L. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-Lindencrone.

The sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 online

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compose, and where Mrs. Grieg or any other angel
dare not to tread. He has a grand Steinway. This is
about the only American thing which Grieg does not
hate. He said that he would have been a rich man if
America had given him a royalty on his music, which is,
as he said, played in every house in America. They
bemoaned that they were overrun by American lady



CHRISTIANA, Nov. 30, 1891.

My wife's and my own heartiest thanks for your kind
telegram. I received it eight days too late by a perfectly
incomprehensible and unfortunate mistake, but the joy over
your greeting was none the less therefor. We remember so
often and so willingly the beautiful time in Rome where you
showed us so much kindness. We hope and wish to have a
glimpse of you at not a too distant day, perhaps in Stockholm.
With best greetings to your husband from us both.

Your devoted



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reporters. That was the reason they had put that
notice on the gate to keep them off the premises. They
would beg, he said, "just to look at the garden and
pluck a little ukrut [weed], and then go away and write
all sorts of nonsense, as if they had dragged all my
secrets out of me. They are terrible," he added, "your
lady compatriots."

Grieg played some of his latest compositions, which
were perfectly exquisite, and played them as only he
can. He was full of fun, and told us of an American
songstress who had been one of those who had "got in."
She insisted on singing for him "Jeg elsker dig," and made
a cadenza of her own at the end. He said Mrs. Grieg
almost fainted, and that his own hair had not finished
standing on end ever since. He played this awful
cadenza for us, and I must say it was ridiculous. Mrs.
Grieg sings delightfully nothing but Grieg, of course.
She has not a strong voice, but sings with exquisite pathos
and charm.

Grieg loves to talk of his rude behavior and dwell
with pleasure on his brusque speeches. He said a young
American lady asked him to teach her one of his songs,
and after she had sung it he turned round on the piano-
stool and said:

"Are you singing for your living?"
"No," she answered, "I sing for my pleasure."
"Don't you think that dancing would be pleasanter?"
he asked.

It was evident that they saw us go with regret; we
certainly left them with regret. They looked, as they
stood there together waving farewell, like two little gray
elves; she with her short gray dress and short gray



hair; and he with his long gray coat and long gray hair
a Grieg study in gray.

STOCKHOLM, September, 1894.

DEAR L., Just as I was going to get a little rest, who
should come to Stockholm but the Prince of Naples?
I begged him to give us one evening before he left, which
he promised to do. He seemed as glad to see us as we
were to see him.

"What would your Highness like best," I asked him,
"an official dinner followed by a reception, or a little
dinner with a dance?"

"Oh, madame, the little dinner and a little dance, by
all means."

So a little dinner it was. He does not care for danc-
ing, but he knew the lancers and quadrilles, and we
danced those. We played " Fox and geese"; I fancy,
from seeing his amusement, that he had never had a real
romp in all his life. To finish, we danced a Virginia reel.
This was new to him and pleased him immensely. He
insisted upon going through the entire dance until every
couple had done its part.

A few days later King Oscar sent me the decoration
of Litteris at Artibus, which I shall wear on great oc-
casions. This decoration is a gold medal, and the ribbon
that goes with it is blue. Queen Christina of Sweden
instituted the order. The medal is only given to women
of merit, artistic or literary. Jenny Lind, Frederika
Bremer, and Christina Nillson," and others have it.

I have become the doyenne of the Diplomatic Corps.
I intend to make my colleagues walk very straight. So
far my duties consist of dancing in quadrilles d'honneur
and always being taken into supper before every one



else, and having the first place everywhere; I take
precedence of all guests. These honors do not turn my

STOCKHOLM, April, 1897.

DEAR L., We have been named to Paris.

Never did people have such a time getting away from
a place.

All our furniture except a sofa and two chairs had
been packed, and was already on the way to Paris.

The entire morning I was busy receiving notes and
bouquets of all dimensions, tied with every imaginable
national color.

