L. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-Lindencrone.

The sunny side of diplomatic life, 1875-1912 online

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in their double-quick step, sounding their bugles as they
marched along, their hats cocked very much on one
side, with long rooster feathers streaming out in the
wind. This is the most unique regiment (I was going
to say cockiest) one can imagine. Their uniforms are
very dark green, their hats are black patent leather, and
they wear black gloves and leggings. I am told that
these soldiers do not live long that they hardly ever
reach the age of forty. The strain on the heart, caused
by their quick pace, which is something between a run
and a trot, is too great, especially for the buglers, who
blow their bugles while running. At last came the splen-
did gala coaches of the King and the Queen, followed
by many others, and then the military suite, making a
splendid procession.

Inside, the large building was crowded to its limit.
The state Ministers were in their seats in front, the
members of Parliament behind them. The balconies
were filled with people, and every available place was
occupied. When the Queen entered the royal loge with
her ladies and chamberlains, there was a great deal of
clapping of hands, which is the way an Italian shows
his enthusiasm and loyalty. Every one arose and re-
mained standing while the Queen came forward to the
front of her loge, bowed and smiled, and bowed and
bowed again until the clapping ceased; then she took
her seat, and every one sat down.

The loge reserved for the Diplomatic Corps is directly
opposite the Queen's. After a few moments' pause the
platform supporting the throne was noiselessly in-
vaded by numerous officers in their glittering and brill-



iant uniforms, and members of the court in their court
dress covered with decorations, who took their places on
each side of the throne. The King came in quietly
without any pomp, and was greeted by the most en-
thusiastic and prolonged demonstration. He acknowl-
edged the ovation, but evidently chafed under the slight
delay, as if impatient to commence his speech. Before
doing so he turned toward the Queen's loge with a re-
spectful inclination of the head, as if to acknowledge her
presence, then, bowing to the Diplomatic loge and turn-
ing to the audience, read his proclamation.

It was most difficult to hear what the King said,
perched as we were high above him; but we understood
by the frequent interruptions and the enthusiastic benes
and bravos and the clapping of hands that what he said
pleased his subjects. The speech over, the King, accom-
panied by his suite, left as quietly as he had entered, amid
the vociferous applause that followed. The Queen then
arose, smiled and bowed to the assembly, and withdrew.

The streets were thronged with soldiers and people,
and it was as much as his life was worth for the coach-
man to draw up in front of the door.

Mr. and Mrs. Field have almost completed their
enormous palace out by Santa Maria Maggiore, but they
have not, as they hoped, succeeded in making that part
of Rome fashionable. They have bought land as far
as the Colosseum ; Nero's gold house, which stands in
a finocchi patch, is theirs too. The tenement-houses
near them continue to festoon the facades with the
week's wash in every state of unrepair. There is no
privacy about the Italians washing their dirty linen,
though they do wash at home.

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I seem to be introducing you to all Rome.

Mr. and Mme. Minghetti are old friends that is, I
have known her from 1866. Then she was Princess
Camporeale, very handsome and captivating. She is
just as attractive now and holds Rome in her hand.
Her salon is the salon where all fashionable Rome flocks.
She has arranged it in the most artistic manner. It is
crowded with furniture, with cozy corners and flirtatious
nooks between armoires and palm-trees. Valuable old
pictures and tapestries decorate the walls. The salon
is two stories high and has an ornamental little winding
staircase on which an enormous stuffed peacock stands
with outspread tail, as if guarding things below. On her
Sunday afternoons one is sure to hear some good music.
No one refuses, as it gives a person a certain prestige
to be heard there.

Mr. Minghetti, possessing the order of the Annun-
ciata (the highest decoration of Italy), is called "Le
cousin du Roi" He is a great personage. He has been
Prime Minister and still plays a very conspicuous part
in politics. He has written many books on constitutional
law. He is tall, handsome, and altogether delightful.

The Storys still live in the third heaven of the Bar-
berini Palace, where on Fridays there is a steady pro-
cession of tea-thirsty English and Americans who toil

The two sons are what Mr. Story calls "promising."
Waldo (the elder) promises to rival his father as a
sculptor. Julian promises to be a great painter. His
picture of Cardinal Howard, all in red against a red
background, is a fine study in color besides being an
excellent likeness.



