crown Prince went often alone, and then he
would lie flat on his stomach and steer with his long legs,
as if he were sculling a boat. I did not feel the least
nervous when I went with him, but I confess I did feel
a little shy when I had to put my arms round his neck
and clutch him for dear life when we jumped the bunker.
He preferred having his companion behind him.

The revers de la mdaille was the toiling up the long
slope in the intense cold. I wondered if the pleasure
was worth the toil, but if one did not go down on the
sleds one would have to stay on the top of the hill and

We enjoyed this sport till darkness put an end to it;



From a photograph taken in 1895 when he was Crown Prince Gustav.
The crown and robe were worn at the formal opening of the Riksdag by his
father. King Oscar.


then we returned, tired, cold, and hungry to town, to
dine hurriedly and be ready for the theater at eight
o'clock a gala performance.

J. and I were invited to sit in the royal box. The
opera was "Orphee," by Gluck. The Crown Princess
suffers agonies when she hears music (everything sounds
false to her sensitive ears). Therefore, to spare her,
they had chosen the shortest opera.

In the entr'actes refreshments were served in the small
salon which is kept in reserve for the King. It is the
same room where King Gustave III. retired when he
attended the ball which proved so fatal to him on the
night of his assassination. The libretto of "Ballo in
Maschera," by Verdi, is made on this subject, and the
scene laid in Boston.


DEAR L., The opening of the Rigsdag is a great event
in Stockholm. The Corps Diplomatique met in the room
in the palace called Kronesal. The walls are covered
with the three gold crowns of the Swedish coat of arms
painted on a blue background. They passed on through
the rooms of the Order of the Sword, which had just as
many swords on its walls as the other had crowns. You
can never make a mistake as to where you are! The
ladies were told to wear toilette de mile, and the gentle-
men to dress in gala uniform.

Just before the time the King was to come in we were
ushered down a little narrow staircase which led into
the Rigsdag, passed in front of the throne, and went up
a still narrower staircase to the gallery reserved for the
diplomats, which seemed very shaky. Some day when
the Rigsdag is opening there will be a collapse of diplomats.



The body of the hall was filled with the gentlemen,
all the members of the two Chambers in evening dress
and the court officials in their uniforms.

When the Queen is present, which is not often, she
sits opposite the Corps Diplomatique, surrounded by the
ladies of the court, who wear little white fur capes over
their shoulders.

The galleries on both sides were filled with the nobility
and society. The throne on which King Oscar sat is on
a raised platform filling the whole end of the hall. The
throne is unique, made of silver, silver lions supporting
it on both sides. Back of the throne was a long blue
velvet curtain hanging from the canopy.

Everything was ready and every one in his place.
A deep silence reigned throughout. There was a blast
of trumpets; every one stood up, and the King came
down the same little staircase we had. He looked very
majestic in his splendid robes of ermine, over which
hung the blue Order of the Seraphim, the highest order
in Sweden, and of course all his other decorations. The
crown he wears is magnificent, made of costly jewels,
and, I should think, very heavy, causing the King to
hold his head very straight and steady. He looked up
at the loge of the diplomats, made a slight inclination of
the head, then mounted the few steps of the throne and
sat in his silver chair.

The Crown Prince came next, followed by Prince
Carl and Prince Eugen. The three are as tall as the
King. They wore blue velvet mantles trimmed with
ermine, their uniforms showing underneath, and as if
they had been handed down, but not let down, from
former and shorter Princes.



They wore crowns which seemed difficult to balance
on their heads.

The King took the Proclamation from the hands of
his Rigskanzler and, standing up, read it in a loud and
clear voice. He did not use his eye-glasses, because
the letters were made so large that he could read with-
out them. It was a fine and thrilling moment.

The Rigsdag being opened, the King left as he had


DEAR L, Prince Chira, one of the sons of the King
of Siam, came to see us to-day. He has just returned
from St. Petersburg. We were very glad to see him
again. We knew him so well in Copenhagen, where he
has been living for some years. He has been in the
Danish army, and, although only nineteen years old,
has passed the most difficult examinations, and is now
an officer. He talks English, French, and Danish with
equal facility. When at Aalholm he entered into all
our games and charades with enthusiasm.

He did not mind at all being dressed up as a
Sambo, and favored particularly a yellow wig. He has
very yellowish skin, almond eyes, and beautiful white
teeth. He came to see us straight from the castle, where
he had been to see the King. He was very enthusiastic
about his Majesty (who is not?). He told us how the
King had taken the grand cordon of the Seraphim
Order off his own shoulders and hung it on his. The
King being a giant, and Prince Chira about the size of
a boy of ten, you can imagine how the cordon fitted
him. Chira said, "I reached up to about the King's
waist, and when the King put the cordon on me it trailed



on the ground, and I kept tripping over it when I left
the room. It is most awkward," he added, laughing,
"and I must wear it to-night at the big dinner at court
which the King gives me."