We breakfasted with our colleagues from Germany,
who had the apartment above us. While still at table
a royal chamberlain announced that King Oscar was
coming in half an hour to bid us good-by. Heavens!
How could we receive his Majesty without carpets or
curtains, only the sofa and two chairs ! What a predica-
ment! But our good arid kind friends came bravely to
the rescue. They offered to send down rugs, palms,
and flowers, so that we could receive our royal guest in
the curtainless room. Well, the palms and plants did
certainly make the room look more inviting. J. camped
on the one chair, and the King and I sat on the sofa.
The King stayed half an hour. We were as sorry to
leave him as he was to have us go. He kissed me on my
forehead, and kissed J. on both cheeks, and said, "I shall
come to Paris to see you."

J. escorted the King down-stairs and put him in his
carriage, while I wiped away a tear.

The royal visit over, our borrowed plumes were re-
turned. Hardly was the apartment bare again when



there came a court lackey telling our bewildered valet
that the "Crown Prince would be at the house in a
short moment." Our colleagues most amiably sent the
rugs, etc., do\vn again, and we sat in state and waited.

The Prince came, bringing a large photograph of him-
self, and said many nice things, expressing his sorrow
that we were going to leave Stockholm, and bade us

The time was gradually approaching when I should
put on my hat to depart.

There were still a lot of things to be attended to at
the last moment. Our people had to be bid good-by
and paid, and thousands of trifles, as you may imagine,
to be thought of, and I began to despair of getting
away. I seriously proposed to J. to pretend to leave,
bidding people good-by at the station, and stop at
the first place, to return the next morning and finish
quietly what seemed so impossible to do then.

What was our dismay, then, at receiving a telephone
message from Prince Carl, asking if I could receive him.
Of course, I answered I would be proud, and our col-
leagues above, learning of this new complication, sent,
without begging, the useful and ornamental things which
had adorned our salon before.

Prince Carl came. He brought me a little bunch of
lilies-of-the-valley, intending a gentle allusion to my
name. We were very sad at the idea that we were
to part, but part we must, and pretty soon. The tired
rugs were taken back once more.

Prince Eugen kindly telephoned that he wished to
say good-by. It was already so late that there was no
question of the rugs, for it was within an hour of our


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departure; therefore we were obliged to receive the
Prince without any accessories. He came with a little
offering of flowers. However, that did not make any
difference, because we all stood up. It is the custom here
in Stockholm that every one goes to the station to speed
the parting guest. The station was overcrowded. We
were showered with the good wishes of two hundred and
fifty people, and flowers were in such quantities that we
had to have an extra compartment for them.



PARIS, 1897-1902

PARIS, May, 1897.

DEAR L., I can hardly believe that we have been
here a month. The time has slipped by, as it has a way
of doing when one is frightfully busy; in my case it was
particularly exasperating.

Johan's secretary took rooms for us at the Hdtel Chat-
ham, which was not a very good choice, as you will see.

The day for Johan to present his lettres de creance was
fixed for the 2oth of April. M. Crozier, the gentleman
who introduces Ambassadors and Ministers to the Presi-
dent, appeared with two landaus, escorted by a detach-
ment of the Garde Nationale.

The little courtyard of the hotel could not contain
more than the carriages; the horsemen were obliged to
stay in the very narrow rue Daunou, which they filled
from one end to the other.

While the two gentlemen were exchanging their greet-
ings I slipped out and walked down the rue de la Paix,
which I found barred from the rue Daunou as far as the
rue de Rivoli.

I felt very proud when I thought from whom it was

I went into a shop while the brilliant cortege was pass-
ing and, feigning ignorance, asked the woman at the

"What is this procession?"



"Oh! Cest un de ces diplomats, " she said, shrugging
her shoulders.

I left the shop without buying anything a paltry
revenge on my part; still it was a revenge.

We have found a suitable apartment in the rue Pierre
Charron, and I have just now begun to look up some of
my old friends. Alas! there are not many left, but
those who are seem glad to see me. My first official
visit was to Madame Faure. This was easily managed.
I simply went on one of her reception-days. An Elysian
master of ceremonies was waiting for me, and I followed
him into the salon where Madame Faure sat, surrounded
by numerous ladies. A servant wrestled in vain with
my name, "Crone" being the only thing he seized, but
the master of ceremonies announced to the President
that I was the Danish Minister's wife, after which things
went smoothly. To leave no doubt in the other guests'
minds that I was a person of distinction and the wife of
a Minister Madame Faure asked me innumerable ques-
tions about Monsieur le Ministre.

