L. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-Lindencrone.

The sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 online

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lost in admiration and wonder at the beauty of every-
thing. The greatest wonder the gentlemen met was the
item on the bill for blacking boots, which was fifteen
dollars. They paid without a murmur, because they
wanted to tell their friends about it when they got
home.

We took our leave of beautiful Yosemite Valley,
throwing a disdainful look at the boots, and we saw the
last of the Yosemites peeping at us from behind the
shrubbery. We mounted the stage-coach which was to
take us to Mariposa Grove. We drove up the mountain
all right, but when the summit was reached the coachman
began to whip up his six horses and started galloping
them down and turning thost corners in such a reckless
manner that our hair stood on end; and in answer to

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THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

our gentle words reminding him that there were human
beings in the coach he said, coolly:

"Oh, I guess it '11 be all right, but this is my first ex-
perience." On a sharp turn of the road we suddenly
saw a great white pine about six feet in diameter lying
right across our path. It had evidently fallen in the
night. Fortunately, the driver saw it and managed to
pull up his six horses in time to avoid a catastrophe.

How in the world should we ever get over this
obstacle? All our projects would be disarranged if
there came a single unexpected delay. A conseil de
guerre was held, every one talking at once, and it was
decided that the driver should unhitch the horses, and
that each lady should hold two of them, while the men
were to look about to find timber enough to improvise
an inclined plane on both sides of this enormous tree-
trunk, so that the coach could be hauled up on one side
and dragged down on the other. The gentlemen man-
aged, to get the carriage over, then they led the horses
over, and lastly we ladies were piloted across.

After a delay of an hour we were able to drive to
Mariposa Hotel, where we found eight saddle-horses
waiting for us. It was all most exciting, and we enjoyed
every moment of the ride through the most beautiful
forest in the world. The ordinary trees of this forest
would be gigantic in any other part of the globe (six
to seven feet in diameter), but when we "struck" the
first big tree I almost fell off my horse with wonder.
This tree was four hundred feet high and about thirty-
three feet in diameter. I knew beforehand that they
were monstrously big and high, but I did not know that
they had such a beautiful color a red cinnamon. The

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THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

first branch was a hundred feet from the ground and six
feet in diameter. In the Mariposa Grove there are three
hundred of these giants. In one tree, which was partly
hollowed out by fire, we seven people sat on horseback.
That gives you an idea! We saw a carriage full of trav-
elers drive through a hollow fallen tree as if through a
tunnel. One must see these to imagine what they are
like. The "Old Giant" was the most imposing and
grandest of them all thirty-seven feet in diameter, and
high! One got dizzy trying to see the top, which is
really not the top. The winds up there do not allow
themselves to be encroached upon, and the young shoots
are nipped off as soon as they appear.

We had to sleep at Mariposa Grove (Clark's Hotel)
in the evening. We talked of nothing else but the won-
derful trees until some one asked me if I was too tired
to sing. I was willing enough. There was, in fact, a
piano in the parlor an old, yellow-keyed out-of-tune
Chickering which had seen better days somewhere and
a spiral stool very rickety on its legs. There were wax
flowers under dusty globes. Though no one of our party
cared much for music, and the surroundings were any-
thing but inspiring, still I longed to sing.

I sang a lot of things, and my tired audience no doubt
thought I had done enough and ought to go to bed,
which I did, after having received their thanks and see-
ing the heads of the servant-girls and various other heads
and forms disappear from the veranda.

May 2581.

We left Clark's early in the morning without having
made a second trip to the trees, as we wanted to, but

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THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

the time was nearing when John Cadwalader was to
leave us for his trip around the world. We were already
too late as it was, and if anything should happen like
another Gulliver across our downward path he would
lose the steamer which starts from San Francisco in
three days. I sat in the favorite seat next to the driver
and waved a long farewell to the beautiful forest which
I shall probably never see again.

Here another funny thing happened. Everything
funny seems to happen at the end of our trip. The
driver (a new one, not the one of yesterday) after a' long
silence, and having changed a piece of straw he was chew-
ing from one side of his mouth to the other many times,
made up his mind to speak. I did not speak first,
though I longed to, as I am told it is not wise to speak
to the man at the wheel, especially when the wheel
happens to be a California coach and six horses.

"A beautiful day," the driver ventured.

"Yes," I said, "it is one of the most beautiful days
I have ever seen."