"Leave it with me, and I will have a tuck made in it
and send it to you before dinner." This he did. We
measured off how much of a tuck should be made, and
sent it to him in time. He came the next day to thank
me and bid us good-by. He said, "I looked splendid
last night in my cordon.' 1

In June and July it is never really dark in these lati-
tudes. The sun shines till eleven o'clock, the birds
sing and bustle about during the so-called night, and
the cocks begin to crow at absurd hours. They must
be perplexed as to what they are doing all these months.
The early bird has to be very early to get off with the

BAYREUTH, August, 1893.

DEAR L, At last my dream of dreams has become a
reality under what enchanting conditions! Mrs. L.,
my beloved friend, invited me to stay three weeks with
her in the apartment which she has taken, 28 Opern-
strasse, which was the habitation of Wagner's special
doctor. Mrs. L.'s other guests were her sister, her
niece, and Mr. and Mrs. Brimmer from Boston. Johan
promised to join us later. Mrs. L. had her own cook
and servants, and we lived like princes of the blood.
A walk about the streets in the morning, then a sumptu-
ous lunch, and then a little siesta to fit us for the rest
(or rather fatigue) of the day.

At a little before four the carriages were at the door,
and we drove up the hill to the Shrine, passing the foot-



sore and weary pilgrims toiling on their way. The ser-
vant took our hats and coats, for no one must wear a
hat in the audience, and no one needed a coat in this
awful heat.

The signal to enter the auditorium is given by a blast
of trumpets, generally the four bars of the most well-
known melody in the to-be-given opera. The only
boxes in the theater are in the rear, and Madame Wag-
ner sits with her family in the middle one. After the
people have taken their seats the house becomes pitch-
dark, and from the depths of the unknown one hears
the first notes of the overture. Then the curtains are
noiselessly drawn up. After this no one dares to breathe
woe to the unlucky one who gets a fit of sneezing
or a tickling in the throat; better die at once than be
the recipient of all the inward curses that are hurled
at you! The first act generally lasts an hour, and the
people emerge from the stifling auditorium into the
fresh air with a sigh of relief. The Germans make dashes
of kangaroo leaps toward the casks of beer, and then
rush for the tents where they get something to eat at
the price of blood.

The entr'acte lasts an hour; then we hear the blasts
of the four heralds again, which is the signal for the
second act to commence, and so on until ten o'clock at
night. Then home, where we find a gorgeous diner -
soupertoire which triumphantly ends a day of emotion.

Wagner's operas, which lay about on our tables, all
seem to have been given by him to meinem lieben Freund,
the doctor. How I regret that dishonesty did not get
the upper hand! How easy it would have been for me
to have purloined a book and its signature, but I am



proud to say that I resisted, and my collection of auto-
graphs is to this day devoid of anything from Richard
Wagner, showing that virtue is not always its own re-
ward, since I regret having been virtuous.

The off days were also delightful. We drove to the
Hermitage, lingered in the grounds belonging to the
gentle and clever Margrafin, and wondered if her tiny
little court was not a trifle ennuyeux ! One could fancy
her sitting under the shady trees of the charmille, sew-
ing beads on some bags, specimens of which were ex-
hibited to us by an officious menial, and were of the most
hideous description. I say hideous because I hate beads
and all their works. I have just finished reading her
memoirs, and I can only think how small their talk
must have been how narrow their visions!

We drove to the other pretty resort, Bellevue, and
meandered about the rococco gardens, and sat on the
stone benches surrounding the lake, and watched the
graceful movements of the swans as they tried to avoid
the spray from the fountains. We tried not to see the
native music-lovers who clustered in crowds about the
tables, which were covered with red checker-board table-
covers and drinking-mugs. They sit under these lovely
shady groves for hours, in their thick coats, which they
wear in any season and in any climate, their ponderous
field-glasses slung over their fat shoulders and their
pockets bulging with guide-books and postal cards,
swallowing by barrelfuls the cool and beloved beer and
eating Butterbrod by platefuls.

On Saturday evenings Madame Wagner called fa-
miliarly Frau Cosima opens her salon, and every one
goes who can get an invitation. There is generally



music, and the best artists from the Opera-house are
delighted to sing. Also the inevitable pianist who is
' ' the finest interpreter of Chopin. ' ' (Did you ever know
one who was not?)

Very interesting evenings, these, because one sees
all the notabilities that flock to Bayreuth. Princes,
plebeians, and artists meet here in the limitless brother-
hood of music.