We were scarcely settled when there came the awful
catastrophe of the burning of the Bazar de Charite, about
which you have probably read. I had promised to go
to it, and I can say that my life literally hung on a
thread, for if my couturiere had kept her word and sent
my dress home at the time she promised I should cer-
tainly have gone and would probably have been burned
up with the others. Marquise de Gallifet also owed her
life to my not going. She came to make me a visit and
lingered a little. This little saved her life. She entered
the fated bazar just a moment before the fire broke out,
and therefore managed to escape.



Frederikke and I drove to the offending dressmaker.
(How I blessed her afterward!) When we passed the
Cours la Reine we were very much astonished to see a
man without a hat, very red in the face, waving two
blackened hands in the most excited manner. He
jumped into a cab and drove away as fast as the horse
could gallop. Then we saw a young lady, bareheaded,
in a light dress, rushing through the street, and another
lady leaning up against the wall as if fainting. The air
was filled with the smell of burning tar and straw, and
we noticed some black smoke behind the houses. I
thought it must come from a stable burning in the neigh-
borhood. We had been so short a time in Paris that I
did not realize how near we were to the street where
the bazar was held.

At half past five we drove through the rue Francois
I er on our way home and saw a few people collected on
the Place, otherwise there seemed nothing unusual.
When we passed through the avenue Montaigne we met
Monsieur Hanotaux (Minister of Foreign Affairs) in a
cab, looking wildly excited. He stood up and screamed
to me, "Vous etes sauvee." What could he mean?

I thought that he was crazy. I screamed back, "Que
dites vous?" but he was already out of hearing. It was
only when we reached home that we learned what had
happened and understood what he had meant.

How dreadful were the details!

The bazar was in a vacant lot inclosed by the walls
of surrounding houses, from which the only exit was
through the room where a cinematograph had been put
up. This, being worked by a careless operator, took



The interior of the bazar consisted of canvas walls,
of which one part represented a street called Vicux

The bazar was crowded ; the stalls were presided over
by the most fashionable ladies of Paris, and there were
many gentlemen in the crowd of buyers.

When the fire broke out a gentleman whose wife was
one of the stall-holders stood up near the door and cried
out, "Mesdames, n'ayez pas peur. II n'y a pas de dan-
ger," and quietly went out, leaving people to their fates.

Then came the panic.

Young ladies were trampled to death by their dancing-
partners of the evening before. One of them was en-
gaged to be married, and when her fiance" walked over
her body, in his frenzy to escape, she cried to him,
"Suavez moi, pour I' amour de Dieu!" He screamed back,
"Tout le monde pour soi," and disappeared.

She was saved by a groom from the stables opposite.
She was horribly burned, but probably will live, though
disfigured for life. Under the wooden floor were thrown
all the debris tar, shavings, paper, etc. This burned
very quickly, and the floor fell in, engulfing those who
could not escape; the tarred roof and the canvas walls
fell on them. What an awful death!

The kitchen of a small hotel, which formed one side
of the vacant lot, had one window about four feet from
the ground. This was covered with stout iron bars.
The cook, when he realized the disaster, managed to
break the bars and, pushing out a chair, was able to
drag a great many women through the window. He and
the stable-boy were the only persons who seemed to
have done anything toward helping.



Of course, around the uprooted and demolished turn-
stile was the greatest number of victims, but masses
were found heaped together before the canvas represent-
ing the street of Vieux Paris. The poor things in their
agony imagined that it really was a street. It was all
over in an hour. It seems almost incredible that such
a tragedy could have taken place in so short a time.
And to think that the whole catastrophe could have
been averted by the expenditure of a few francs ! When
the architect heard that there was to be a cinemato-
graph put up he pointed out the danger and begged
that some firemen should be engaged. The president
of the committee asked how much this would cost and,
on being told twenty francs for each fireman, replied,
"I think we will do without them."