He, after a long pause, said, "Was you in the hotel
parlor last night?"

"Yes," I said, "I was."

"Did you hear that lady sing?"

"Yes, I did. Did you?"

"You bet I did. I was standing with the rest of the
folks out on the piazza."

How curious it would be to hear a wild Western un-
varnished, unprejudiced judgment of myself! "What
did you think of her singing?" I asked my companion.

He replied by asking, "Have you ever heard a nightin-
gale, ma'm?"

47



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

"Oh yes, many times," I answered, wondering what
he would say next.

"Wai, I guess some of them nightingales will have to
take a back seat when she sings."

I actually blushed with pride. I considered this was
the greatest compliment I had ever had.

"We arrived safely, without any adventure, at Sacra-
mento, where John Cadwalader left us, and the rest of
the party continued as far as Chicago together, where
we bade each other good-by, each going his different
way.

CAMBRIDGE, June, 1877.

MY DEAR SISTER, Sarah Bernhardt is playing in
Boston now, much to Boston's delight. I went to see
her at the Tremont House, where she is staying. She
looked enchanting, and was dressed in her most char-
acteristic manner, in a white dress with a border of fur.
Fancy, in this heat! She talked about Paris, her latest
successes, asked after Nina, and finally what I wanted
most to know her impressions of America.

This is her first visit. I found that she seemed to be
cautious about expressing her opinions. She said she
was surprised to see how many people in America un-
derstood French. "Really?" I answered. "It did not
strike me so the other evening when I heard you in
'La Dame aux Camelias." "I don't mean the pub-
lic," she replied. "It apparently understands very lit-
tle, and the turning of the leaves of the librettos dis-
tracts me so much that I sometimes forget my rdle.
At any rate, I wait till the leaves have finished rustling.
But in society," she added, "I find that almost every
one who is presented to me talks very good French."

48



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

"Well," I answered, "if Boston didn't speak French I
should be ashamed of it. " She laughed. ' ' Sometimes, ' '
she said, "they do make curious mistakes. I am mak-
ing note of all I can remember. They will be amusing
in the book I am writing. A lady said to me, 'What I
admire the most in you, madame, c'est votre tempera-
ture. ' ' ' ^She meant ' ' temperament . " " What did you an-
swer to that?" I asked. "I said, 'Oui, madame, il fait
ires chaud,' which fell unappreciated."

She is bored with reporters, who besiege her from
morning till night. One a woman who sat with note-
book in hand for ages ("une tternitt" she said) reporting,
the next day sent her the newspaper in which a column
was filled with the manner she treated her nails. Not
one word about "mon art "I "Some of my admira-
teurs," she said, "pay their fabulous compliments
through an interpreter." She thought this was ridicu-
lous. When I got up to leave she said, "Chere madame,
you know Mr. Longfellow?" "Yes," I replied, "very
well." "Could you not arrange that I might make his
bust? You can tell him that you know my work, and
that I can do it if he will let me."

I told her that I would try. She was profuse in
her thanks in anticipation, but, alas! Mr. Longfellow,
when I spoke to him, turned a cold shoulder on the
idea. He begged me to assure Sarah Bernhardt nothing
would have given him more pleasure, but, with a play-
ful wink, ' ' I am leaving for Portland in a few days, and
I am afraid she will have left Boston when 1 come
back" thus cutting the Gordian (k)not with a snap.
But, evidently regretting his curtness, he said, "Tell
her if she is at liberty to-morrow I will offer her a cup

49



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

of tea. ' ' Then he added : ' ' You must come and chaperon
me. It would not do to leave me alone with such a
dangerous and captivating visitor." He invited Mr.
Howells and Oliver Wendell Holmes to meet her. I wrote
to Sarah Bernhardt what the result of my interview was
and gave the invitation. She sent back a short "I
will come." The next afternoon I met her at Mr. Long-
fellow's. When we were drinking our tea she said,
"Cher M. Longfellow, I would like sc much to have
made your bust, but I am so occupied that I really have
not the time." And he answered her in the most suave
manner, "I would have been delighted to sit for you,
but, unfortunately, I am leaving for the country to-
morrow." How clever people are!