The Haseltines are flourishing like green bay-trees.
Their beautiful apartment in the Altieri Palace, where
his atelier is, is filled with his exquisite water-colors and
paintings. Her brother, Mr. Marshall, is staying with
them. He is very amusing. Last evening he held the
table in a roar when he told of a recent experience.

At the Duchess Piano's costume ball he had worn a
costume of a Mignon-Henri-II. He described it to us.
A light-blue satin jacket, and trunk-hose, slashed to
exaggeration, with white satin puffs, a jaunty velvet
cap with a long feather, and white satin shoes turned
up at the ends.

Worth had made it and put a price on it almost equal
to Marshall's income, and just because it had cost so
much and he had received a good many compliments
he thought it was his duty to have it and himself photo-
graphed as a memento of his reckless extravagance be-
fore the costume was consigned to oblivion. On the
day of his appointment with the artist he was dressed
and ready in his costume. As it was a rainy day, he
provided himself with an umbrella and a pair of india-
rubbers big enough to go over the gondola-like shoes.
He also carried a stuffed falcon in his hand so that there
should be no doubt as to what he was.

Unluckily, the horse fell down on the slippery Corso,
and the coachman insisted upon Marshall's getting out.

"You may imagine my feelings," he said, "at being
obliged to show myself in broad daylight in this get-up.
A crowd of gaping idiots gathered about me and made
particularly sarcastic remarks. One said, 'E il Re!' ('It
is the King'). Another screamed, ' Quante e bello I
piccolo!' There was I stranded in the middle of the



Corso, holding an umbrella over my head in one hand
and that ridiculous falcon in the other, my feather drip-
ping down my back; and when I looked down at blue
legs fast turning another color and my huge india-
rubbers I realized what a spectacle I was making of
myself. ..."

We laughed till the tears rolled down our cheeks. He
showed us the photograph, and I must say that a less
Mignon-Henri-II.-like Mignon and a more typical Ameri-
can face and figure could not be imagined. If Henri II.
had caught sight of him with his thin legs, side-whiskers,
and eye-glasses he would have turned in his grave.

Dr. Nevin, our pastoral shepherd, has really done a
great deal for the American church here and ought to
have a vote of thanks. He has collected so much money
that he has not only built the pretty church, but has
decorated it with Burne- Jones's tall angels and copies
of the mosaics from Ravenna. He has also built a com-
fortable rectory, which he has filled with rare bric-d-brac.
They say that no one is a better match for the wily
dealers in antiquities than the reverend gentleman, and
the pert little cabmen don't dare to try any of their
tricks on him.

He shows another side of his character when in the

The mere sound of his own voice in reading the
Scriptures affects him to tears. Last Sunday he almost
broke down completely when he was reading about
Elijah and the bears (a tale which does not seem in the
least pathetic to me). He is a great sportsman and
plays all games with enthusiasm, and is a fervent but
bad whist-player, and when he revokes (which he often



does) we suppose he is thinking out his next Sunday's
sermon. In the summer vacation he goes to the Rocky
Mountains and kills bears.

A few Sundays ago it was, if ever, the occasion to
say, "Don't kill the organist; he is doing his best."
Signer Rotoli (the organist), who does not know one
word of English, was dozing through Dr. Nevin's usual
sermon, and, having the music open before him of the
solo that Mr. Grant (the tenor) was going to sing, heard
the first words of the prayer, "O Lord, grant " thought
that it was the signal for the anthem, and crashed down
the opening chords.

Dr. Nevin looked daggers at him, as if he could have
killed him on the spot, and had there been anything at
hand heavier than his sermon he certainly would have
thrown it at him.

March, 1881.

DEAR , The carnival is over. As it is the first

carnival I have ever seen, I must describe it to you. It
lasts almost a week. It commenced last Wednesday
and finished yesterday. Mr. Saumares, of the English
Embassy, had taken a balcony just opposite the Palazzo
Piano, where the Queen always goes. He invited us
for the whole week, and when we were not in the fray
ourselves, we went there at five o'clock to take tea and
to see the cor so di barbeir (the race of the wild horses).
The first day of the carnival we were full of energy and
eagerness. We were all in our shabbiest clothes, as this
is the customary thing. The coachman and the valet
also had their worst clothes on, which is saying a good
deal, and the horses were even worse than usual,
which is saying a good deal more. The carriages were



filled to overflowing with flowers, bonbons, and confetti
by the bushel. Our servant, Giuseppe, had been since
early morning bargaining for the things, and after tuck-
ing us in the carriage he contemplated us with pride as
we drove off.