The Duchesse d'Alengon and the wife and daughters
of the Danish Consul-General were among the victims.
The dead were all taken to the Palais de ITndustrie
and laid out in rows. Through the whole night people
searched with lanterns among the dead for their loved
ones. It was remarked that, though there were many
men's canes and hats, there was not one man found
among the burned. Not one man in all Paris acknowl-
edged that he had been to the Bazar.

Within an incredibly short time subscriptions amount-
ing to over a million francs were collected. From Amer-
ica came many messages of sympathy and a great deal
of money. But no one could be found except the cook
and the stable-boy who had done anything to merit a
reward. After giving them large sums the rest of the
money went to form a fund for the building of a chapel
in commemoration of the disaster.

17 243


PARIS, 1897.

DEAR L, Social life here is very confusing and fatigu-
ing; physically, because distances are so immense. Peo-
ple live everywhere, from the lie St.-Louis to the gates
of St. -Cloud. Hardly a part of Paris where some one
you know does not live. The very act of leaving a few
cards takes a whole afternoon.

In reality there are three societies which make life
for a diplomat, whose duty it is to be well with every
one, very complicated and unending. The official sea-
son for dinners, receptions, and soirees is in the winter;
French society, just returned from the Riviera and Italy,
has its real season in spring, when Longchamps and
Auteuil have races and Puteaux has its sports. The
autumn is the time when strangers flock to Paris; then
commence the restaurant and theater parties. How
can any lady have a reception -day where people of all
countries, all politics, and all societies meet ? Impossible !
I have tried it, and I am sorry to say that my receptions
are dead failures. Still, I persevere, as I am told it is
my duty to receive.

When our first invitation to the ball of the Elysees
came I was most anxious to see what it would be like.
Is it not strange that the cards of invitation are the
same used in the Empire. "La P residence de la Re-
publique Fran$aise" stands instead of "La Maison de
I'Empereur." I have the two before me, the old and
the new, and they are exactly alike, color, paper, and
engraving !

The Diplomatic Corps has a separate entrance at the
filysees. We were met and conducted by a master of
ceremonies to the room where the President and Ma-



dame Faure were standing. M. Faure is called un
President dfaoratif. He is tall, handsome, and has what
you might call princely manners. The privileged ones
passed before them and shook hands, quite a I'Amgri-
caine. I was named by M. Crozier and got from M.
Faure an extra squeeze by way of emphasizing that I
was a new-comer.

We then passed into the salon where our colleagues
were assembled, and did not move from there until the
presidential pair came in at eleven o'clock. At these
balls there are a great many too many people in-
vited. I have been told that there are six thousand in-
vitations sent out. To one gentleman is assigned the
duty to stay in the first salon and pass in review the
toilets of the promiscuous guests and judge if they are
suitable. When he sees a lady (?) in a high woolen
dress with thick and soiled boots in which she has prob-
ably walked to the ball, he politely tells her that there
must be some mistake about her invitation, and she
walks meekly back to her comptoir.

When M. and Madame Faure had finished receiv-
ing, they came into the room where the diplomats
were; and the President, giving his arm to the lady
highest in rank (the protocole arranged the other couples)
we marched through the crowd of gazers-on, through
the ballroom, where some youths and maidens were
whirling in the dance, through the palm-filled winter
garden, where the people were crowded around a buffet,
and through all the salons until we reached the last one,
quite at the end of the palace, where a sumptuous buf-
fet awaited us. At one o'clock we returned home. It
amused me to see old Waldteufel still wielding his baton



and playing his waltzes as of old. I wanted to speak
to him, but, being in the procession, I could not stop.

Yesterday I had a visit from Adelina Patti. I had
not seen her for a long time. It seemed only the other
day that I had written a letter condoling with her on
the death of Nicolini, her second husband. This time
she was accompanied by her third husband, Baron
Cederstrom, a very fine-looking Swede whose family we
knew well in Sweden. The diva looked wonderfully
young, and handsomer than ever. When they came
into the salon together one could not have remarked
very much difference in their ages, though he is many
years younger than she is.