Madame Nordica has been singing throughout this
season. Her Lohengrin is Van Dyke, and Gruning plays
Tristan to her Isolde. Her voice is charming, and she
acts very well, besides being very good to look at. She
has a promising affaire de coeur with a tenor called Dohme,
Hungarian by birth, and, I should say, anything by
nature. He is handsome, bold, and conceited, and
thinks he can sing "Parsifal." Madame Nordica has,
I believe, sung for nothing, on the condition that her
fiance should make his debut here previous to taking the
world by storm, but Madame Cosima, with foresight and
precaution, has been putting him off (and her on) until
the last day of the season, which was yesterday. Then
Frau Cosima allowed him to make his appearance, upon
which he donned his tunic, put on the traditional blond
wig, took his spear in hand, and set forth to conquer.
His first phrase, "Das weiss ich nicht," which is about
all he has to say in the first act, was coldly received.
However, his bare legs and arms were admired from the
rear as he stood his half -hour looking at the Holy Grail.
In the second act, where he resists Kundry's question-
able allurements, he did passably well, though he gave
the impression that even for a reiner Thor the German
for a virtuous fool she had no charms. She was a

16 227


masterful, fat, and hideous German lady, and when she
twisted a curl out of her yellow wig and sang, "Diese
Loche" and cast her painted lips at him with the threat,
"Diese Lippe," he remained hopelessly indifferent, with
a not-if-I-know-it expression on his face. He was nei-
ther a singer nor an actor, and did not have a shadow
of success. But he thought he had, and that was
enough for him. It is not allowed in Bayreuth to show
any sign of approval (or the contrary) until the curtain
falls on the last act of the last performance. Then the
public calls the artists out en masse. Parsifal came with
the others, and looked more like an Arab beggar than
anything resembling a Parsifal. Madame Nordica took
her fiance off the next day. She received from Madame
Cosima a lace fan, with thanks, for her exertions during
the Bayreuth season, but she was repaid enough by the
satisfaction of seeing her fiance make his debut, his first
and last appearance, I fancy.

They went to Nuremberg the next day and had rooms
near ours. We could hear her trilling with joy during
their dinner duets, and when I went to see her in her
apartment the Conquering Hero told stories about him-
self which I accepted at a fifty-per-cent. discount. Ma-
dame Nordica has certainly the loveliest of voices. What
a pity the tenor of her life should not have a better chance
to run smooth, for run smooth it will not with such a
Thor in her possession.

STOCKHOLM, June, 1894.

DEAR L., You will wonder why you have not heard
from me for such a long time, but we have just returned
from a trip to Norway. You know J. is accredited there
as well as in Sweden, and he has to put in an occasional



appearance, and we thought while he was putting that
in we would put ours in with it. Our party included
Nina and Frederick.

For five days we careened over mountains and dales,
driving, sailing, riding Norwegian ponies, and always
enjoying ourselves to the utmost. One who has not seen
the Norwegian fjords does not know how beautiful and
picturesque the scenery is. You must come some day
and see it for yourself.

We reached Bergen the 24th of June, the longest day
of the year. There is no question of its being really
dark, only between i and 2 A.M. you cannot see to read.
It is a lovely time to travel, because you can travel the
whole twenty-four hours.

Bergen is a very pretty town, with clean streets and
nice shops. The jewelry, silver, and fur shops are really
quite wonderful, but there is always a thorn to every
rose the smell of fish pervades the town. Go where
you will, you cannot escape it. You don't wonder at
this when you visit the fish-markets and see the monsters
which are brought out of the deep every morning. They
look like small whales.

Nina and I, with the energy of the American woman
who knows what she wants and knows how to get it,
were determined to see Grieg in his surroundings. We
hired a carriage in Bergen and started on our pilgrimage.
It needed not only the energy of an American, but the
tongue of a Dane and the perserverance of Danaides.
The Griegs live in the most unget-at-able place that you
can imagine, because he does not want any one to get
at him.

However, after driving for miles and worrying the life



out of our driver by poking him in the back with our
umbrellas and asking him if we had not arrived and when
we should arrive, and such useless questions, our poor
tired steed climbed a long hill where the road suddenly
ended its course. We were obliged to leave the carriage
and make the rest of the hill on foot, only to encounter,
on arriving at a gate bearing these large and forbidding
letters: "Her boer Edward Grieg, som onsker at vaere fri
for folk." ("Here lives Edward Grieg, who wishes to be
let alone.")

But Nina and I were not to be balked by such a trifle
as Edward Grieg's wishes, and with some difficulty we
managed to unfasten the hasp of the wooden gate. We
expected to see a dragon or a ferocious bulldog fly at
us, but all was peaceful within, and we walked into the
lair without being molested, and marched boldly to the
front door of the villa. There Mrs. Grieg opened the
door to us and was (she said) delighted to see us. ' ' And, ' '
she added, "how happy Grieg will be, too!" This, we
thought, was doubtful, but Grieg pretended to be very

We stayed as long as we dared, and, on being offered
tea and cakes and urged to stay longer, we were shown,
as a great privilege, the little summer-house at the bot-
tom of the hill where Grieg retires when he wishes to

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Online LibraryL. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-LindencroneThe sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 → online text (page 15 of 22)