We started from the Piazzo del Popolo at three o'clock,
and pelted every one, exhausting our ammunition reck-
lessly. Dirty little beggar-boys would jump on the
step of the carriage and snatch what flowers they could,
even out of our hands, and would then sell them back
to us, scrambling for the soldi which we threw at them;
and, what was worse, they picked the same bouquets
up, which by this time had become mere stems without
flowers and covered with mud, and threw them at us.
They wanted their fun, too.

At five o'clock we stood on the balcony to watch the
race of the wild horses. These are brought straight in
from the country, quite wild and untamed. They are
covered with all sorts of dangling pointed tin things and
fire-crackers, which not only frighten them dreadfully,
but hurt them. They started at the Piazza, del Popolo
and were hooted and goaded on by the excited screams
of the populace all the way down the narrow Corso, which
is a mile long. It is a wonder that the poor creatures
in their fright did not dart into the howling crowd, but
they did not. They kept straight on their way, stung
to desperation by the fireworks on their backs. At the
Piazza di Venezia the street narrows into a very small
passage, which divides the palazzo from its neighbor
opposite. Here sheets (or, rather, sails) were hung across
this narrow place, into which the horses, blinded with
terror, puzzled and confused, ran headlong, and were



easily caught. The one who gets there first gets the
prize, and is led back through the streets, tired and
meek, wearing his number on a card around his neck.
It is a cruel sport, but the Italians enjoy it, believing, as
they do, that animals have no souls, and therefore can
support any amount of torture.

Nothing is done on Friday. The following Tuesday
Mardi-gras was the last day. Then folly reigned
supreme. After the horses had run their race and twi-
light had descended on the scene, the moccoletti began.
This is such a childish sport that it really seems impos-
sible that grown-up men and women could find any
amusement in taking part in it. Lighting your own
small tallow candle and trying to put out your neigh-
bor's that is what it amounts to. Does it not sound
silly? Yet all this vast crowd is as intent on it as if
their lives and welfare were at stake. At eight o'clock,
however, this came to an end, the last flickering light was
put out, and we went home one would think to play
with our dolls.

ROME, 1 88 1.

DEAR , Since we are bereft of balls and soirees

we devote our time to improving our Italian. Johan and
I take lessons of a monsignore who appears precisely at
ten every morning. We struggle through some verbs,
and then he dives into Dante, the most difficult thing
to comprehend in the Italian language. Then he tries
to explain it in Italian to us, which is more difficult
still. He makes us read aloud to him, during which he
folds his hands over his fat stomach and audibly goes
to sleep. He will awake with a start and excuse him-
self, saying that he gets up at five o'clock in the morning



for matines, and that naturally at eleven he is sleepy;
but I think he only pretends to sleep and takes refuge
behind his eyelids, in order to ponder over the Italian
language as "she is spoke."

Sgambati, the very best composer and painist in
Rome, gives lessons to Nina, who he says has "molto
talento." Sgambati has a wonderful and sympathetic
touch, which is at once velvety and masterful. His
gavotte is a chef-d'&uvre. He calls it a gavotte, but I tell
him he ought to call it "The Procession of the Cavaliers,"
because it has such a martial ring to it. It does not in
the least resemble a Gavotte Louis XV. I seem to see
in my mind's eye Henry V. trying to rally his comrades
about him and incite them to combat. Sgambati looks
like a preux chevalier himself, with his soft, mild blue
eyes and long hair and serene brow. He brought a song
that he composed, he said, "per la distinta Eccellenza
Hegermann expressly by her devoted and admiring
Sgambati." Although the song was beautiful as a
piano piece and as he played it, I could not sing it. I

"My dear Sgambati, I can never sing 'Mio' on a si-
bemol. Can I not change it for an 'A'?"