Mr. Longfellow speaks French like a native. He
said: "I saw you the other evening in 'Phedre.' I saw
Rachel in it fifty years ago, but you surpass her. You
are magnificent, for you are plus vivante. I wish I could
make my praises vocal chanter vos louanges"

"I wish that you could make me vocal," she said.
"How much finer my Phedre would be if I could sing,
and not be obliged to depend upon some horrible so-
prano behind the scenes!"

"You don't need any extra attraction," Mr. Long-
fellow said. "I wish I could make you feel what I
felt."

"You can," she said, "and you do by your poetry."

"Can you read my poetry?"

"Yes. I read your 'He-a-vatere."

"My Oh yes 'Hiawatha.' But you surely do
not understand that?"

"Yes, yes, indeed I do," she said. "Chaque mot.' 1

5




HENRY W. LONGFELLOW




JAMES G. ELAINE

When Speaker of the House of Representatives



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

"You are wonderful," he said, and fearing that she
might be tempted to recite "chaque mot" of his "Hia-
watha," hastened to present Mr. Holmes, who was all
attention.

At last the tea-party came to an end. We all accom-
panied her to her carriage, and as she was about to get
in she turned with a sudden impulse, threw her arms
round Mr. Longfellow's neck, and said, "Vous $tes
adorable," and kissed him on his cheek. He did not
seem displeased, but as she drove away he turned to me
and said, "You see I did need a chaperon."

Johan has just come home from Boston, bringing in-
credible stories about having talked in a machine called
telephone. It was nothing but a wire, one end in Bos-
ton and the other end in Cambridge. He said he could
hear quite plainly what the person in Cambridge said.
Mr. Graham Bell, our neighbor, has invented this. How
wonderful it must be! He has put up wires about Bos-
ton, but not farther than Cambridge yet. He was
ambitious enough to suggest Providence. "What!"
cried the members of the committee. "You think you
can talk along a wire in the air over that distance?."
"Let me just try it," said Bell. "I will bear half the
expense of putting up the wire if you will bear the other
half."

He was ultra-convinced of his success when, on talking
to his brother in Cambridge from Boston in order to
invite him to dinner, adding, "Bring your mother-in-
law," he heard, distinctly but feebly, the old lady's
voice: "Good gracious! Again! What a bore!"

There is also another invention, called phonograph,
where the human voice is reproduced, and can go on
5 51



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

for ever being reproduced. I sang in one through a horn,
and they transposed this on a platina roll and wound it
off. Then they put it on another disk, and I heard my
voice for the first time in my life. If that is my voice,
I don't want to hear it again! I could not believe that
it could be so awful! A high, squeaky, nasal sound; I
was ashamed of it. And the faster the man turned the
crank the higher and squeakier the voice became. The
intonation the pronunciation I could recognize as my
own, but the voice! . . . Dear me !

[Johan, desiring me to know his family, suggested that
we spend the Christmas holidays in Denmark, and we
arrived safely after a slow and very stormy voyage.]

"BjdRNEMOSE," December 20, 1877.

DEAR MOTHER, Denmark looks very friendly under
its mantle of snow, glistening with its varnish of ice.
It is lovely weather. The sun shines brightly, but it
is as cold as Greenland. They tell me it is a very mild
winter. Compared with Alaska, it may be ! The house,
which is heated only by large porcelain stoves, is partic-
ularly cold. These stoves are filled with wood in the
early morning, and when the wood is burned out they
shut the door and the porcelain tiles retain the heat
still, the ladies all wear shawls over their shoulders and
shiver. I go and lean my back up against the huge white
monument, but this is not considered good form.

The Baltic Sea, which is at the foot of the snow-
covered lawn, is filled with floating ice. It must be love-
ly here in the summer, when one can see the opposite
shores of Thuro across the blue water.

My new family, taken singly and collectively, is de-

52



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

lightful. I shall tell you later about the dear, genial
General my father-in-law the kind mother, and the
three devoted sisters. Now I shall only write as I
promised you my first impressions.

We live in a manner which is, I fancy, called "pa-
triarchal," and which reminds me continually of Frederi-
ka Bremer's book called Home. A great many things in
the way of food are new to me. For instance, there is a
soup made of beer, brown bread, and cream, and another
made of the insides of a goose, with its long neck and
thin legs, boiled with prunes, apples, and vinegar. Then
rice porridge is served as soup and mixed with hot beer,
cinnamon, butter, and cream. These all seem very
queer, but they taste very good. I asked for oatmeal
porridge, but I was told that oatmeal was used only for
cataplasms. Corn is known only as ornamental shrub-
bery, and tomatoes, alas ! are totally unknown.