Massenet comes often to see me. He is a great man
now. He and Saint-Saens are the most famous musi-
cians of France at the present moment. Massenet has
never forgotten old kindnesses; and, no matter where he
is, whether on a platform at a concert, or in a drawing-
room full of people, he always plays as a prelude or an
improvization the first bars of a favorite song of his I
used to sing. He sends me a copy of everything he com-
poses, and always writes the three bars of that song on
the first page.

Among others we find our friend Marquise de Podesta.
She is a sort of lady in waiting to Ex-Queen Isabella
of Spain. I went to see her at the Queen's beautiful
palace in the avenue Kleber. I was delighted when she
asked me if I would like to make the acquaintance of
the Queen. I went two days later to what she called
an "audience." The Queen received me in a beautiful
room lined with old Gobelin tapestry and furnished with
great taste. She is rather heavy and stout and wears



From an autographed photograph taken in 1894


a quantity of brown hair plastered over her temples,
which does not give her the height a Queen ought to
have. She was very amiable, asked many questions
about places and people I knew, and before I was
aware of it I found myself spinning out lengthy tales.
I should have much preferred she do the talking.

The Empress Eugenie is now here. And fancy ! living
at the Hotel Continental, right opposite the gardens of
the Tuileries. I have not seen her for six years (since
Cap-Martin) . Baron Petri, who always accompanies her,
answered my note asking if I might come to see her,
saying that the Empress would receive me with pleasure.
You may imagine my emotion at seeing her again. I
found her seated at the window facing the Tuileries.
How could she bear to be so near her old home? As if
reading my thoughts, she said: "You wonder that I
came here to this h6tel. It is very sad. There are so
many memories. But it seems to bring me nearer mon
fits bien aime. I have him always before me. My poor
Louis! I can see him as a little boy, when he used to
drive out in his carriage, always surrounded by the cent
gardes." She told me of the terrible journey she had
made to South Africa. She had wished to go over the
same route that the Prince had taken on his way to
Zululand. How dreadful it must have been for her!
Can one imagine anything more tragic? Her only
child, whom she loved beyond anything in the world,
whom she hoped to see on the throne! The future
monarch of France ! a Napoleon ! to be killed by a few
Zulus, in a war not in any way connected with France.
The Empress appeared weighed down with grief; never-
theless, she seemed to like to talk with me. I wish I



could have heard more, but the arrival of the Princess
Mathilde interrupted us, and I left.

The papal nonce (Ambassador of the Pope) had his
official reception last week in his hotel, rue Legendre,
which is far too small to hold all the people who went
there. All Paris, in fact. No one is invited to these re-
ceptions, but every one thinks it a duty and a polite-
ness to attend; consequently, there are a great num-
ber of people who walk in, are presented, and walk

The nonce is a charming man, simple in his manner,
kind and gentle. I felt very proud the other evening
to be on his arm after the dinner at the Minister of For-
eign Affair's, and walk about with him. When we passed
by some of the unclothed Dianas and Venuses the dear
old man held up his hand to cover his eyes: "Non dew
guardare!" Nevertheless I caught him peeping under
his eyelids. He came on my Thursday to see me, ac-
companied by Monsignore Montagnini, his secretary,
and sat a long time lingering over his teacup, and made
himself very agreeable to the many ladies present.

The nonce accepted our invitation to dine on the
26th (he fixed the day himself). That evening I re-
ceived a note from the secretary to say that the nonce
had forgotten that the 26th was Ash Wednesday, and,
naturally, could not have the pleasure, etc.

Prince Valdemar, the youngest son of the King of
Denmark, and Princess Marie, his wife, were dining
yesterday with us, with Prince George of Greece, who
is extremely agreeable and handsome. She (the Prin-
cess Marie) when in Paris stays with her parents, the
Due and Duchesse de Chartres, in their beautiful palace,






This was a reply to a letter of introduction which Madame de Hegermann-Llndencrone had written for
Miss Geraldine Farrar to Massenet. He taught her subsequently Manon

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Online LibraryL. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-LindencroneThe sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 → online text (page 16 of 22)