"No!" answered Sgambati. "The whole meaning
would be lost; but you can broaden it out and sing

Another shining light is Tosti, who comes to us very
often. He is by far the best beloved of popular com-
posers. He understands the voice thoroughly and com-
poses songs which are melodious and easy to sing.
Therefore every one sings them. He has not much of
a voice, but when he sings his compositions he makes

y 115


them so charming that they sell like wildfire. He is the
most amiable of geniuses, and never refuses to sing when
he is asked.

Yesterday I sang something I had composed as a
vocalize. He liked it so much that he asked why I did
not sing it as a song.

I said, "I cannot write either it or the accompani-

"That is easy enough," he replied. "I will write it
for you," and scribbled it off then and there.

He dedicated a piece to me called "Forever," which
I sing on every occasion.

I have a great friend in Madame Helbig, the wife of
Heir Helbig, the German archaeologist in Rome. She is
born a Russian princess, and is certainly one of the best
amateur musicians, if not the best, I have ever met.
She is of immense proportions, being very tall and very
stout. One might easily mistake her for a priest, as
she is always dressed in a long black garment which is
a sort of water-proof; and as her hair is short and she
never wears a hat, you may well imagine that she is
very well known in Rome. When she hails a cab to
take her up the very steep Caffarelli Hill, where they live,
the cabbies, who are humorists in their way, look at her,
then at their poor, half -fed horses and the weak springs
of their dilapidated bottes (cabs), shake their heads, and,
holding up two dirty fingers, say, "In due wile" (which
means ' ' in two trips ' ') . Mr. Ross, the Norwegian paint-
er, whose English is not quite up to the mark, said she
was the "hell-biggest" woman he ever saw; and when
she undertook a journey to Russia, said, "Dear me, how
can she ever travel with that corpse of hers?"




MY DEAR AUNT, The churches are open all day.
St. Peter's, Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore each has
one of the famous sopranos. The music is well, simply
divine! I can't say more. You must hear it to ap-
preciate it. (Some day I hope you will.) Good Friday
is the great day at St. Peter's. The church is so crowd-
ed that one can hardly get a place to stand. There
are not chairs enough in any of the churches during
Holy Week for the numerous strangers that pervade
Rome. My servant generally carries a camp-stool and
rug, and I sit entranced, listening in the deepening twi-
light to the heavenly strains of Palestrina, Pergolese,
and Marcello. Sometimes the soloists sing Gounod's
"Ava Maria" and Rossini's "Stabat Mater," and, for-
tunately, drown the squeaky tones of the old organ. A
choir of men and boys accompanies them in "The In-
flammatus," where the high notes of M.'s tearful voice
are almost supernatural. People swarm to the Laterano
on Saturday to hear the Vespers, which are especially
fine. After the solo is finished, the priests begin their
monotonous Gregorian chants, and at the end of those
they slap-bang their prayer-books on the wooden benches
on which they are sitting, making a noise to wake the
dead. I thought they were furious with one another
and were refusing to sing any more. It seemed very
out of place for such an exhibition of temper. A know-
ing friend told me that it was an old Jewish custom
which had been repeated for ages on this particular day
and at this hour. It closes the Lenten season.

On Easter Sunday I sang in the American church.
Dr. Nevin urged me so much that I did not like to re-



fuse. I chose Mendelssohn's beautiful anthem, "Come
unto Me."

ROME, 1883.

DEAR , We have moved from the Palazzo Rospig-

liosi to the Palazzo Tittoni, in Via Rasella, which leads
from the Palazzo Barberini down to the Fontana di Trevi.
I never would have chosen this palace, beautiful as it is,
if I could have foreseen the misery I suffer when I hear
the wicked drivers goading and beating their poor beasts
up this steep hill. The poor things strain every muscle
under their incredible burdens, but are beaten, all the
same. I am really happy when I hear the crow I mean
the bray of a donkey. It has a jubiliant ring in it, as
if he were somehow enjoying himself, and my heart
sympathizes with him. But it may be only his way of
expressing the deepest depths of woe.