Every one I have met so far has been most kind and
hospitable. We have been invited out to dinner sev-
eral times. I will describe the first one, which was
unique as a dbut.

The distances are enormous between country houses
in this land ; and, as the hour named for dinner was six
o'clock, we had to begin dressing in the afternoon at the
early hour of three. At four we were packed in the
family landau, with a mountain of rugs and different
things to keep our feet warm. We jogged along the
hard, slippery highroad at a monotonous pace; and, as
it is dark at four o'clock, nothing could have been more
conducive to slumber and peaceful dreams. Finally we
arrived. Every one was standing up when we entered
the salon. There seemed to be a great number of peo-

53



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

pie. I was presented to all the ladies, and the gentle-
men were brought up one by one and named to me.
They bowed, shook my hand, and retired. I noticed
that all the ladies wore long trailing skirts lilac or
gray and had real flowers in their hair and on their
bosoms. Dinner was announced. Then there came a
pause. The host and the hostess were looking about
for some one to undertake me some one who could tale
Engelsk (talk English). Finally they decided upon a
lank, spectacled gentleman, who offered me his arm and
took me in.

My father-in-law, who was the person highest in rank,
sat on the left of the hostess. I thought this peculiar,
but such is the custom here. From the moment we sat
down until we rose from the table my English-speaking
friend never stopped talking. He told me he had learned
my language when a boy, but had forgotten a great deal ;
if he had said he had forgotten it entirely he would
have been nearer the truth.

He wanted to tell me the family history of a gentle-
man opposite us, and began by saying: "Do you see
that gentleman? He has been washing you all the
time."

"Washing me?" I exclaimed. "What do you mean?"

"Yes, the one with the gray hairs and the bird."

I looked about for a canary perched on some one's
nose.

"It is a pity," he went on to say, "that he has no
shield."

"How is that?" I asxefl. "I thought every one had a
shield of some sort?" To make it clearer to me, he said,
"In Danish we call a shield a barn."

54



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

"Is he a farmer?" said I, much puzzled.

"Oh dear, no! He is a lawyer like me."

"Then what does he want with a barn?"

"Every couple [pronounced copol] wants burn, 1 ' he
replied.

' ' What is it they want ? " I asked. ' ' What do you call
burn?"

"Burn," he explained, "is pluriel for barn. Eight
barn, two burn. 1 '

"What?" I cried, "eight barns to burn! Why do
they want to burn eight barns? They must be crazy!"

All this will sound to you as idiotic as it did to me,
but you will get the explanation at the end of the chap-
ter, as I did on the drive home the two hours of which
were entirely taken up in laughing at the mistakes of
the good lawyer, who did his best.

Our conversation languished after this. My brain
could not bear such a strain. Suddenly he got up from
his chair. I thought that he was going to take himself
and his English away, but after he had quaffed a whole
glass of wine, at one swallow, bowed over it, and pointed
his empty glass at Johan, he resumed his seat, and con-
versation flowed again.

It seems that Johan had honored him with a friendly
nod and an uplifted glass, which obliged him to arise
and acknowledge the compliment.

In Denmark there is a great deal of s&aa/-drinking
(skaal, in Danish, means drinking a toast). I think
there must be an eleventh commandment "Thou shalt
not omit to skaal." The host drinks with every one,
and every one drinks with every one else. It seems to
me to be rather a cheap way of being amiable, but it

55



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

looks very friendly and sociable. When a person of high
rank drinks with one of lower the latter stands while
emptying his glass.

When we left the table I did not feel that my Danish
had gained much, and certainly my partner's English
had not improved. However, we seemed to have con-
versed in a very spirited manner, which must have im-
pressed the lookers-on with a sense of my partner's talent
for languages.

On our return to the salon we found more petroleum-
lamps, and the candelabra lighted to exaggeration with
wax candles. The lamp-shades, which I thought were
quite ingenious, were of paper, and contained dried ferns
and even flattened-out butterflies between two sheets
of shiny tissue-paper. The salon had dark walls on which
hung a collection of family portraits. Ladies with puck-
ered mouths and wasp-like waists had necks adorned
with gorgeous pearls, which had apparently gone to an
early grave with their wearers. I saw no similar ones
on the necks of the present generation. After the coffee
was served and a certain time allowed for breathing, the
daughter of the house sat down, without being begged,
at an upright piano, and attacked the "Moonlight
Sonata." This seemed to be the signal for the ladies
to bring out their work-bags.