Mrs. Charles Bristed, of New York, a recent convert
to the Church of Rome, receives on Saturday evenings.
She has accomplished what hitherto has been considered
impossible that is, the bringing together of the ' ' blacks "
(the ultra-Catholic party, belonging to the Vatican) and
the "whites," the party adhering to the Quirinal. These
two parties meet in her salon as if they were of the same
color. The Pope's singers are the great attraction.
She must either have a tremendously long purse or great
persuasive powers to get them, for her salon is the only
place outside the churches where one can hear them.
Therefore this salon is the only platform in Rome where
the two antagonistic parties meet and glare at each

We went there last Saturday. The chairs were ar-
ranged in rows, superb in their symmetry at first, but



after the first petticoats had swept by everything was
in a hopeless confusion. Two ladies sitting on one
chair, one lady appropriating two chairs instead of one,
and another sitting sideways on three. The consequence
was that there was a conglomeration of empty chairs
in the middle of the room, while crowds of weary guests
stood in and near the doorway, with the thermometer
sky-high ! When one sees the Pope's singers in evening
dress and white cravats the prestige and effect are alto-
gether lost. This particular evening was unusually
brilliant, for the monsignores and cardinals were extra-
abundant. There were printed programs handed to
us with the list of the numerous songs that we were
going to hear.

The famous Moresca, who sings at the Laterano, is a
full-faced soprano of forty winters. He has a tear in
each note and a sigh in each breath. He sang the jewel
song in "Faust," which seemed horribly out of place.
Especially when he asks (in the hand-glass) if he is really
Marguerita, one feels tempted to answer, ]"Macch," for
him. Then they sang a chorus of Palestrina, all scream-
ing at the top of their lungs, evidently thinking they were
in St. Peter's. It never occurred to them to temper
their voices to the poor shorn lambs wedged up against
the walls.

Afterward followed the duet, "Quis est homo," of Ros-
sini's "Stabat Mater," sung by two gray-haired sopranos.
This was extremely beautiful, but the best of all was the
solo sung by a fat, yellow-mustached barytone. I never
heard anything to compare to his exquisite voice. We
shall never hear anything like it in this world, and I
doubt in the next. Maroni is the man who always di-


rects the Pope's singers. He makes more noise beating
time with his roll of music on the piano than all the cab-
drivers below in the Piazza del Popolo.

The supper-room was a sight to behold the enormous
table fairly creaking under the weight of every variety
of food filled half the room, leaving very little space for
the guests. The sopranos got in first, ahead even of the
amiable hostess, who stopped the whole procession,
trying to go abreast through the door with a portly
cardinal and a white diplomat, leaving us, the hungry
black and white sheep, still wrestling with the chairs.

You must have heard of Hamilton Aid6, the author
of The Poet and the Prince and other works. He comes
frequently to see us, and always brings either a new book
or a new song for he is not only a distinguished author,
but a composer as well. He sings willingly when asked.
He is very fond of one of his songs, called "The Danube
River." If he had not brought the music and I had not
seen the title as I laid it on the piano, I should never
have known that it was anything so lively as a river
he was singing about. Though I could occasionally hear
the word "river," I hoped that as the river and singer
went on they would have a little more "go" in them;
but they continued babbling along regardless of obstacles
and time. I was extremely mortified to see that several
of my guests had dozed off. The river and the singer
had had a too-lullaby effect on them.

ROME, 2883.

DEAR , Next to the Palazzo Tittoni lives a de-
lightful family the Count and Countess Gigliucci, with a
son and two daughters. The Countess is the celebrated



Clara Novello of oratorio fame. The three ladies are
perfectly charming. I love to go to see them, and often
drop in about tea-hour, when' I get an excellent cup of
English tea and delicious muffins, and enjoy them in this
cozy family Circle.

Though they live in a palace and have a showy portier,
they do not disdain to do their shopping out of the win-
dow by means of a basket, which the servant-girl lets
down on a string for the daily marketing. Even cards
and letters are received in this way, as the porter refuses
to carry anything up to their third story. "Sortita!"
screamed down in a shrill voice is the answer to the
visitor waiting below in the courtyard.

When the three ladies are sitting at the tea-table dis-
pensing tea, one of them will suddenly commence the
trio from "Elijah" "Lift thine eyes" the other two
joining in (singing without an accompaniment, of course)
in the most delicious manner. Their voices are so alike
in timbre and quality that it is almost impossible to dis-
tinguish one from the other. After the trio they go on
pouring out tea as if nothing had happened, whereas for
me it is an event. It is such perfection!

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