The knitting made a pleasing accompaniment to the
moonlight of the sonata, as if pelicans were gnashing
their teeth in the dimness. The sterner sex made a dash
for the various albums and literature on the round table
in the center of the room, and turned the leaves with a
gentle flutter. The sonata was finished in dead silence.
As it was performed by one of the family, no applause

56



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

was necessary. I was asked to sing; and, though I do
not like to sing after dinner, I consented, not to be dis-
obliging. Before taking my seat on the revolving piano-
stool I looked with a severe eye at the knitting-needles.
The ladies certainly did try to make less noise, but they
went on knitting, all the same.

The flushed-with-success lawyer, wishing to show his
appreciation of my singing, leaned gracefully across the
piano, and said, " Kammerherrinde [that is my title], you
sing as if you had a beard in your throat."

"A what?" I gasped. "A beard?"

"Yes! a beautiful beard," and added, with a conscious
smile, "I sing myself."

Good heavens! I thought, and asked, "Do you know
what a beard is?"

"In Danish we call a beard a fugle" (pronounced/^/.)

"Then," I said, pretending to be offended, "I sing
like a fool?"

"Exactly," he said with enthusiasm, his eyes beaming
with joy through his spectacles.

This was hopeless. I moved gently away from the
man who "talked English."

The candles had burned down almost to their bobdches,
and we were beginning to forget that we had eaten a din-
ner of fifteen courses, when in came a procession of ser-
vants with piles of plates in their arms and trays of
smorbrod (sandwiches), tea, beer (in bottles), and cakes,
which are called here kicks. Everything seemed very
tempting except the things handed about by the stable-
boy, who was dressed for the occasion in a livery, much
too large, and was preceded and followed by a mixed
odor of stable and almond soap.

57



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

What struck me as unusual was that the host named
the hour for his guests to go home. Therefore all tne
carriages were before the door at the same time.

Johan explained the mistakes on the way home.

"The man with the gray hairs and the beard" (pro-
nounced like heard) had been watching me. Shield meant
child! A child in Danish is et barn, which sounds the
same as eight barn. Two children (in Danish) are to
born, pronounced toe burn. Bird he pronounced like
beard, because it was written so. A bird in Danish is
fugle (fool).

Do you wonder that I was somewhat bewildered?

January, 1878,

DEAR MOTHER, After Christmas Johan and I went
to Copenhagen, where I was presented to the King and
the Queen. I was first received by the Grande Maitresse,
Madame de Raben, and three dames d'honneur, who were
all pleasant but ceremonious. When the Queen en-
tered the room and I was presented to her she was
most gracious and affable. She motioned me to sit
down beside her on the sofa. She said that she had
heard much about me. She spoke of my father-in-law,
whom she loved, and Johan, whom she liked so much.
She was most interested to hear about you and the
children. She had heard that Nina promised to be a
beauty.

"If children would only grow up to their promises!"
I said.

"Mine have," said the Queen ; "they are all beautiful."

She showed me the photographs of the Princess of
Wales and the Grand-Duchess Dagmar of Russia. If

58



THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE

they resemble their pictures they must indeed be
beautiful.

The salon in which we sat was filled with drawings,
pastels, and photographs, and was so crowded with furni-
ture that one could hardly move about.

"I've been told," the Queen said, "that you have a
splendid voice and sing wonderfully. You must come
some day and sing for me; I love music." Then we
talked music, the most delightful of subjects. The King
came in. He was also perfectly charming, and as kind
as possible. He is about sixty years old, but looks
younger, having a wonderfully youthful figure and a very
handsome face. The King preferred to speak French,
but the Queen liked better to talk English, which she
does to perfection.

"Have you learned Danish yet?" the King asked me.

"Alas! your Majesty," I answered, "though I try
very hard to learn, I have not mastered it yet, and only
dare to inflict it on my family."

"You will not find it difficult," he said. "You will
learn it in time."

"I hope so, your Majesty Time is a good teacher."

He told me an anecdote about Queen Desiree, of
Sweden, wife of Bernadotte, who on her arrival in Stock-
holm did not know one word of Swedish.


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